Israeli television certainly has its moments. On Thursday night, as much of the Western world relaxed and got ready to toast the New Year and many TV channels ran fluffy items, things got heated on a popular Israeli talk show. Jamal Zahalka, a lawmaker from the Arab party Balad was in the Tel Aviv studio of Erev Hadasha (“New Evening”), a Channel 23 program which is broadcast live. After a few moments of amicable discussion, the focus turned to Gaza and Zahalka accused Defense Minister Ehud Barak of killing children. The interviewer, former Haaretz journalist Dan Margalit, initially responded with a rather understated remark that the comment was a ”chutzpah.” Then, in true Israeli-style, a fight began — propelled not by the subject under discussion but by the various names that the two men called each other.
The fight lasted around a minute and a half. Then the interviewee was removed from the studio. In most other countries one imagines that the presenter would have dusted himself off, composed himself, and got the show back on track. Not in Israel! As the co-presenter shifted uncomfortably and tried to move on, Margalit started speaking about the altercation and got his frustrations off his chest. The back-and-forth restarted, and ended with Zahalka yelling that the studio is located in Sheikh Munis, an old Arab village. Margalit responded by claiming that the incident shows Zahalka’s true colors as a politician who wants all of Israel to become Palestine and not just areas that Israel captured in 1967. The footage has been posted on YouTube with an English translation that gives the general idea but isn’t correct throughout.