J-AIR unreservedly apologises for broadcasting and podcasting comments that vilified the gay community in one of its regular programs.
The comments were made by Rabbi Mendel Kessin on the Tamar Yonah Show on Monday, 30 March 2020. Yonah hosts her own show on J-AIR’s sister station in Israel, Israel News Talk Radio (INTR), and Rabbi Kessin’s comment were originally aired on 24 March on the INTR program The Mystical Meaning of the Coronavirus with Rabbi Mendel Kessin. They were re-broadcast on J-AIR on 30 March.
J-AIR president George Banky said Rabbi Kessin’s views were totally unacceptable.
“J-AIR has initiated its complaints procedure in line with ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) and CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) requirements,” Dr Banky said.
“We have taken the podcast off line, and the complaints’ committee has started to review the show’s contents. The outcome of this process will be announced within 30 days, if not sooner. J-AIR is seeking an explanation from Tamar Yonah.
“J-AIR is very aware of its role as a community broadcaster and strictly adheres to the laws of this country, particularly the ones referring to broadcasting as mandated by ACMA.
Aleph Melbourne acknowledge that J-AIR are taking this matter seriously and responding appropriately, and look forward to seeing what further steps are put in place to ensure they do not broadcast content that vilifies LGBTIQ+ people again.
Jewish radio station J-AIR, dedicated to combating hate, broadcasts an interview that vilifies gay men.
On Monday March 30 2020 Melbourne’s Jewish radio station J-AIR 87.8FM broadcast their regular syndication of the Tamar Yonah Show, which included an interview with Rabbi Mendel Kessin.
The full episode of the March 30 Tamar Yonah Show was first posted here but has since been taken down. A backup copy of the podcast can be heard here.
The description of this episode of the Tamar Yonah Show states (in part):
Internationally known lecturer on current events and the Bible, Rabbi Mendel Kessin, joins Tamar Yonah and talks about the meaning behind this worldwide pandemic, what we are supposed to learn, and DO, in order to merit seeing the coming of the Messiah. He talks about the fear of death, atonement, suffering, and the world-wide economic collapse, and tells us how we can protect ourselves, as we enter into the Messianic era.
Aleph Melbourne has transcribed Rabbi Kessin’s interview commentary from time point 12:46 to time point 14:06:
And basically he’s 98% finished, that’s how close we are to the redemption. Therefore what god wants to do is bring the redemption. However, there are certain problems that must be addressed by god in order for the redemption to actually happen. And what we begin to see is that the pandemic is an exact designer drug, if you want to use that expression, that will remove these problems. Ah, in other words the plague itself is a vehicle, is an instrument, to accelerate the messianic process by removing these major problems. What are they? You see. So therefore what we see is the following. The first major problem is that man has corrupted his nature. There is a tremendous amount of, ah, what’s called immorality in the world today. It’s widespread. There’s, in Hebrew it’s called “prichus” (פְּרִיצוּת). We want, we could say it’s also in the form of homosexuality, and gays and so on and so forth, where all of a sudden the gender differentiation is, is tremendously blurred. So that is an incredible corruption of man’s nature.
Listen to the relevant audio here:
Rabbi Kessin is saying that his god is using the coronavirus pandemic to bring on the coming of the messiah by cleansing society of immorality caused in part by the scourge of homosexual sex between gay men.
This amounts to hate speech that vilifies gay (and also bisexual) men. It squarely lays blame for the coronavirus pandemic at the feet of sexually active gay men.
Broadcasting this language could be problematic for J-AIR as it may fall foul of at least the narrowcasting Codes of Practice, which states:
1.3 Narrowcasters will not broadcast programs which are likely to incite or perpetuate hatred against or vilify any person or group on the basis of ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, age, colour, physical or mental disability, transgender status or HIV/AIDS status…
Significantly for J-AIR, who are currently seeking a community broadcasting licence, this shocking lapse of editorial judgement reflects terribly on the integrity and good character of the station.
In Parliament on March 2 2020, Tim Wilson MP described J-AIR as “an outstanding broadcasting service …” that “… has begun working closely with the Community Security Group (CSG) to combat the rise of anti-Semitism and ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Victoria…”.
