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ABC apologises over talkback caller’s antisemitic slur following AIJAC complaint

Jul 3, 2020 | AIJAC staff

Ian "Macca" Macnamara
Ian "Macca" McNamara of ABC Radio's "Australia All Over"

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) has welcomed an on-air apology by ABC Radio host Ian McNamara over an antisemitic slur made by a talkback caller on the May 03, 2020 episode of the ABC Radio program “Australia All Over with Ian McNamara.”

Following an investigation, ABC Audience and Consumer Affairs accepted AIJAC was justified in formally complaining over antisemitic comments made by a talkback caller to the program which Mr McNamara had ignored.

The caller identified herself as from a town in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, and said the factory she was the manager of in the 1980s had been bought out by a “big Jew” and characterised the purchase as wholly negative for the employees and the general community. According to the caller, the factory “employed so many people. And when I was working they were worried sick that this big Jew was gonna buy it out, buy us out. And blow me down eventually he did and he broke, and he sold all our machinery and everything went over to, he sold it to over China.”

The ABC response to AIJAC’s complaint said “the antisemitic slur was not heard by the presenter” and that Mr. McNamara had made an on-air apology on Sunday 28 June, saying:

“Last month on our program on the third of May we had a caller who made a comment that caused hurt and offence to the Jewish community. The ABC apologises for the oversight that let this remark go to air.  It has been removed from our podcast of that program.”

ABC Regional management also offered “sincere apologies for the offence caused” and reassured AIJAC that Mr McNamara’s failure to hear the remark “is not provided as an excuse for the comment going to air”.

The investigation also accepted that the program breached ABC editorial standards by not using the dump button or apologising for the slur during the program’s broadcast.

The program’s website has appended an editor’s note of the May 3 episode which states that “This podcast has been edited to remove an offensive comment.  ABC Regional apologise for this editorial lapse.”

AIJAC Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said the apology by Mr McNamara and the relevant ABC management was an important acknowledgement that “Australia’s premier national broadcaster will not tolerate antisemitism across its various and many outlets”.

Dr Rubenstein added, “Hate speech, even when made in casual conversation, should not be tolerated in a modern multicultural society. At a time when there is a resurgence in global and local antisemitism, including Nazi flags flying, vandals defacing posters with swastikas during election campaigns, Jews being blamed for the spread of coronavirus and even being accused of responsibility for police brutality against black people, it is important to acknowledge and act on antisemitism if and when it appears. The ABC has appropriately done so in this case and we are grateful to them for doing the right thing.”

For additional information, contact AIJAC on (03)-9681-6660.

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