Tag Archives: Israeli Media

Some Don’t Like It HOT

After years of hair-tearing frustration with the crap cable, and even crapper customer, ‘service’ provided by HOT – see HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar and Nimas Lee: An open letter to HOT – I am finally, following numerous broken promises (to myself), doing something to disengage from the bastards: I am connecting my newly renovated apartment with HOT’s satellite competitor, yes.

I had, originally, again ordered HOT – a technician was due at the apartment last Tuesday – because, as well as being reactionary (I still use a paper diary), it offers a convenient television/internet/telephony “triple”, I am used to navigating its TV channels, and can rarely pass up on a deal (it is currently running a Samsung Tablet promotion).

But after receiving, in the days following the order, half a dozen calls from HOT customer service incompetents enquiring why I hadn’t yet ordered, and then a chance, elated call from a friend, Hanna, who had just switched to yes, I decided to follow her lead . . .

I called HOT on two separate occasions to cancel the order, but neither “Linoy” nor “Mohammed” could locate it against my name, address, telephone or ID numbers. And, entirely true to form, on Tuesday afternoon – the day on which the technician would have been due – I received an sms informing me that one would be visiting the following (i.e., Wednesday) afternoon! I called once more to cancel . . . but “Oshrit”, too, could not find any record of the order in HOT’s ‘system’.

There is clearly, however, some communication at HOT – at least when they are about to lose another 300-plus-shekel-a-month customer – because, early on Wednesday morning, Natanel, the sales rep who had closed the original order, called to enquire why I didn’t wish to proceed with it.

“If you are asking,” I said, “I will tell you.” And I proceeded to recite my HOT list . . .

  • HOT’s automated system still, after six years, doesn’t recognise my telephone number (and I don’t even mention Robert Lee);
  • HOT’s customer service reps are still convinced that I live on Melchett, even though I sold my apartment there six months ago;
  • I live at number 4, not at number 10 (in the same way that, on Melchett, I lived at 31, not 3);
  • Natanel had not disclosed, in his original call to me, the 300 shekel connection fee;
  • I became thoroughly pissed off by the multiple, misinformed calls after the order had already been closed;
  • none of HOT’s customer service reps could find evidence of the order; and
  • even the day agreed for it was wrongly recorded.

Natanel’s response? To tell me that my complaints were nekudatiyot me’od (highly specific), that I shouldn’t be so quick to anger, and, wait for it . . . to ask: “Aren’t you grateful to HOT when watching television programmes that you enjoy?”

I replied that I did very much enjoy the English football, but that I could also watch that on yes. And, ignoring his second point (which may actually have some validity), I once again went through my HOT list.

“It is one hundred percent impossible,” said Natanel, “that a rep could not find the new order.”

“Well, it is one hundred percent something,” I replied, “because three out of three couldn’t!”

And, while I could not disagree with Natanel’s contention that no customer service is perfect, I informed him that HOT’s was by far and away the worst that I have ever had the misfortune to experience, even in Israel, with not a single call passing without some degree – usually a high one – of irritation, aggravation and/or annoyance.

With a sigh of resignation, the admirably persistent (and intelligent, for a HOT employee) salesman enquired, “Is there anything I can say that will make you change your mind?”

“No,” I replied – knowing that HOT would never agree to the free month/s that sprang to mind – with no little satisfaction . . . and, with which, Natanel abruptly terminated the call.

And while not kidding myself that there won’t also be “issues” with yes, deserting HOT has accorded me, after the many frustrating years of having to deal with it, both much-needed therapy and sweetish revenge.


Haaretz: Always hitting us when we’re down

I was shopping in Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel, late on Thursday afternoon, as news of 40 deaths in a fire in the Carmel Forest started to filter through. And, as is their wont, stallholders were loudly and crudely relaying the first details to shoppers and fellow traders.

But whatever you say about stallholders in the Shuk (and I wasn’t particularly kind about them, last week), their hearts are in the right place . . . something that can’t necessarily be said for much of this country’s (so-called) liberal elite (close relations of its “cultural elite”).

