Home category TIMELINE: A HISTORY OF STÉPHANE GENDRON’S OFFENSIVE COMMENTS AGAINST JEWS AND THE STATE OF ISRAEL

TIMELINE: A HISTORY OF STÉPHANE GENDRON’S OFFENSIVE COMMENTS AGAINST JEWS AND THE STATE OF ISRAEL

by Mike Fegelman

Dating as far back as 2006, read a comprehensive history of Gendron’s hateful invective and how this recent controversy came to a fore and how it culminated:

August 2006: In an interview with Le Soleil, Stéphane Gendron referred to Israelis as modern-day Nazis (“Les Israéliens, ce sont les nazis des temps modernes”). He later claimed he was referring to the current government of Israel and that the analogy was fitting. Despite being condemned for his comments, he refused to issue a retraction or apology. At the time, B’nai Brith Canada described his statements as being inherently racist, calling his comparisons “beyond the pale” and a “grotesque distortion of history.”

January 12, 2009: Gendron criticized the Harper government for its support of Israel during the 2008-9 Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza. In a letter posted on his blog, Gendron accused Israel of committing “genocide” and described Israeli government officials as “criminals”.

June 1, 2010: In the wake of Israel’s interdiction of the Gaza-bound flotilla, an effort to enforce a legal maritime blockade to prevent the smuggling of deadly weapons to the Hamas terrorist regime, Gendron authored a column published in the Journal de Montreal on June 1 where he spuriously compared the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto.

June 10, 2010: HonestReporting Canada secured op-ed space in Le Journal de Montreal to respond to Gendron’s scandalous accusations which exploited the Holocaust through contemptible comparisons between the Nazis and the Jewish state.

September 2011: Debut of V Télé’s new morning talk show Face à Face with Stéphane Gendron and Caroline Proulx.

September 23, 2011: On Face à Face, Gendron claims: “It is not because you are an Israeli that you have a monopoly on the truth. There are even orthodox Jews that are against Israel….Before 1948, that is, before the Jews stole the land from the Palestinians, you see it’s the Jews that invented terrorism, not the Arabs, who blew up buses, it’s Jews that blew up the King David Hotel at the time when they blew up the hotel to claim the land. So the Orthodox Jews don’t want Israel, it’s against their principles because they were well-treated at the time”.

Fall 2011: Gendron promotes French anti-Semite Dieudonné’s mocking of the Holocaust, and presents Jews as being contemptuous of non-Jews, “an inferior “ in his own words.

November 2, 2011: Gendron tells his viewers on his morning show Face a Face that “in revenge for the admission of Palestine to UNESCO, they (Israel) decided to build 2000 homes in areas that do not belong to them, the occupied territories, so they are going to bulldoze people, kill people, they will give them 5 minutes to get out and then they’ll run people down with bulldozers. And Canada supports this.”

November 4, 2011: HonestReporting Canada issues an alert asking its members to send letters of complaint to V Télé after Gendron shockingly claimed that Israel indiscriminately murders innocent Palestinians with bulldozers to seize land. Close to 200 people sent letters to V Télé and our Youtube video of Gendron’s comments was viewed over 25,000 times.

November 5, 2011: National Post issued editorial entitled “Bulldozing the facts” taking Gendron to task for his offensive commentary while commending HonestReporting Canada for its continued efforts.

November 9, 2011: HonestReporting Canada lodges a complaint with the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC) regarding Gendron’s November 2 claims which constituted a “vicious libel” against Israel according to the National Post.

November 11, 2011: V Television says it’s not responsible for the virulently anti-Israel opinions expressed by Gendron, but it did express regret for any offence taken. Instead, the network merely reiterated the need for its staff to abide by the Canadian Broadcast Standard Council’s code.

December 23, 2011: The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) asked for a meeting with V Television because of Gendron’s repeated expressions of “animosity and prejudice with regard to the Jewish community.”

December 27, 2011: On Face à Face, Gendron declares: “Unfortunately, Israel has not yet collapsed but I support the boycott, and Amir Khadr had the courage to do so because products made in Israel on land stolen from the Palestinians that is walled in, in an apartheid regime where they are cut off, it’s very serious. And a country like that does not deserve to exist. Bravo, Amir Khadr.”

December 29, 2011: HonestReporting Canada exposes Gendron’s repugnant comments stating that Israel doesn’t deserve to exist by issuing an action alert that went viral and which also was disseminated by HonestReporting.com asking subscribers to send letters of complaint to V Télé. Our YouTube video of Gendron’s comments have been viewed over 12,500 times.

January 4, 2012: Simon Wiesenthal Center urges V Télé to “pull the plug” on Gendron for stating that Israel does not “deserve to exist”.

January 5, 2012: National Post produces a front-page report entitled: “Israel ‘does not deserve to exist’: Quebec TV host”. Gendron defends his comments to the Post saying: “’I am defending a state with both Palestine and Israel living together,’ he wrote in an e-mail. ‘I may be naive, but this is my position. Israel as it is today is not my cup of tea.’ and ‘People try to portray myself as an anti-Semite. This is false and ridiculous,’ and that ‘I have the right to express publicly my position,’ he said. ‘What they ask is a violation of fundamental rights.’ V Network confirms that ‘We do have concerns and that’s why will be meeting with the production team.’” V Network tells the Canadian Jewish News that “While V does not think it is responsible for everything it broadcasts … management will insist from now on that ‘when an issue is discussed, both sides are presented.’”

