Radio host sorry, suspended after anti-Semitism controversy
Published Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:22AM EST
A Montreal radio station has issued an apology and suspended one of its hosts for a month, in response to a controversy sparked by unchecked anti-Semitic comments heard on an overnight call-in show.
The incident occurred last Wednesday, during French-language Montreal radio station 98.5 FM's late-night, open-line program hosted by Jacques Fabi.
A female caller who identified herself as Maria made some critical remarks about Israel's recent military campaign in Gaza. Then, she asked Fabi if he knew about the Holocaust.
"Yes, a little," Fabi replied, at which point the caller continued:
"For me, it was the most beautiful thing that happened in history."
Then, rather than chastise the caller or halt the approximate four-minute conversation, Fabi responded with remarks that critics say added insult to injury.
"Essentially, he went on saying that they do a lot of things in the community that (Fabi) doesn't like, but you've gotta be very careful because if you say things wrong about them, it'll cost you very dearly," B’nai Brith Canada lawyer Steven Slimovitch told CTV News.
On Monday, the radio station's parent company Cogeco Diffusion issued a statement apologizing for the comments, noting "they are fundamentally contrary to the applicable rules."
The company also confirmed the show's host has been suspended without pay for a one-month period.
"The on-air host, Jacques Fabi, failed his obligation to observe and enforce the codes of ethics of the industry and of COGECO Diffusion in the circumstances," it said, adding the company deplores "without reservation, the on-air host's lack of judgment in this case."
In his own personal letter of apology released to the public Monday, Fabi also apologized for his "careless" handling of the incident.
"For over 35 years, I have run a night-time call-in show and this is not the first time a listener has tried to convey unacceptable messages; I always reacted quickly to avoid these situations, except the last week," he wrote. "I have disrespected the Jewish population and all my listeners. In addition, I have also discredited my show."
Fabi promised to be more careful when he returns to the airwaves next month, but the vow wasn't enough to satisfy Rabbi Reuben Poupko.
"I think most reasonable people would agree that an egregious line has been crossed and a dismissal of the broadcaster is in order," he said.
With files from CTV's Maya Johnson in Montreal