Rupert Murdoch: European media hostility to Israel has anti-Semitic roots

May 18, 2008

* Egypt’s culture minister, tipped to be the next head of UNESCO, says he would burn Israeli books himself
* Gaza cancer patient who media blamed Israel for killing, miraculously returns to life
* British TV star’s mother-in law murdered by Hamas; press ignores it
* Military Intelligence chief: Rockets could hit Beersheba in 2 years



1. Murdoch: European media hostility to Israel has anti-Semitic roots
2. A lifelong friend of Israel
3. Murdoch “impressed with the Israeli spirit and resilience”
4. Bush receives wild applause and standing ovations in Israel
5. Blair: Hamas to blame for Gaza fuel shortages
6. Australian PM considering legal action against Ahmadinejad for inciting genocide
7. Egyptian culture minister: I would burn Israeli books myself
8. Fatah claims Hamas attacked “nakba” rally in Jabalya
9. “Dead Gaza cancer patient” alive and kicking
10. Multiple casualties as rocket hits Ashkelon shopping center
11. The BBC, incapable of telling the truth
12. British TV star’s mother-in law murdered by Hamas
13. MI chief: Rockets could hit Beersheba in 2 years
14. Qassam rocket strikes Sderot synagogue
15. Bomb explodes at Christian school in Gaza
16. The most serious terrorist bombing you haven’t read about this week

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


A “pretty strong degree of anti-Semitism” in Europe is at the root of the hostile coverage Israel receives in parts of the European media, media magnate Rupert Murdoch said on Thursday.

Murdoch, owner of broadcasting and print media in many continents, was in Israel as part of the state’s 60th birthday celebrations. He made the comments in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Murdoch added: “If you go to the BBC, the French press, places like that – they start as hostile, and it’s very difficult to overcome. But you’ve just got to press on and do what you can.”

Almost the only prominent media in the world that give Israel a fair hearing are those belonging to Murdoch: Fox TV, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, the British tabloid The Sun. Even Murdoch, however, has at times had to struggle to keep some blatantly anti-Israel coverage, occasionally bordering on the anti-Semitic, out of his European media, which includes the Sky News network and The Timesof London.

And the Fox News ticker tape refers to Palestinian terrorists who bomb Israeli towns as “militants,” while terrorists elsewhere in the world are referred to by it as terrorists.



As I have noted before on this list, Murdoch has been a lifelong friend of Israel. See, for example, the introduction to this dispatch: Hollywood stars blast Nasrallah, but Spielberg, Streisand and others remain silent (Aug. 20, 2006).

Less pro-Israel, perhaps, is his son and possible heir James Murdoch. This may have been an isolated incident, but James Murdoch apparently once referred to the “fucking Israelis” in a meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The revelation was made last year in book published by Blair’s top aide, Alastair Campbell, who was in the room with Blair and the Murdochs when the exchange took place.

The prime minister’s aide said James Murdoch’s outburst drew a rebuke from his father, who said “he didn’t think he should talk like that in the prime minister’s house.”

“James got very apologetic with [Blair], who said not to worry, I hear far worse [about Israel] all the time,” Campbell wrote.

James Murdoch heads News Corp.’s BSkyB satellite broadcasting division. In recent months James has also shown himself to be more understanding of Israel's security needs.



Rupert Murdoch was in Israel last week for Shimon Peres’s “Facing Tomorrow” presidential conference.

In a briefing that I attended in Jerusalem, Murdoch praised Israel for using its “human capital to make up for the lack of natural resources and help carve a modern society and a technological leader out of desert.”

To help maximize that Israeli human capital, he said he would join a task force that would explore setting up a new Jerusalem high school for technological excellence together with Mort Zuckerman, owner of the (rival) (New York) Daily News, and Leslie Wexner, owner of Victoria’s Secret and other clothing chains.

Murdoch, 77, also said he has spent two days before the conference “privately walking the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem” and had been very impressed with the Israeli spirit and resilience and the progress the country had made.

However, he noted, “Israel has this huge problem of hostile neighbors, financed and promoted by an Iran which has unlimited money and is led by Islamic extremism.”

“Islamic extremism is going to be around for a long time,” he added. “The greatest danger is if nuclear weapons were to fall into the hands of nongovernment extremists, who wouldn’t hesitate to put a bomb onto Tel Aviv or New York City. That’s by far the biggest danger to the world.”


Last time I praised Rupert Murdoch on this website, I received several anti-Semitic emails attacking him, also charging that he “is of Jewish descent.” For the record, he is not. As a young man in Australia he also went out of his way to help aboriginal victims of injustice long before it became fashionable to do so.


The enormous conference, masterly put together by Shimon Peres, was packed with interesting discussions from high profile speakers ranging from Mikhail Gorbachev to Vaclav Havel, to many Nobel prize winners, and the heads of Google, Yahoo, My Space and many other top companies. Yet it was largely ignored by the international media.



