Radio Silence: Radio host Jacques Fabi suspended after CIJA files complaint

Jacques Fabi (Photo: Canoe)

By Eta Yudin
Associate Director, Quebec Public Affairs and Jewish Community Relations at The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs

Jacques Fabi, the host of “Fabi a la nuit” which airs on the French radio station, 98.5FM, was suspended by broadcaster COGECO Diffusion for a month without pay following a successful intervention by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA-Quebec).  Amongst its many roles, CIJA-Quebec continuously monitors media outlets to ensure fair and accurate coverage of stories involving Israel or other Jewish-related issues; generally speaking, this has resulted in fewer occurrences of anti-Israel remarks in the media.

The incident in question occurred during the early morning hours of Thursday, November 22, when Mr. Fabi failed to act appropriately while a caller voiced unacceptable comments regarding Jews and the Holocaust.  Mr. Fabi found no reason to end the call or to admonish the caller for her hateful statements, and shockingly added that he wished he could have the same liberties as an “anonymous” caller, but, instead, he was forced to wear “white gloves” when dealing with the “annoying” Jewish community.

An immediate response

David Ouellette, CIJA-Quebec’s Associate Director for Public Affairs, immediately contacted the radio station and made a formal complaint to management.  He added that “Mr. Fabi’s comments and failure to act violate the code of ethics of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, and frankly go against the values of all Quebecers.  We are pleased that the Station Manager, Mr. Réal Germain, reacted immediately to our concerns with a call, assuring our community and all Quebecers that this type of behavior would not go unsanctioned.  True to its word, COGECO Diffusion has already taken steps to begin the healing process and ensure that the code of ethics is respected.”

Mr. Ouellette gave a number of interviews to print and electronic media emphasizing the Community’s stand that this behavior was unacceptable and ensuring that a zero-tolerance policy be enforced.

It must be noted that Mr. Fabi has since written a formal apology to the Jewish community, which CIJA-Quebec has acknowledged. CIJA-Quebec Spokesperson Rabbi Reuben Poupko added, “we would hope that this would give radio show hosts pause should they be faced with a similar situation.  We would have expected more from an industry veteran, and it will take him a long time to earn his employer’s trust and that of his listeners.”  CIJA-Quebec is still hoping that an on-air apology be forthcoming, both by the station, and upon Mr. Fabi’s return to the airwaves. CIJA-Quebec has also filed a complaint with the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.

Staying vigilant

Unfortunately, this is not the first incident of its kind.  Last year, radio-host Benoit Dutrizac uttered anti-Semitic statements on the same station, taking aim at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and those who celebrate theses holy days.  CIJA was quick to act in this case as well and their official complaint to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was upheld and the station was forced to issue a public, on-air apology.

While CIJA does cast a wide net in the media monitoring that they do, they encourage members of the community to alert them to media coverage of concern.

About CIJA

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is a non-partisan organization creating and implementing strategies to improve the quality of Jewish life in Quebec, increase support for Israel, and strengthen the Canada-Israel and Quebec-Israel relationships.

Working in partnership with Federations and local communities, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada – UIA. It seeks to identify issues important to the Jewish community and assist in communicating with government, media, community, business, and academic leaders to build understanding and close relationships. Recognizing the important role that the Jewish community can play in the public life of Canada, the Centre works to establish and strengthen positive and mutually beneficial relations with other faith and ethnocultural communities. Using research to better understand issues and opinions, the Centre works to coordinate, streamline, and direct strategic, targeted advocacy programming on behalf of the vibrant and varied Jewish community across Canada.

We welcome your feedback and invite your comments.

Leave a comment

Reader comments are the opinion of the comment writer, not Federation CJA

Comments that make false or unsubstantiated allegations will not be published, nor will comments that contain defamatory, inaccurate, rude, distasteful, disrespectful, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented or threatening language.

Comments that use hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge also may not be permitted.

Federation CJA reserves the right to withhold from publication comments that are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted. Comments that include personal attacks on other people taking part in this website and/or are invasive of another's privacy may also be withheld from publication.

Spelling and grammatical mistakes will not be corrected.