Ron Kampeas reports:
Pro-Israel leaders in the United States, Britain and Australia are warily watching the unfolding of the phone-hacking scandal that is threatening to engulf the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp.
Murdoch’s sudden massive reversal of fortune — with 10 top former staffers and executives under arrest in Britain for hacking into the phones of public figures and a murdered schoolgirl, and paying off the police and journalists — has supporters of Israel 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,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “I hope that won’t be impacted.”
Murdoch’s huge stable encompasses broadsheets such as The Wall Street Journal, the Times of London and The Australian, as well as tabloids, most notably The Sun in Britain and the New York Post. It also includes the influential Fox News Channel in the United States and a 39 percent stake in British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster. Murdoch founded the neoconservative flagship The Weekly Standard in 1995, and sold it last year.
Jewish leaders said that Murdoch’s view of Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians and with its Arab neighbors seemed both knowledgeable and sensitive to the Jewish state’s self-perception as beleaguered and isolated.
“My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews,” Murdoch said last October at an Anti-Defamation League dinner in his honor. “When Americans think of anti-Semitism, we tend to think of the vulgar caricatures and attacks of the first part of the 20th century. Now it seems that the most virulent strains come from the left. Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel.”
Murdoch, 80, has visited Israel multiple times and met with many of its leaders. In 2009 he was honored by the American Jewish Committee.
“In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States,” he said at the AJC event. “Tonight I say to you, maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel. “
Leaders of a number of pro-Israel groups declined to comment for this story because of Murdoch’s current difficulties.