It’s entirely disappointing to see a radio station so dedicated to being both an outstanding broadcasting service and wanting to combat hate, find itself in a position where it is fuelling the fires of hate.
Next time J-AIR supporter Tim Wilson is mid-shtup he might want to take a moment to reflect on how he is, according to Rabbi Kessin, contributing to the kind of immorality that is causing the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time he might also want to reflect on how his praise for an “outstanding broadcasting service” dedicated to combating hate accurately describes a radio station that allows vilification of gay men like himself to go to air.
J-AIR must offer an unqualified and sincere apology, both on air and in writing, for this grave mistake and also provide air time for an in-depth interview covering the harms of intolerance of LGBTIQ+ people.
More importantly, while it still has a licence, J-AIR must comply with broadcasting standards, set the highest standard, and never again broadcast hate speech.
Anglicare Victoria, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand, Jewish Care Victoria, McAuley Community Services for Women, Sacred Heart Mission and Uniting Vic.Tas have today joined to voice their concerns about the latest draft of the Religious Discriminations Bill and its potential to allow people and organisations to use faith as a means to cause harm to clients, customers, staff and volunteers.
Although we come from different faiths, religions and cultures, we are united in our focus on community and social service.
We are proud of the work we do. We believe a divisive national conversation about whether people of faith should be able to discriminate against people of no, or different faiths, is not in the national interest. It is our view that religious freedom must be balanced against the rights of the people.
Religious organisations such as ours have demonstrated that it is possible to uphold the religious faith on which our work is founded – providing services to anyone who needs them – while at the same time respecting the diverse faith of our workforce, volunteers, clients and residents.
We are concerned that the legislation will have unintended consequences, where expressions of religious belief will be privileged above the rights and interests of other Australians in being free from discrimination.
The proposed Religious Discrimination Bill has the potential to create additional barriers for people in accessing medical services and housing, engaging in employment and participating in social and public life.
For people who are marginalised and experiencing social exclusion, and have a limited ability to self-advocate, this is likely to cause further harm and distress.
We do not support the Religious Discrimination Bill as it currently stands, as we do not believe it will benefit the Australian community.
We urge the Federal Government to legislate to protect religious freedom without removing protections from those who need it. Our laws should protect all of us, equally.
Quote attributable to CEO Anglicare Victoria, Paul McDonald
“As a faith-based organisation of significance, Anglicare Victoria rejects the current draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill because of the far reaching discrimination it now promotes.”
Quotes attributable to CEO Jewish Care Victoria, Bill Appleby
“As the CEO of an ethno-specific community service organisation, it fills me with an enormous sense of pride knowing that every day we have people from all corners of our global village providing much-needed supports and services to vulnerable people. We are committed to embracing the rich diversity of the community, and stand strongly against any law that allows individuals and groups to marginalise or diminish the value of others.”
“Jewish Care Victoria recognises that we, as a community, are at our strongest when we celebrate our differences and stand alongside each other, not when we exclude, discriminate, or isolate those that do not share our own lived experiences. Legislating the right to judge a person’s value based on their ability, religion, sexuality, gender expression, or marital status is not what civil societies are built upon.”
“We are humbled every single day with the opportunity to provide care and support to those that need it the most. Our staff do this inclusively, without judgment, and based only on the person’s needs – it is, in fact, the rich diversity within our organisation that allows us to meet such a wide range of needs. Whilst we firmly believe in the freedom of religion under law, we have equal belief in the law being equitable for all, and a person’s right to be free from those that seek to discriminate against them.”
Quotes attributable to CEO Sacred Heart Mission, Cathy Humphrey
“It is our view that the draft Religious Discrimination Bill will allow people and organisations to use faith as a means to cause harm, including excluding people from accessing essential services.”
“Sacred Heart Mission engages a diversity of people, staff and volunteers, to work across a wide range of services and in our opportunity shops. We do not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, disability, gender or sexual orientation. It is not our intention to do so, even in the event of a change in legislation.”
“Today we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that our services and workplaces are safe and welcoming for all people, regardless of their sexuality, gender orientation, marital status, ability or beliefs.”
Quote attributable to CEO Uniting Vic.Tas Bronwyn Pike
“There are no grounds on which religion can be a justification for saying or doing harmful things. This Bill goes too far and must be withdrawn.”
