A popular Quebec journalist’s assertion that Jews’ political influence and economic power have historically provoked hatred have neither been retracted nor condemned outside the Jewish community, a disappointing reaction for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Both CIJA and B’nai Brith Canada denounced Gilles Proulx’s remarks as anti-Semitic. Proulx has been working in the Quebec media for half a century and is known for his provocative, sometimes outrageous, opinions.
The controversy began when with his Aug. 7 column in Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec commenting on the Gaza conflict, headlined “Le Hamas: Hydre de Lerne” (a reference to the multi-headed monster of Greek mythology.)
He wrote, “You don’t have to be an expert to say that Israel could make Washington, Paris or Ottawa bend, knowing that its well-established diaspora will make any government submit.”
The following day, in an interview on CHOI-FM (Radio X), where he is a commentator, Proulx reiterated that view, stating that Jews have the power to make “puppets” of governments.
He went further saying Jews have been hated and persecuted, such as during the Spanish Inquisition and under Hitler, because they take economic control of those countries in which they live.
“The diasporas are so powerful in Paris, New York, Toronto or in Ottawa or Montreal that they can manipulate the government through their opinions, their threats, their pressure, making it a puppet.”
In an Aug. 12 statement, CIJA deplored that the “radio hosts accepted these crudely anti-Semitic and fantastical opinions without rebuttal.”
Neither Proulx nor Radio X have commented further, even though the story was front-page news in the National Post on Aug. 14. They did not responded to the newspaper’s request for an interview, nor did the station answer an emailed inquiry from The CJN.
CIJA spokesperson Eta Yudin said the point in bringing Proulx’s remarks to wider public attention was “not to pick a fight with him personally,” but to say this and other openly anti-Semitic remarks in various media in Quebec, especially since the start of the Gaza conflict, are inappropriate and the media should recognize that.
Proulx’s remarks stand out as the most egregious, especially as he was a popular radio broadcaster for decades and today hosts a television series, Mémoire de Proulx, on Canal VOX.
As CIJA stated, “The Jewish community is disappointed and troubled that the Quebec media can communicate through their outlets such expressions of anti-Semitism with complete indifference and without calling the media outlets to account for their actions.
“The condemnation of anti-Semitism must not be the purview solely of the Jewish community.”
Yudin said CIJA has received a few messages from Quebecers identifying themselves as not Jewish who said they were offended by Proulx.
B’nai Brith said in its statement of Aug. 14: “Suggesting that Jews historically provoke hate and persecution and take economic control, and reference to provoking the hatred of Adolf Hitler cross the line of what should be acceptable by Quebec media.”
One Quebec journalist, Journal de Montréal blogger Lise Ravary, did take Proulx to task, calling his remarks “sulphurous.”
“Radio X let… Proulx say outrageous remarks, pure anti-Semitism, close to the opinions of [well-known Quebec writer] Victor Lévy-Beaulieu, probably the worst we have heard in Quebec since the beginning of the conflict…without calling him to order.”