“Israel is a stupid, lawbreaking state. It voraciously devours its own people, and this time devoured them with fire.”

Sarid: Arrogant slaphead

So ranted Yossi Sarid, left-wing political commentator and former Meretz leader, in the following morning’s Haaretz under a headline – Where trees burn… (amended, it would seem, for the online edition) – playing on Heinrich Heine’s prediction pertaining to the burning of books.

“I told you so,” repeats the arrogant bald tosser ad infinitum, delighting in his would-be prescience, while admitting that he knows nothing about the cause of the fire (he couldn’t have, seeing as the deadline for submissions would have been around midnight on Thursday).

You see, Israeli journalists of the far left love nothing more than the knee-jerk response. And while the cause of the fire, together with the obvious lack of preparedness for it, will result in yet another state commission of inquiry, Haaretz’s hyperbole and overkill – Friday’s edition featured two other, similar front page comment pieces (see below) – typifies the kind of gratuitous, tasteless Israel-bashing in which it appears to so delight whenever controversy, hardship or tragedy strikes the country (see, for example, Washing, folding . . . and binning Haaretz?)

While two arrests have now been made, Amir Oren penned Call it murder before any evidence of foul play had come to light. “If [the fire] turns out to be man-made . . . ,” he starts one sentence, before then seeming to forget to amend his stupidly irresponsible title (the online edition adds this qualification as its by-line).

And in The firefighters’ Yom Kippur War – you couldn’t make it up! (title again changed online) – Aluf Benn somehow contrives to use the tragedy to warn “Israel not to embark on war against Iran.”

Can Haaretz really be surprised when, as it has admitted, so many people phone up to cancel their subscriptions? If Israel’s other English language newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, wasn’t quite so lame, I would probably do so too.

Fire raging at Kibbutz Beit Oren

(But moving away from these shameless, self-loathing, journalistic assholes to the people who really count . . . ) There are just so many awful ironies in this continuing tragedy, commencing as it did on the very first day of Chanukah. On Friday evening, for example, Israeli TV broadcast the candle-lighting of members of Kibbutz Beit Oren, one of the places worst hit by the fire. And as a kibbutznikit read aloud the blessing ending “she’asa nisim la’avoteinu ba’yamim ha’hem ba’zman ha’zeh” – Who has wrought miracles for our forefathers in those days at this season – the news anchor commented wryly, “In those days, maybe . . . but I am not so sure about these.”

I save till last (and most definitely least) my favourite (if you can have such a thing!) bête noire: Turkey. Following the contemptible way in which this nation of nauseating hypocrites has turned on Israel – its erstwhile ally and even saviour (during the 1999 Izmit earthquake) – over the last couple of years, I would tell Prime Minister Erdogan to shove the two firefighting planes offered to us right up an ‘alley’ (the Turk’s favourite) where the fires don’t burn (except, perhaps, after a spicy kebab).

We will get through this latest test just like we get through all of them . . . and without help from Turkey, or our own dickheads at Haaretz.

Nimas Lee: An open letter to HOT

To: HOT customer service, fax number 07770 78231

December 1, 2010

To Whom It May Concern, HOT:

I have been extremely frustrated, for some years now, by the supreme incompetence of HOT’s customer service . . .

Whenever I call HOT, its automated telephone system fails (unfailingly) to recognise my mobile number: 054 554 11** [asterisks for melchett mike]. So, too, do HOT’s customer service representatives (when they eventually pick up, that is – rarely before 10-15 minutes of recorded bollocks, and if the call does not ‘spontaneously’ disconnect beforehand).

The aforementioned is my number. It has always been my number. It was never the number of Robert Lee [nimas li, for non-Hebrew speaking readers, means “I am fed up/have had enough,” hence the wordplay in the title], a visitor from the US who rented my apartment in 2001/2: one of HOT’s many mini-brained customer service representatives must have added it to Mr. Lee’s account when I left it as a contact number after informing HOT that he no longer lived here.

