Forward Thinking

Is Murdoch's Mess Bad for the Jews?

By Jane Eisner

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It was only a matter of time before someone would ask whether the international scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s empire was good for the Jews. And if you feel compelled to ask, the answer is almost always “no.”

JTA’s Ron Kampeas essentially posed the question in a story contending that some supporters of Israel are worried that a diminished Murdoch presence may mute the strongly pro-Israel voice of many of the publications he owns.

“His publications and media have proven to be fairer on the issue of Israel than the rest of the media,” Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is quoted as saying. “I hope that won’t be impacted.”

Well, I hope so, too, I guess. But that is hardly what should be on our minds as Jews and as citizens as we watch the media magnate testify before Parliament by dancing around any genuine personal responsibility for the despicable journalism practiced by one of his flagship newspapers. And as we read stories of government corruption in Britain reaching to the highest levels of law enforcement and into the storied halls of 10 Downing Street. And as we hear of real people, ordinary people, harmed by a corporate culture that privileged power and aggression over respect for privacy and common decency.

Britain is Israel’s ally, too, and its current government is being rocked to the core by this scandal. Is that good for the Jews?

In his day, Murdoch was celebrated by some of the big names in the Jewish communal world: American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League. There may have been legitimate institutional reasons to honor him (and his money) but it is becoming clear that his News Corporation has had a deleterious effect on journalism and government in Britain, and perhaps, beyond. We can’t possibly view this ongoing meltdown strictly through the prism of Israel.

“Is this curtains for pro-Israel Murdoch?” ran the headline in London’s Jewish Chronicle.

That’s the wrong question to ask.


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