Quotes attributable to CEO Equality Australia, Anna Brown
“It is fantastic to see faith-based service providers playing an important leadership role in this campaign, calling for laws that protect all of us, equally.”
“The Government need to genuinely engage with the concerns raised, and draft a Bill that doesn’t give protections to one group of people at the expense of others.”
For more information or media enquiries, please contact:
A compilation of videos showcasing the “Jews of Pride” contingent at Pride March 2020.
The “Jews of Pride” contingent came to life again at the 25th Pride March, February 2, 2020.
Enjoy this compilation of clips taken from the day showcasing the diversity of Melbourne’s Jewish community, celebrating LGBTIQ+ people and our families.
Compilation: SKIF shows who can dance (0:22) Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC) (2:09) Queer South Asian dancers (2:17) The truck starts and a proud Jewish mum rushes out (2:25) Ute-cam: Music, meet contingent. Let the fun begin! (2:57) Quick dance routine in street (7:32) Street dancing and the contingent (7:37) SKIF & Habo dance (12:56) Rounding final corner out of Fitzroy Street (13:47)
Aleph Melbourne is a signatory to this statement because as an organisation that cares about the well-being of individuals and families, we understand that we must also care about our environment and all life on the planet if we wish to live safely and harmoniously.
MEDIA RELEASE FEBRUARY 3 2020 “Jews of Pride” huge success at 25th Pride March
Returning for the third year in a row, the award-winning Jews of Pride contingent brought song, dance and festivity to the streets of St Kilda, as part of the 25th annual Pride March, on Sunday February 2 2020.
Fielding it’s largest contingent ever, over 140 people came together representing ten organisations from the Jewish community proudly made their way along Fitzroy Street, to the tunes of traditional and Israeli music pumping from a brightly decorated sound truck, in support of LGBTIQ+ people and families.
Lead organisers Colin Krycer and Michael Barnett, having spent months planning the contingent, were overjoyed that a greater breadth of organisations from the Jewish community joined participated. First time attendees included the National Council of Jewish Women VIC headed up by President Miriam Bass, Zionist Federation of Australia headed up by CEO Ginette Searle, and Australian Jewish Democratic Society headed up by David Zyngier.
Contingent stalwarts included SKIF, Habonim Dror, Temple Beth Israel, Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria, Aleph Melbourne and Keshet Australia.
Jewish Care, returning for their second year, added two brightly decorated minibuses to the contingent, allowing an inclusive opportunity for those who could not walk along the parade route.
The weather was magnificent, breaking the trend of searingly hot days in recent years, and escaping flooding downpours the day prior, with blue skies and warmth adding to the joy of the event. Onlookers were thrilled with the Jews of Pride, many offering Mazal Tovs and L’chaims.
Although there has been a strong Jewish presence in Pride March for all of its 25 year history, this year’s Jews of Pride contingent saw more community leaders, community organisations, families and supporters standing up for the inclusion, celebration, acceptance, visibility and respect of same-sex attracted, trans and gender diverse, and intersex people, and rainbow families.
Jews of Pride will return in 2021, bigger, better and more beautifully Jewish.
Further comment available: Michael Barnett firstname.lastname@example.org 0417-595-541 Pronouns: he/him/his Colin Krycer email@example.com 0411-441-691 Pronouns: he/him/his
This year, after months of planning, Jews of Pride returns with renewed enthusiasm, a fantastic fresh look, a bigger sound system and refreshed playlist, and our largest ever number of groups from the Jewish community. Participating organisations include:
Australian Jewish Democratic Society
Jewish Care Victoria
Jewish Lesbian Group of Victoria
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic)
Temple Beth Israel
Zionist Federation of Australia
We invite the entire Jewish community to join Jews of Pride and celebrate Jewish trans and gender diverse, intersex, same-sex attracted people, rainbow families and allies, in the most fabulous, dynamic and festive contingent, as we pump out upbeat music and dance our way along Fitzroy Street.
Be part of the fun and meet us at the marshalling area, corner of Lakeside Drive and Fitzroy Street between 10 and 10:30 am for the 11am march start. Jews of Pride is in Wave G, position 16.