I live at (and own) apartment 3 at (building number) ** Melchett, Tel Aviv. I don’t live (nor have I ever) at 3 Melchett. Even if I succeed in persuading a customer service representative that I am not Robert Lee, I then have to spend a further 10-15 minutes getting them to believe that I live at ** (and not 3) Melchett. This whole process, as you can perhaps understand, can be extremely tedious and irksome.

Following numerous calls to HOT last year in an attempt to resolve this situation, I was asked – in order to prove that I live at ** (and not 3) Melchett – to fax my ID card, together with its address supplement, to HOT’s Finance Department. This I did, even confirming receipt over the phone. And, yet, still to this day showing as my address in HOT’s customer service records is . . . yes, you guessed it . . . 3 Melchett.

For some insane reason – essentially, because 012 Smile’s telephone service does not work very well (in fact, it is shit) – I called HOT last week to order its telephone line (without time commitment) instead. Once again, your customer service representative, Simona, was unable to locate my details. Moreover, she went on to insist that I must be Robert Lee, because . . . wait for it . . . I have the same telephone number as him and live in his apartment! On the verge of tearing my hair out, I attempted to reason with Simona that it was highly unlikely that two individuals would have the same telephone number and that the problem, therefore, must be with HOT’s customer service database. But to no avail.

Neither did the facts that I have had HOT Internet and TV services in my name for one and two years, respectively, satisfy Simona: I provided her with both my ID number and the last four digits of the credit card with which I have been paying HOT, but . . . nada. Most infuriating of all – listen to the call (HOT claims it records them) – Simona seemed to expect me to resolve the problem. She eventually agreed to call back when she had located my details . . . but, surprise, surprise, zilcherino! Further telephone conversations – with Mor and Talia, from the “Chanit” and “Maya” teams, respectively – failed to yield results, or even the return courtesy calls promised.

HOT’s customer service – a misnomer if ever there was one – is, even by the abysmal standards of Israeli customer service, an absolute shambles and disgrace. Indeed, never have I come across such incompetence and ineptitude in an organisation (not to mention a commercial one). Even former clients from my days in criminal defence law were more reliable than anything I have encountered at HOT.

You will be unsurprised to learn that I did not renew my contract for HOT’s TV service when it expired a fortnight ago. And neither will I for its Internet service when it runs out in June 2011. In fact, as I slowly disentangle myself from all things HOT, I am starting to feel a remarkable weight lifting from my stressed, tired shoulders.

Happy Chanukah.

Yours respectfully,

Mike Isaacson

PS I have also posted this letter to my blog, melchett mike, at https://melchettmike.wordpress.com/

[See also HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar]

Mission Nonsensical: Goldstone’s F*cked Findings

The talking point in Israel (and indeed the “Jewish world”), this past week, has been whether Judge Richard Goldstone – the head of the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza War, whose report accuses Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity – is an example of yet another Jew too willing to sell out to our many enemies . . . or has merely been doing his job.

Judge Richard GoldstoneFrom what I have read about the man (photographed right), I am not convinced that he is a Pinter, a Sayle, a Kaufman, or one of their repugnant ilk. But as a Jew who, apparently, “is a Zionist and loves Israel”, it may have been more judicious for the Judge not to have accepted the mandate (however good for his CV) in the first place, especially since he knew (or ought to have known) that Israel would not cooperate with an investigation commissioned by a totally one-sided resolution (Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, had already declined it, describing the UN Human Rights Council as “guided not by human rights, but by politics”). And, following his “shock as a Jew” to be offered it, Goldstone may have felt that he had to go out of his way to prove his objectivity. And “go out of his way” he did.

By most accounts, Judge Goldstone is a man of impeccable conviction. But the South African would also appear to be one of startling naivety. In an op-ed in last Thursday’s New York Times, he wrote:

“I am unaware of any case where a Hamas fighter was punished for deliberately shooting a rocket into a civilian area in Israel — on the contrary, Hamas leaders repeatedly praise such acts.”

Well, boker tov (good morning), Judge Goldstone! (And didn’t you forget “orchestrate”?)