January 6, 2012: CBC TV and CBC Radio interview HonestReporting Canada Quebec-Region Director Michelle Whiteman about Gendron’s offensive commentary. A Radio-Canada radio report mentions HonestReporting Canada’s efforts. Subsequent news coverage featured on CTV, CBC.ca, Forward, Canadian Jewish News, Jewish Independent, CJAD.

January 9, 2012: National Post produces editorial entitled: “Gendron’s freedom to be hateful” deriding Gendron’s comments lamenting Israel existence stating that “What’s far more disappointing is that the French-language media continues to provide Mr. Gendron with a platform to air his offensive views despite his history.”

January 22, 2012: JSS News publishes a joint op-ed signed by HonestReporting Canada Executive Director Mike Fegelman and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Associate Director for Public Affairs (Québec) David Ouellette entitled:“V-télé doit assumer ses responsabilités face au dénigrement des Juifs sur ses ondes”

January 26, 2012: In an open letter to V-Télé CEO Maxime Rémillard, HRC and the Centre jointly call on V Television to assume its broadcasting responsibilities by promptly dealing with its Face à Face talk show host, Stéphane Gendron’s repeated hateful and discriminatory comments about Jews and the state of Israel. The Jewish Defense League (JDL) and Les Amis québécois d’Israël picket in front of Gendron’s office in Huntington Quebec calling for his resignation from his mayoral office in the wake of his offensive commentary against Israel. Subsequent news coverage featured in Canadian Press, Globe and Mail, Barry Morgan Show on CJAD, TVA, Huffington Post, CTV.ca, Cyberpresse and La Nouvelles.

January 26, 2012: Gendron issued the following press statement as reported by Global Montreal: “It is important to make the distinction between the government and the individuals who make up the population.” Gendron also issued the following statement to CTV Montreal: “It’s sad to see certain groups distort comments concerning the way in which Israel behaves vis a vis the Palestinians into anti-Semitic comments.”

January 27, 2012: Reading from a prepared statement, Gendron made an on-air statement of regret on his Face à Face talk show in an attempt to atone for his past discriminatory comments against Jews and Israel:

“Dear Friends,

I have at times broached the subject of the Israel government’s policies. My views have elicited reaction from groups who support Israel. These groups have an inalienable right of freedom of expression that is so valued in Canada and Quebec. Some have interpreted my remark as anti-Semitic. I would like to clarify my remarks so as to eliminate all ambiguity.

Firstly, the Holocaust was an unjustifiable and inexplicable tragedy that one must never trivialize. Second, concerning Israel’s right to exist, my position has always been clear: Yes, the Jews have a right to self-determination as well as the right to a State.

For my part, I have always been in favour of peaceful cohabitation of peoples. That said, as an engaged citizen, I have the right to denounce the manner in which Israel conducts its policies with the regard to the Palestinians. I do not believe that denouncing the abuses of the Israel government is anti-Semitism. No one can deny my right to dream that one day Palestinians and Israelis will live together side by side in peace and security. This was my thinking which, unfortunately, could not be fully expressed in the restricted time frame of this morning show. I am sorry to those I may have offended. This chapter is now closed.”

January 27, 2012: HonestReporting Canada, V Network, and the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs issue the following joint statement regarding Gendron’s comments:

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Montreal, January 27, 2012 – V Network reiterates today that the network dissociates itself from the unfortunate comments made by talk show host Stéphane Gendron about Jews and the state of Israel.  V Network would like to reassure the public that these types of comments will no longer be tolerated on its airwaves.  Furthermore, Mr. Gendron made a statement on air today expressing regret for his previous comments.

To that effect, the administration of V Network will shortly be meeting with representatives of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and HonestReporting Canada.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and HonestReporting Canada appreciate the commitment of V Network to respect the ethical broadcasting standards and take note of Stéphane Gendron’s statement today.  The two organizations look forward to meeting with the administration of V Network, which will also be an opportunity to address the important distinction between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and the delegitimization of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

January 27- February 8, 2012: Subsequent news coverage about Gendron’s apology appear on CTV Montreal, CBC.ca, Canadian Press, CTV, CJAD, Cyberpresse (see here and here), Prince Arthur Herald, Forward, Jewish Telegraph Agency, JWeekly, Chronicle Herald, Jerusalem Post, Canadian Jewish News, Journal Saint-Francois.

February 1, 2012: HonestReporting Canada (HRC) and CIJA (The Centre) representatives meet with V Télé management in Montreal to discuss Gendron’s offensive comments and the important distinction between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and the delegitimization of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

February 2, 2012: HRC and The Centre express satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with V Network. In a joint release, both organizations note the positive and very constructive discussions held at the meeting and recognize V-Network’s determination to ensure that its airwaves are not used as a platform for discriminatory statements.

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