'Make Big Brother Orthodox-friendly'


Usually, when settler activists cry foul over housing, it is because they cannot get permits to build in the West Bank. But in the latest saga on Israel's far right, the bone of contention is the opportunity to live in a luxury mansion close to Israel's centre.

The mansion that Itamar Ben-Gvir leader of the Jewish National Front, hoped to move in to is the set of Israeli Big Brother. But the producers who offered him a place did not accept his preconditions. These included rooms where could stay on Shabbat to avoid transgression by appearing on film, kosher cooking facilities and a supply of minyan-making extras to ensure that he could pray three times a day with a quorum.

Mr Ben-Gvir is not the most popular political figures, considered extreme even by the hard-right. The Hebron-based settler is a self-defined disciple of Meir Kahane, rightist rabbi and politician whose Kach party was deemed racist and banned in 1986.

But when Big Brother's producers approached him with an offer of a place in the programme's new season in December, he decided it could be his route to mainstream acceptance. "The Israeli media is usually very left-wing, so if I was in the house it would give a different perspective," he said.

Even though it looks as if he will not be taking residence, he is calling upon producers to make Big Brother frum-friendly so that other religious people can. Keshet, the network that commissions Big Brother, is not ruling out the possibility. Its spokeswoman said that his rejection was "nothing to do with his [religious] requests".

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