But I am not interested in the man. Neither am I interested in his fact-finding mission – to investigate Israel’s alleged violations of the laws of war, international human rights and humanitarian law during last winter’s Operation Cast Lead – nor, even, its ostensibly damning conclusions. And why? Because the mission’s very premise was not only entirely wrong, but utterly nonsensical . . . making an irrelevance of its findings.

Hamas, the despotic ruler of Gaza, is an Islamofascist organisation with the raison d’être of destroying Israel. Eight and a half years (and counting) of unprovoked rocket attacks against Israel’s southern communities, together with Hamas’s cowardly combat tactics – from amongst densely populated civilian areas, and inside mosques, schools and hospitals – make a mockery of “laws of war”, and even of “human rights” as they are commonly understood.

Whilst not as developed, such laws existed long before the Second World War. But did the Allies take them into account prior to, during, or even following, their carpet-bombing of Hamburg and Dresden, in which they killed tens of thousands of ‘innocent’ German civilians? Did they heck! Their top priority, and quite properly, was to bring as swift an end as possible to a war against – and started by – an uncompromising Fascist aggressor, with minimum casualties to their own soldiers. And did the British fight the “Argies” with kid gloves in the Falklands? And are they and the Americans doing so in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Whilst the IDF goes further than any army the world over not only to act, but to be seen to act, humanely – it knows, after all, that it is being judged by a unique standard (see the next paragraph) – “laws of war” and “human rights” will inevitably sometimes be contravened when defending one’s country against a murderous aggressor that respects neither (even the “rights” of its own people). And ordinary Gazans are responsible for their rulers – if they choose to continue living under, and by, the sword, they must be prepared to die by it.

The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel fifteen times in less than two years . . . but no other country even once. Not Russia. Not China. Not North Korea. Not Burma. Not Sri Lanka. Not Zimbabwe. Not the Congo. Not Equatorial Guinea. Not Somalia. Not Sudan. Not Libya. Not Saudi Arabia. Not Syria. Not Iran. Israel was fully justified in not cooperating with an organisation which never treats it fairly, and with an investigation which it knew was just out to get it. What’s next from the UN? A fact-finding mission to investigate whether Mossad agents respect the laws of international espionage and agent rights before delivering enemies to their 72 virgins?

Israel is not perfect. It has made misjudgements and mistakes, and, yes, maybe even violated laws. Israel would not, however, exist today if – in its permanent state of war with godless enemies who wait to pounce on its every weakness – it had given more weight to legal tomes than to military necessity. And that war – with Hamas, Hizbollah, and other Islamofascists hellbent on its destruction – is one of light against darkness, good against evil, civilisation against barbarism. It is that “comic strip” simple. And it is a war in which the entire western world will soon be embroiled, not just in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan . . . but in its very own backyard. That the schmocks at the UN can be so myopic . . .

When push comes to shove – and it always does here (as a result of its size, the first war Israel loses will be its last) – we do not have to justify, or apologise for, our right to live. Not to anyone. Never again.

So, f*ck the UN. F*ck its fact-finding missions. And f*ck its reports. (Click here for my fuller treatise on the subject.)

More deserving of contempt than Judge Goldstone, this week, was Ha’aretz ‘journalist’ Yoel Marcus, who wrote the following in last weekend’s op-ed:

“[many countries] accuse us of strengthening extremist Islam and committing war crimes. And all we need now is to stick our noses into Iranian affairs by bombing its nuclear facilities . . . We must not even dream of a move like that at a time when America is coordinating international pressure on Tehran.”

“Stick our noses into Iranian affairs”?!

Mr. Marcus, perhaps you consider Israel’s air strike on the Osirak nuclear reactor to have been an unwarranted “nose stuck” into Saddam’s “affairs”? And, by similar logic, that Israel was correct to wait for Egyptian and Syrian “affairs” to develop unhindered in 1973?

And “coordinating international pressure on Tehran”?

