As the second season for Arabs Got Talent kicked off few months ago, one judge had been causing more than his fair share of buzz.
Many have compared Ali Jaber to Simon Cowell, the straight-talking, and sometimes a little too blunt, judge of the UK version of the show; but Jaber is also known for his fast, undisputable slam on the disqualifying button for ‘violent’ talent acts.
Jaber’s firm stand against violence is without any doubt a matter of principle, but it could also be the reaction to a deep scar from his youth: Lebanon’s civil war.
Recently, a picture of Jaber in what appears to be a war scene has widely circulated on the net.
The Lebanese media man said he didn’t know about the existence of this photo until last year.
Commenting on it Jaber said: “The picture was taken during the Lebanese civil war, in the eighties, as I was volunteering with the Red Cross. We had helped in the evacuation of a family trapped in a building in the Caracas neighborhood of Beirut, and the photo was taken at that time.”“
Group TV director at MBC, Jaber proved high consistency in his stands and opinions during the show. Violence was always a no-no, but meanwhile, his encouragement of more original and not necessarily popular form of arts remained unchanged as well.
In an interview with Al Arabiya, Jaber said he is not afraid of violence, but he determinedly and undeniably rejects it in all its forms.
Ali Jaber, originally from the Southern Lebanese City of Nabatiyeh recalls, “our house was bombed several times by the Israeli army and I, myself, was injured three times by gunshots.”
During Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990), Jaber had already made up his mind when it comes to violence. He rejected it since then, and volunteered within the Red Cross.
“But you have to understand, he said, we are the war generation; we are all influenced in one way or another by the deadly conflict that shook our country”
In an attempt to explain the high numbers of views and the somewhat triumph of violent acts amongst Arab audiences, Jaber said that usually “action” is sought after everywhere. “Just notice the Box Office movies all over the world”, he added. “People love daring and violent scenes”.
But the main difference, according to Jaber, is that Arab society looks at the male figure from a ‘macho’ point of view. “Man is sometimes defined by his lack of emotions in our societies, which in my opinion, is naive”, Jaber said.
“For me, a man is filled with emotions and sensitivity “.
Jaber also raised some concerns towards Lebanon’s new generation and the current unsteady situation in the country.
“I am worried, he said, that this generation looks at war with a certain romanticism, as if they can’t wait to carry arms. Maybe because some parents talk about the war with nostalgia, which I find completely irresponsible as it creates a desire in their children to tell stories about themselves too in a war. “
“Today, it is mostly our generation, the war generation, which stands against the conflict, because we know the harm it can cause. I just hope the young people are smart enough not to live it, but to learn from it”
Arabs Got Talent, the Arab version of the “Got Talent” British TV format debuted in 2011 on MBC4, a channel part of MBC group, the largest broadcaster in the Arab world.
The show proved very successful and highly popular in the region; the contestants rapidly became stars, or sometimes ‘big fail’ protagonists of widespread jokes.
The judges, singer Najwa Karam, actor Nasser Al Qasabi, who are already famed superstars, and journalist Ali Jaber, soon became household names in the entire region.