Israeli TV satirist thrives on political turmoil


As Israel heads to its fourth election in two years, the host of the country’s favorite satirical TV show has a request, and he’s only half kidding.

“I wish we finally had a stable government and made a boring program,” said Eyal Kitsis, frontman of Channel 12’s “Eretz Nehederet” (A Wonderful Country).

As much as Israel’s political turmoil can strain the patience of the electorate, it has been the gold of television because “reality is crazy,” Kitsis told AFP.

“Elections and politics have really become fun in this country. Our challenge as a satirical program is to add a layer to it, to take it to the next level. “

On the show, an impassive Kitsis often interviews a fake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, portrayed as a smug character with a brilliant gray-purple combination.

When asked tough questions, the Prime Minister’s harsh answers mysteriously make the questions disappear, thus maintaining “Bibi’s” reputation as a political magician who survives any challenge, even a corruption trial.

Netanyahu himself appeared on the series, alongside his comic double.

Screenshot of a video of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (he is on the right) on “Eretz Nehederet”. (Channel 12)

Although not running for office, Netanyahu’s wife Sara is portrayed as the real leader of Israel who makes key decisions such as the appointment of the head of the Mossad spy agency.

Netanyahu’s ill-fated rival turned short-lived government partner, former army chief Benny Gantz, is described as a mild-mannered “The Incredible Hulk” character who tries to turn up rage as waves of former supporters are calling for his resignation.

While the last three Israeli elections have pitted Netanyahu against Gantz, Tuesday’s vote puts him against a new group of challengers – centrist Yair Lapid, right-wing candidate Naftali Bennett and right-wing Likud defector Gideon Saar.

“All of a sudden there was a lot of suspense,” Kitsis said. “There are so many interesting topics that it also energizes the writing. “

The show’s creators had fun making fun of Saar and pitting him against a hip-hop battle against Netanyahu and other right-wing contenders.

“Once Saar announced his party, also on the right, it led to a dynamic that we didn’t have in the previous election,” Kitsis said.

As Israel contemplates another election, the outcome of which is highly uncertain, series co-creator and producer Muli Segev wonders what the next step is, especially if Israel ends up with a stable government.

“How are we going to have another season without an election? he said. “We got used to this situation where the country is always at the forefront, still living an electoral campaign.

“Elections are always good for our program, even if it is not for Israel. “

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