Yes, that should do it, Mr. Marcus – a resolution of condemnation from the United Nations. And, if that doesn’t work, the UN could perhaps issue a further one . . . but, this time, “in the strongest terms”. Ahmadinejad clearly wouldn’t mess with that.

The Persian dwarf showed his true colours again, on Wednesday, in his speech to the UN General Assembly (full text):

“The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a "Praise be Allah . . . I'm gettin' there!"deceitful, complex and furtive manner. It is deeply disastrous to witness that some presidential or premiere nominees in some big countries have to visit these people, take part in their gatherings, swear their allegiance and commitment to their interests in order to attain financial or media support. This means that the great people of America and various nations of Europe need to obey the demands and wishes of a small number of acquisitive and invasive people.”

Ring any bells, Mr. Marcus? And, as Ha’aretz would appear to have cut back on its library resources, here is a compilation of other statements by Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust and alluding to, calling for, or directly threatening, Israel’s destruction. And guess what . . . we discover today that Iran now has a second nuclear facility.

Where does Ha’aretz find these pillocks? Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Nehemia Shtrasler, Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff . . . they have all received dishonourable mention on melchett mike. And now there’s a new f*ckwit on the block.

And, talking of “blocks”, if you tend to suffer from the writer’s variety, Mr. Marcus, I can highly recommend starting a blog . . . then you won’t have to write bollocks when you have nothing useful to say.

HOT . . . in the bedroom and under the collar

Over a drink in Tel Aviv yesterday evening, a friend divulged details to me of the HOT Action that he and his girlfriend have been enjoying in the bedroom.

Alas, he was not referring to “action” of the rumpy-pumpy, bit of the other, “ooh err missus” sort . . . but that of the Channel 14 variety (14 is the action movie channel on Israel’s HOT cable TV network).

A mere matter of weeks into a new relationship – and with a particularly attractive woman – said friend, who doesn’t have a television in his own apartment, has started to appreciate the benefits of his girlfriend’s.

So, every evening, they rip off each other’s clothes, jump into bed . . .  and watch telly.

This, it has to be said, does not bode particularly well for their relationship. HOT’s standard fare of tasteless wannabe/quasi-celebrity “Isratrash” and shit films (repeated ad infinitum) has transformed the international news networks – BBC, CNN, Fox, and Sky – into the staple television diet of most English-speaking households in Israel.

I pay a monthly 210 shekels (about 35 British pounds) to, in effect, have Sky News “rolling” on in the background – it has taken on an elevator music-like quality in my apartment – but, essentially, for the luxury (for a further 50 shekels) of being able to watch the English Premier League from Dexxy’s and Stuey’s (previously my) Rechov Melchett couch.

"I hate HOT!"HOT’s abysmal programming (with the notable exception of Channel 8 documentaries) is matched only by its miserably inefficient, unreliable and thoroughly discourteous customer service . . . easily the worst I have experienced in a country in which it faces formidable competition in that regard (see my earlier post, The Buyer’s a Freier).

There is even a Hebrew website, Ani soneh et HOT! – translated as “I hate HOT!” (logo above) – dedicated to the seemingly widespread contempt for the network. (If any readers of melchett mike wish to suggest a more worthy contender for the title of Worst Customer Service in Israel, please do so below.)

I spent yesterday morning – like so many others during my decade in Israel – pulling my hair out in the futile wait for a HOT technician. “Seven-thirty to nine,” I had been confidently assured by HOT’s telephone customer service representative.

The technician didn’t turn up. Neither did he call. And, to add insult to injury, after I demanded compensation for the wasted two hours off work, HOT’s customer service manager offered me a temporary extra channel (to add to the over one hundred others that I never watch).

“The Food Channel? What . . . for a WHOLE MONTH?! Wow! Yeh! That’ll be fine then.”

When the technician finally did turn up, yesterday evening, Dexxy treated herself to a taste of his calf. That showed him! Bastard.

So, I will be voting with my feet and switching to HOT’s satellite competitor, YES. Either that, or I will splash out a one-off 400 shekels for a receiver that will allow me to view Israel’s handful of terrestrial channels.