The full content of U.S. President George W. Bush’s speeches in Israel last week went largely unreported because Barack Obama and his supporters stole the media limelight by claiming that Bush was talking about Obama, even though not by name.

Bush made some important observations, especially in his speech to the Knesset. His words are all the more significant because Bush’s political career is almost over. He no longer needs campaign support, and in all likelihood he meant every word he said.

In his speeches in Israel, including the one I attended, Bush received several standing ovations.

Sounding like he did in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he told the Knesset that the fight against terror and extremism was “the defining challenge of our time.”


Bush said: “It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.

“... The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers.”

Regarding Israel, he said: “The Jewish people endured the agony of the pogroms, the tragedy of the Great War, and the horror of the Holocaust – what Elie Wiesel called ‘the kingdom of the night.’ ... Yet in spite of the violence, in defiance of the threats, Israel has built a thriving democracy...”


“Earlier today,” continued Bush, “I visited Masada, an inspiring monument to courage and sacrifice. At this historic site, Israeli soldiers swear an oath: ‘Masada shall never fall again.’ Citizens of Israel: Masada shall never fall again, and America will always stand with you.”

Israel, he said, has the right to protect itself and no one should force it to negotiate with those who wanted to destroy it. He criticized, without mentioning them by name, the Carters and Walts and Mearsheimers who say that if the U.S. would just break with Israel, all its problems would somehow disappear.

“This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly,” Bush said. “Israel’s population may be just over seven million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you.”



Also in Israel last week, former British Prime Minister and Quartet peace envoy Tony Blair implied, as I have done on many occasions this year, that the international media was falsely blaming Israel for the fuel shortages in Gaza.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, he said: “It is important to emphasize to the outside world – and most people don’t understand – that we’re trying to urge Israel to get fuel into Gaza, and then the extremists come and kill the people bringing the fuel in. It’s a crazy situation.”



Australia is considering taking Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for inciting genocide against Israel, Australia’s prime minister Kevin Rudd said.

“The Iranian president’s repeated extraordinary statements, which are anti-Semitic and expressing a determination to eliminate the state of Israel from the map, are appalling by any standards of current international relations,” he told Britain’s Sky News network last Thursday.

Rudd said Ahmadinejad’s repeated comments were “dangerous stuff.” “It’s not just hyperbole from the bully pulpit of Tehran, it’s the roll-on effect across the Islamic world, particularly those who listen to Iran for their guidance,” he warned.

Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland confirmed to The Australian newspaper that the government was seeking legal advice on taking Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice.



Israel has filed a complaint with the United Nations’ education, science and cultural organization (UNESCO) after Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni told the Egyptian Parliament last week that “I would burn Israeli books myself if found in Egyptian libraries.”

Hosni is a favorite to be appointed the next UNESCO secretary-general, and Israel says it would be a sad day for UNESCO if he gets the job.

Today, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is scheduled to leave for Sharm al-Sheikh in order to participate in a summit with U.S. President Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. She said she is likely to raise the issue in her discussions with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

Hosni also said he would oppose an initiative presented by the American Jewish Committee to establish a museum of Jewish antiquity and culture in Cairo. Jews had a long and rich history in Egypt until they were forced out following the creation of Israel.



Fatah claimed on Thursday that Hamas attacked a rally to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian “nakba” (the creation of Israel) in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that more than 30 participants in the rally were injured by gunshot wounds or as a result of being beaten with clubs.

Fatah’s spokesperson in the West Bank, Fahmi Za’arir, told the Palestinian-run Ma’an news agency that Hamas members assaulted the participants, specifically women. “This represents the continuation of the coup that Hamas staged in the Gaza Strip, and it came on a special day in which all Palestinian forces united to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Palestinian nakba,” he said.



Muhammad al-Harrani, a father of six from Gaza diagnosed with cancer who reportedly died while waiting for a permit to enter Israel, has miraculously come back to life.

On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, al-Harrani’s story was widely publicized in the international media after his family told the “Physicians for Human Rights” organization that he had died. (Physicians for Human Rights is one of many leftist Israeli NGOs constantly berating Israel to the international media.)

“The sick man could not withstand the wait for the permit,” Ran Yaron, Director of the Occupied Territories Department, was reported by western media as saying, adding that he blamed the Israeli government for adopting “cruel policies against cancer patients.”

But al-Harrani last week admitted that his family had deliberately lied, after he turned up for radiation and chemotherapy treatment at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.

When questioned by the Israeli tabloid Yediot Ahronot, Physicians for Human Rights admitted that they had been too quick to believe what they were told by Palestinian families without verifying the information from independent hospital sources.


[Readers of Israeli media will of course be familiar with the next two items; but since they were virtually ignored by the international media, I write about them here for those who do not know about them.]


Dozens of Israelis were injured on Wednesday evening, including a mother and her 2-year-old daughter who were seriously hurt, when a rocket fired from Gaza hit the crowded Hutzot Shopping Center in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon.

The rocket hit the third floor of the building, where offices and a medical center are located, and a large part of the shopping center was destroyed.

