“The Truth Has Many Faces” [Der emess hot a sach ponimer.] – Yiddish Proverb
Then again, perhaps it’s not a “Jewish” proverb. It may have come from Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, or heck, the House of Saudi.
It all depends upon where you look and who you ask these days. Because these days, in media, it’s “anything goes,” or perhaps more accurately, “anything that sells, goes” – in newspapers, TV, online, universities, and other hallowed bastions of “truth.”
“We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews” – Rupert Murdoch.
Any “truth” then, reported about media mogul Rupert Murdoch, founder, chairman and CEO of News Corp. (News Corporation), one of the most powerful people in the world who’s a stand-up Israel-defender, is going to be uncomfortable for any reporter vaguely interested in “truth.”
Love or hate Fox? The Wall Street Journal? The Times of London? The Simpsons? DirecTV? The film Titanic? They’re all Murdoch. I’ll bet my modem that your “loves” and “hates” won’t line up single file whether you’re a neo-con or a liberal. Through The Simpsons and BSkyB to Twentieth Century Fox and digital television, with a satellite system from Boston, to Blackpool, to Beijing, Murdoch’s estimated media empire would make Charles Foster Kane burn his sled himself.
And like the protagonist in Citizen Kane, the persistent, unanswered question is: “Who, really, is Keith Rupert Murdoch?” Especially when his story is told almost exclusively by others imbued with particular prejudices.
In the thick of many controversies is his vociferous support of Israel.
“My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews. ... Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battleground is everywhere: the media … multinational organizations … NGOs. In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah. ... Every day, the citizens of the Jewish homeland defend themselves against armies of terrorists whose maps spell out the goal they have in mind: a Middle East without Israel.” – Rupert Murdoch upon being honored by the ADL, October 12, 2010
Murdoch fashioned his speech around two critical points. “The disturbing new home that anti-Semitism has found in polite society – especially in Europe,” and how violence and extremism is encouraged, when “the world sees Israel’s greatest ally [ the U.S.] distancing herself from the Jewish state.”
Most rankling to him, and to his critics, was his statement: “Today it seems that the most virulent strains come from the left.”
Keith Rupert Murdoch was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, the son of Elisabeth Joy (née Greene) and Sir Keith Murdoch, a regional newspaper magnate who groomed his son early. Rupert has said: "My father left me with a clear sense that the media was something different." He received a platinum education at Oxford and supported the Labour Party. At age 22, following the death of his father, Murdoch returned to Australia to head up the family business. Beginning with one newspaper in Adelaide, Murdoch acquired and started other publications before expanding News Corp. into the U.K., U.S., and Asian markets. Murdoch's first permanent foray into TV was in the U.S. where he created Fox Broadcasting Company in 1986 (becoming a U.S. citizen, per relevant law). In the 2000s, he became a leading investor in satellite television, the film industry and the Internet. His acquisitions have included: The Sun (U.K. 1969) which he turned into a tabloid format – and gold; The Times and The Sunday Times (1981) and, in 1990, BskyB.
In the U.S. he purchased or holds significant shares in: the New York Post, 20th Century Fox, The Wall Street Journal, DirecTV, MySpace.com, IGN entertainment, and of course the Fox Broadcasting company.
In the 2010 Forbes's The World's Most Powerful People list, he was ranked 117th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $6.3 billion.
Straightforward, right? Wrong.
The questions remain:
Is Murdoch guilty of some hypocrisy? Perhaps.
Does Murdoch firmly support Israel? Yes.
Should they co-exist in a perfect universe?
They do. We may not like it. But unholy alliances in big business and media are de rigueur, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on.
There are no saints in this war of the words. And I doubt Murdoch himself would want that noble burden.
But the more salient question is, are Murdoch’s firmly pro-Israel pronouncements “good for the Jews?”
Common sense: The guy stands up for Israel!
"Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel."
While we don’t know what personally motivates him, we do know: 1. Despite allegations to the contrary, it’s not for the bucks. He doesn’t need them, and there are easier/faster ways to make them. 2. He’s pro-West. For Murdoch, whose politics and “bottom lines” depend upon democracy, the two are indistinguishable.
“In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. … Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel. – Rupert Murdoch, on receiving AJC National Human Relations Award, March 4, 2009
Common sense: The guy stands up for Israel at a time when that particular podium isn’t crowded with media and celebrity giants.
He’s got guts. Jewish publications, organizations and leaders have lauded him. Said Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League: “I have come to know the man, not his image. I learned that he cared deeply about the safety and security of Israel … that he was as distressed as I was about efforts to de-legitimize the Jewish state, to hold it to a double standard, and to seek its demise by some."
Common sense: The guy “gets” the problem of “intellectual” media dialectic on the Middle East.
It’s become increasingly “radical chic” for some intellectuals to define the Mid-East conflict as the rich, powerful, educated Jews versus the poor Palestinians.
Said Murdoch: “Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel. Back in 2002 the president of Harvard, Larry Summers, put it this way: ‘Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities…’”
At the heart of Murdoch’s words is the critical notion that intellectuals are creating a moral equivalence between the Palestinians and Israelis.
“For Hamas, the images of Palestinian suffering – of people losing their homes, of parents mourning their dead children, of tanks rolling through the streets –create sympathy for their cause.” – Rupert Murdoch
Without the framework of a larger moral compass, without asking “who’s the true slayer?” the result is not only incomplete, but the message skews to far more important fundamental untruths.
Is creating morally equivalence between the Palestinians and Israelis common sense?
Responsible reporting involves more than simply imparting individual facts “equally.” It calls for accuracy, analyzing these facts against motive in context, and drawing lines in the moral sand.
9-11 was odious!
As are attacks on U.S. bases as well as targets around the world ...
as are those who strap suicide bombs to children ...
as are cultures and governments who call for the annihilation of the U.S., Jews, and Israel.
“‘Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.’” – Rupert Murdoch
When academics and journalists with credibility become obsessed with reporting the “machinations” of Israel, and the U.S. Israel lobby, the result is an upswing in anti-Semitic tirades.
Says The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg: “Whenever one of these guys (referring to Phillip Weiss’s Mondoweiss, Glenn Greenwald’s blog on Salon, and Stephen Walt’s blog on ForeignPolicy.com, owned by The Washington Post Company) writes about me ... my inbox quickly fills with anti-Semitic invective. Whenever I see a subject line with something like ‘You fascist Zionazi,’ it’s pretty much assured the link in the email will lead back to a post from one of these guys.”
Are criticisms over Israeli policy the same as anti-Semitism? Not necessarily. But Murdoch is implying that by creating a moral equivalence, even those with good intent, are supplying the seed corn for anti-Semitism.
Is Rupert Murdoch, then, “good for the Jews?”
The free world makes a terrible mistake if we deceive ourselves into thinking this is not our fight. ... In the end, the Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace … who reject freedom … and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb, and the human shield. ... Against such an enemy, I will not second-guess the decisions of a free Israel defending her citizens. And I would ask all those who support peace and freedom to do the same.” – Rupert Murdoch, March 4, 2009
For his stand-up pro-Israel position, highly unusual among his peers, his bold insights into the “soft” media war, his stalwart statements that this soft war engenders and furthers anti-Semitic agendas, and his staunch belief that the fate of the U.S. and all free nations are inextricably tied to Israel’s survival, Rupert Murdoch is a Star of David. It’s just common sense.