And, should I desire some HOT Action, I could always pop round to my friend’s girlfriend . . . sounds like he could definitely do with some ‘assistance’ in that regard.

Moti, you ain’t no Motty!

Slimy, spurious psychics (see June’s Mook of the Month) aside, the hotly-contested title of Most Offensive Israeli, contrary to popular belief, does not go to the swindling taxi driver who besmirches all of his fellow countrymen within an hour of tourists landing at Ben Gurion Airport.

And, though I despise them with a passion, neither does it go to the HOT (cable company) customer disservice representative who cuts off callers – I am convinced deliberately – after keeping them on hold for 45 minutes.

Its recipient is not the arrogant American “settler” who should have done us all a favour and stayed, together with his ugly fanaticism, in Teaneck or Borough Park.

Neither is it the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox Jew) who gives little or nothing to the State but still believes that he has the right to dictate to all of us who do how we should live our lives.

And it does not even go to the Neanderthal beach predator in his Speedos (three sizes too small, naturally).

No, the title of Most Offensive Israeli goes to none of the above. And the toughest challenge of Aliyah is not, as is commonly thought, the lower salary, the stifling hot summers, or even the rudeness . . . it is having to suffer the Israeli TV sports commentator.

During Wimbledon fortnight, which ended yesterday, Sport 5 (Israeli cable TV) commentators appeared to feel compelled to employ every nonsensical cultural stereotype about the English . . . but got even those wrong. So, for instance, when Andy Murray’s fourth round match ended at 10:39 p.m. last Monday, we had to endure interminable silly references to the English spectators having to wait for their dinners of “kidney pie” (for those fortunate enough not to know, it is steak and kidney).

And those same commentators were remarkably incapable of distinguishing between spectators’ Englishness, Murray’s Scottishness, and all of their Britishness (for me, after being knocked out, Murray immediately reverted to “miserable Jock”).

Whilst his knowledge and understanding of his subject may be negligible, however, the Israeli sports commentator – like so many of his compatriots – delivers his ignorance with the conviction of the world-renowned authority.

Avi MellerI once, in a Tel Aviv pub, confronted Sport 5′s Avi Meller (right) – a self-proclaimed expert on English football (on the basis that he once, apparently, spent a couple of years in London) – for never mentioning Leeds United’s David Wetherall, then in his mid-twenties, without the epithet “ha’vatik” (the veteran). Meller said he was grateful to be corrected . . . and then continued as before.

Having grown up in a country steeped in sporting tradition (even if a losing one), I won’t deny that there is more than a little snobbery in my disdain for the local sports coverage. But what right do Israeli commentators have to refer to Liverpool footballer Steven Gerrard, as they continually do, as “Stevie Gee”?!

Not for the Israeli sports commentator the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words”, nor the sacred rule – applied by the very best TV journalists and commentators the world over – of “Letting the pictures speak for themselves”. No, he prefers to speak (usually bollocks) for the pictures, with the result that many will only watch them with the sound turned down. Moreover, his predictions – which are, generally, ridiculously reactive to the toings and froings of a particular match – are invariably and uncannily wrong.

Israeli TV’s football studio pundits are even more insufferable than its commentators, the ex-pros having to be suffered most being the Arse’s Arse (Hebrew for medallion man) Itzik Zohar and that most arrogant of gobshites Eyal Berkovic.

Itzik ZoharZohar (left, during one of his eight [including four as substitute] appearances for Crystal Palace) has not let his “glassing”, last year, on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard – which left him requiring 52 stitches to his face – dent his formidable ego (many believe the unknown assailant to have been a vengeful boyfriend or husband).

Neither does Zohar’s ignominious inclusion in Crystal Palace fans’ all-time worst eleven – believe me, he had some competition! – prevent him from pontificating about Champions’ League football. Yes, this is the very same Itzik Zohar to whom Palace fans used to sing: “One Itzik Zohar. There’s only one Itzik Zohar. One Itzik Zohar. One too many.” When Crystal Palace fans sing that – and to one of their own – it is time to consider not only hanging up one’s boots . . . but also why one ever put them on in the first place.

