The first season of Big Brother in Israel ended last night. This show was by far the most popular in Israel. Highest viewing rating on Israeli TV. Ever.
In a sense, what made this show such a huge hit and got people to send over 2 million votes on the last week alone, was the brilliant casting of Yossi Boublil (Booblil?) and Shifra Cornfeld.
These two “arch-enemies” of the show resurrected the old demon of Israeli society of Mizrahim (Sepharadi) vs. Ashkenazim. Boublil’s daughter, also a participant, was the one who brought it up to begin with. It was her father, with his heavy Lybian accent and unique mannerism took on the role of the ultimate Mizrahi. On the other hand, Shifra Cornfeld, with her looks, language and body language (not to mention the family name), was Ashkenazi personified, as much as that even exists in Israel today.
For the “Hafaka” – Hebrew for producers and the local term used when referring to the show’s management team – this was literally a goldmine. Evoking the old demons had people glued to the TV. Will the “Mizrahim” finally take over? In the last week or so, with Cornfeld becoming almost a minority in the group, it almost looked like she is taunted for being Ashkenazi.
The general feeling was that Boublil is going to win – big time. That Mizrahim will be voting for him, en mass; that Shifra’s audience, the Dead Friedmans (a term introduced into Israeli cultural discourse by Boublil’s daughter), are too elitist to send SMS messages for a reality show; that Israeli culture has been taken over by herds of shallow supporters of what “Friendmans” see as a vulgar loud man.
Huge surprise: Shifra Cornfeld won, and by a huge margin too. I can’t really explain why – not sure who can. The Dead Friedman are alive again?