AIJAC files complaint to ABC over radio talkback slur

Media Release


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council has registered a complaint to the ABC following the airing of a slur against Jews by a radio talkback caller on the May 3 broadcast of “Australia All Over”.

The talkback caller to the program identified herself as “Jean Cook” from a town in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.  During her call, Cook complained about someone buying out a factory she managed, referring to the buyer as a “big Jew”.

The caller said, “Over 30 years ago, I managed the Exacto Factory that was specially built in Churchill, because we were doing such a good job. Now, Exacto was part of the Bradmill Industries and they had jeans, they even made the fabric for jeans, windcheaters, T-shirts we made. And it 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 program’s host Mr Ian McNamara simply ignored Ms Cook’s derogatory comment as though it was unexceptional.

AIJAC pointed out:

“Ms Cook invoked an antisemitic trope of a rapacious and heartless Jewish businessman who rides roughshod over the lives of ordinary, hardworking people in an insatiable quest to make money… By allowing Ms Cook’s comment to go through to the keeper, Mr McNamara, whose reputation is of a trusted figure of authority given his many years on radio, ran the risk of inadvertently seeming to legitimise antisemitism and casual racism to his audience.”

In the complaint, AIJAC requested the ABC take corrective action, including:

  • Mr McNamara and the program’s producer should receive appropriate counselling and training on the use of the dump button and what is expected of ABC staff.
  • A genuine on-air apology by Mr McNamara on behalf of himself and the ABC – which eschews the avoidant formulation of words “we apologise if anyone was offended”.
  • The episode on the program’s website for May 03 be edited to remove the slur and an editor’s note included with a statement of apology.
For additional information, contact AIJAC on (03- 9681-6660).