Natan Zahavi
Natan Zahavi Flash90

Controversial radio host Natan Zahavi is in hot water again – this time for an explicitly racist comment directed at a caller of Middle Eastern origin. In an exchange of ethnic insults, Zahavi used a Hebrew pejorative generally associated with human excreta.

“What do a Jew from Iraq and a Jew from Algeria have in common,” Zahavi asked a caller who had phoned in to discuss racism in Israeli society. “Why do they say they are both 'Sephardim' [Jews of Middle Eastern origin - ed]?" 

“We are both North Africans," the caller asserted, "and the Ashkenazim [Jews of European extraction], have kept us back for 30 years."

“How did the Ashkenzim do this?” challenged Zahavi, adding, “I came to Israel from Europe at age 6. I saw that those who spoke Yiddish were sent to substandard neighborhoods, and the others were sent to different places,” he said, stressing that all Israelis suffered in the early days of the state.

When asked, the caller told the host that he had come to Israel in 1962, and at that point an all-out name-calling war broke out.

“What was here in 1962? My father worked drying out the swamps, caught malaria, did back-breaking work to build roads, and he half-starved – all this so that you could come to a country that was all prepared for new residents. Who are these Yiddish speakers – the people who worked for you?”

In response, the caller called Zahavi a “jerk,” with the host responding that the caller was a “crybaby.” The caller then called Zahavi the Hebrew equivalent of the term “whitey,” at which point the host compared what he assumed was the dark-skinned caller to human excreta.

Zahavi has not apologized for the remark. The Second Radio and Television Authority, which is responsible for regulating Radio 103FM, where Zahavi has a daily show, had no comment.

Zahavi is known for his acidic tongue, and has been upbraided by the Authority several times in the past for inappropriate comments.

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