Eyal BerkovicZohar, however,  is a positive breath of fresh air when sitting alongside Berkovic (right), who delights in publicly, spitefully rubbishing Israeli League players purely on the basis that they are not as good as he once was. Many Israelis’ fondest memory, however, of the career of Berkovic – who, as one of the country’s all-time great footballers, should have been a national treasure – is of the time his West Ham teammate John Hartson kicked him in the face during training. That the actions of the yobbish Welshman were understood by many here tells you everything you need to know about this odious little tosser.

Domestic football appeals, almost exclusively, to the lowest common denominator of Israeli society (see my second ever post on melchett mike: Ran Ben Shimon: A Deeper Malaise). And most of my fellow expat Brits regard it in much the same way that the former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly did his city rivals: “If Everton were playing down the bottom of my garden,” he memorably quipped, “I’d draw the curtains.” Rather more intelligent, professional coverage by the Israeli media, however, might change (if slowly) its public perception.

Modi Bar-OnThe glowing exception to the embarrassment that is Israeli television sport is the excellent, charismatic Sport 5 John Motsonpresenter Modi Bar-On (left), who would give even a Des Lynam or an Adrian Chiles a run for their money.

But, oh, what Israel would give for an Alan Hansen or a John Motson (right) . . . though, in these climes, “Motty” might have to do something about that sheepskin coat!

Orgies are a Sin: Big Brother Keeps Kosher

It’s official: Israel’s Big Brother is kosher, after all. The news follows the censorship of a housemate’s account of a bet he once made on his chances of persuading a woman to participate in group sex.

Ha’Ach Ha’Gadol, Israel’s version of the international reality TV show, has provoked wide public debate about the dumbing-down of broadcasting standards here. Whilst undeniable drivel, aimed at the lowest common denominator, it can – without care – become strangely addictive (a telly-addict friend of mine, Liat, was staying with me on the inaugural evening, back in September . . . so it is her fault!) One (first) date even insisted that we sit opposite the bar’s television so that she wouldn’t miss anything.

The original 16 housemates were obviously hand-picked with some care. One admitted to being very homophobic and racist (but knew that women couldn’t resist him), whilst another boasted about being an evil bitch. Thankfully, both were promptly evicted. With most of the interesting (however contemptible) characters gone, though, the show’s producers were recently forced to draft in four new faces, much to the consternation of many hardcore followers, who (rightly) felt cheated.

yossi-bublilYossi Bublil, the 54-year old at the centre of the current group sex controversy – and who many believe to be the evolutionary ‘Missing Link’ – has become something of a trash-cultural icon in Israel. He is in the house with his daughter, Einav, who sometimes makes former UK Big Brother ‘star’ Jade Goody – she of the famous “They were trying to use me as an escape goat” line (forcing her former school to declare that she was not a typical pupil) – appear refined.

ranin-bulosTo my mind, the only real reason to watch Ha’Ach Ha’Gadol is Ranin Boulos, the only Arab housemate (she is Christian), who gives the lie to the belief that all Arab women look like Hanan Ashrawi. If only they had stapled her lips together before letting her in. She cried and complained to Big Brother about the recital of Friday evening Kiddush in the house – this must have come as a genuine shock to her . . . after volunteering to share a dwelling with 15 Jews. She then clearly fell for an(other) arrogant tosser in the house – sobbing uncontrollably when he was promptly tossed out – which should add interest to her eventual reunion with her Arab boyfriend (she might be well-advised to have her brothers present).

Apart from there being nothing illegal about asking a woman to participate in group sex (she apparently declined), the banning of the offending clip from Channel 2’s highlights package and YouTube – it had been posted by a viewer of the live, round-the-clock broadcast (on Channel 20) – smacks of gross hypocrisy, when the raison d’être of Ha’Ach Ha’Gadol is titillation. The feigned moral outrage doesn’t fool anyone, when the show’s producers must be rubbing their hands with glee at the increased publicity and revenues Bublil’s revelations will no doubt earn them.