On a Los Angeles FM radio talk show, the following aired recently:Not surprisingly, one of the other shows hosted on KPFK is "Democracy Now!"
A caller identifying himself as Mohammed said, “I believe that so-called Israel should be annihilated totally, wiped off the map ... I hope that Iran has the gall to nuke and exterminate them so they go back to Europe.
“And as long as there is one Palestinian man, woman or child, there will be no peace in Palestine ... as far as I’m concerned, so-called Israel should be exterminated from the face of the earth. That’s my personal opinion. They have no right to exist….”
Augustin Cebada, the show’s host, did not interrupt or argue. He let Mohammed finish, then said, “OK, maybe those are your opinions, and there’s probably a lot of people out there who agree with you. We have free speech in this country….”
Cebada later took a call from Dan, who objected to what he’d just heard: “When a caller calls with that kind of hatred, that kind of Nazi rhetoric, that Israel should be wiped off the map, that’s what fuels the fire, and you people did not respond by saying, ‘This is the kind of hatred we don’t need.’ And that’s what’s fueling the hatred, isn’t it?”
This time, Cebada cut the caller off, saying: “There’s a lot of hatred in your voice, Dan, in your tone. This program offers a forum so people can express what they’re feeling….”
KPFK, Pacifica Foundation’s longtime, Progressive, listener-supported L.A. radio station, aired that exchange on Jan. 7, 2009, on a Wednesday night bilingual talk-show called, “La Causa” (“The Cause”), which has a mix of English and Spanish.
Though it presents itself as a program by and for Latinos, “La Causa” spends a lot of time on the subject of the Middle East, all of it fiercely critical of Israel. Referring to the recent military actions in Gaza, the show’s hosts characterize Israelis as perpetrators of “genocide,” “massacre,” “slaughter,” “war crimes,” “ethnic cleansing” and “atrocities.”
Cebada and Tlaloc have said Israelis are “acting like Nazis.”
When referring to Israel, Cebada usually calls it “that semitheocracy, so-called democracy.” He tells his listeners that Arab citizens of Israel can’t vote. (They can and do: More than 50 percent voted in the recent Israeli election.) He says that only Jews can enter the Israeli Defense Forces. (There are non-Jews in the IDF.)
The show’s hosts would likely argue, as many do these days, that being against Israel is not the same as being against Jews. Others would counter that anti-Zionism, in its current form, is a socially acceptable cover for anti-Semitism. Whatever one’s view, the hosts of “La Causa” blur this distinction.
They use Zionist, Jewish, Israeli and even Ashkenazi interchangeably, as when they say, “The Israeli people, the Jewish people” or mention the relationship between Villaraigosa and “the Zionists,” when the reference is clearly to Jews in Los Angeles.
At times, “La Causa’s” hosts talk about Jews in disparaging ways when discussing situations that have no connection to Israel.
On Feb. 4, Cebada said, “Well, supposedly Jewish interests control the media in this country, there’s even a book written by a Jew that says that Jews control Hollywood ... the media’s controlled by Jews, so we only get the news they want us to hear.”
The hosts regularly call Bernard Madoff “that Jewish scam artist.” Villaraigosa is constantly excoriated for supporting Israel and for “dancing around with a yarmulke on his head,” apparently referring to the September 2007 Chabad telethon, when L.A.’s mayor danced the hora while wearing a kippah.
On Feb. 4, a caller named Jeremy asked the hosts why they “keep repeating this line about Villaraigosa dancing around with a yarmulke on his head? Why is that a cause of consternation for you?”
Tlaloc answered that Villaraigosa was elected “on the backs of Mexicans and hasn’t done anything to help them. Instead, he’s gone to Israel and is complicit in the genocide that’s happening in Gaza.” Jeremy again asked why the yarmulke bothered them so much, and Cebada abruptly ended the phone conversation.
KPFK does not get money from advertising. It receives some funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which is partially supported with government funds, and from its listeners, as well as foundations. It normally has three fund drives each year.
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