Several people were trapped in the rubble and rescue services worked frantically to free them from the debris. Fifteen people were badly injured and 87 people were treated for minor injuries and shock. The cafeteria of Barzilai Hospital in central Ashkelon was turned into a makeshift clinic because the hospital wasn’t big enough to tend to all the injured.

The attack came as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George W. Bush were meeting in Jerusalem.

The injured baby has now regained consciousness. She has undergone several operations to remove shrapnel from various places in her body, while doctors are waiting for her condition to stabilize further before they attempt to remove shards of shrapnel that pierced her head.

Uri Bar-Lev, the police commander of Israel’s southern district (and who is also a subscriber to this email list), said bomb experts had determined beyond any doubt that the rocket was of Iranian origin.



When the BBC finally mentioned the attack after hours of protests in the UK from pro-Israel individuals (including subscribers to this list) about why they had not reported it, they tagged it on to the end of a story about Palestinian suffering, using the following line: “A rocket reportedly fired from Gaza hit a shopping center in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, officials say.”

In fact, the rocket (1) was fired from Gaza (Hamas admitted this), not “reportedly,” and (2) Ashkelon was hit, not “officials say”. But it is many years since the BBC, the world’s largest news network, reported honestly on the Middle East.

Here are some photos of the attack, and here are some more. Hardly any of these kind of photos appeared in the mainstream international press.



This latest attack in Ashkelon comes at the end of a deadly week in southern Israel, in which two Israelis were killed and many injured in an ongoing barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells.

Last Wednesday, 69-year-old Shuli Katz, from Kibbutz Gevaram, was killed as she visited her sister-in-law in Moshav Yesha, only days after father-of-three Jimmy Kedoshim was killed as he tended to his garden in a neighboring kibbutz, Kfar Aza.

Shuli Katz, who was born and grew up on the kibbutz, worked for 35 years as a nurse. She left four children and five grandchildren.

Even though President Bush was about to arrive in Israel, and even though Katz was the mother-in-law of famed British TV comedian Paul Kaye, her death was barely mentioned in the international media.

Kaye said: “To think that the Palestinians were handing out sweets in Gaza after the attack, it’s sick. The idea of people celebrating Shuli’s death is just too awful. She was such a gentle and beautiful lady who loved helping people in her work as a nurse and you just can’t imagine her having such a violent end.”


The Israeli media and public has been reacting with fury against the Israeli government for its inaction following attacks from Gaza. Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s most popular daily, said in an editorial that “The Government has forgotten that it has a central mission: To safeguard the state’s citizens and not try to satisfy the Americans, Egyptians and Europeans.”



Israel’s Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin has told Ha’aretz that in two years time Hamas’ Iranian-supplied rockets would be capable of reaching Beersheba, one of Israel’s largest cities.

On the likelihood of agreeing on a lull (tahadiyeh) in the fighting with Hamas, with Egyptian mediation, Yadlin said that “the tahadiyeh, as agreed between [Egyptian intelligence chief] Omar Suleiman and Hamas perhaps solves the problem of terror from Gaza for the short term. But in the long term, it does not provide an answer to the ongoing smuggling or the Hamas buildup of a substantial arsenal.”



Three Qassam rockets were fired into the western Negev town of Sderot from the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening, one of which struck a synagogue, causing extensive damage to the building but no casualties. Several passersby were treated for shock.



Unknown assailants detonated a bomb outside a Christian school in Gaza City before dawn on Friday, the latest in a string of attacks on Christian institutions in Gaza. The powerful explosion was heard in surrounding neighborhoods at around 4 am. Damage was visible at the entrance to the Zahwa Rosary School, which is run by Catholic nuns but caters mainly to Muslim students.

Two nuns were in their convent adjacent to the school when the bomb went off, a school official said. The official declined to be named, saying she was frightened by the incident and concerned for her safety.

The school had been ransacked in June 2007, along with the nuns’ adjacent convent, during the week Hamas seized power in Gaza.

The bombing was the latest in a string of attacks on Christian institutions in the historically Jewish but now overwhelmingly Muslim territory. In one attack, a local Christian activist was murdered in October. His killers have not been found.

(For background on attacks on Christians by Muslims in Gaza and the West Bank, please see previous dispatches on this website.)



In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal Asia asks why the terrorist attacks that killed 61 people and wounded more than 200 in Jaipur, India, last Tuesday was barely reported upon. Was it, the paper wonders, because the perpetrators were Islamic Jihadists?

The paper notes: “Like other free nations, India is under severe and growing threat from Islamic jihadists, and has been for decades. New groups such as the Indian Mujahedeen, which yesterday claimed responsibility for the Jaipur attacks, appear regularly. More than 1,000 people died in India last year from terrorists attacks by Islamists and others. Only Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan suffered more casualties over the same period.

“... Jaipuris saw the face of terror this week. But as in New York, Bali, London, Madrid, Mumbai and elsewhere, the bombings in Jaipur represent an attack on the values democracies hold dear by those who would impose their fanaticism on all of us.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.