Rupert Murdoch. Reuters/Paul Hackett
The Joseph Kennedy portrayed in The Patriarch, David Nasaw’s magisterial new biography, didn’t dislike Jews per se. In fact, he rather admired the way they stuck together, looked out for their corporate interests and ultimately, in his view, trapped (or brainwashed) Franklin Roosevelt into allowing the United States to become embroiled in the fight against Nazi aggression. But he blamed “a number of Jewish writers and publishers” for trying to “precipitate a war with Germany.” While Jewish community leaders were desperately trying (and failing) to convince Roosevelt to intervene on behalf of the victims of Hitler’s repression (soon to be genocide), and to lobby other nations to do so, Kennedy—then ambassador to the Court of St. James’s—did everything in his power to frustrate these aims, believing that Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jews was unworthy of American attention.
One particularly disturbing aspect of the story Nasaw tells concerns the tendency of Jewish communal leaders—particularly the Zionist leaders—to fool themselves about Kennedy. Rabbi Stephen Wise, for instance, wrote his colleagues in New York that the new ambassador was “going to be very helpful, as he is keenly understanding” of the Jewish position on immigration and could be counted on to lobby Roosevelt in its favor.
Like Joseph Kennedy, Rupert Murdoch is a man of immense wealth and political influence, much admired in the Jewish professional community. Also like Kennedy, Murdoch sees a world in which Jews use their financial power on behalf of the Jews themselves. Or, more accurately, he thinks this is what they should do, and complains when they do not.
During the initial days of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, Murdoch tweeted, “Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?” Consistent with the Murdoch media ethos, he presented no evidence for either contention: that the US press was “Jewish owned” or that it was “consistently anti-Israel.” In fact, both contentions are ridiculous. The mainstream media are largely owned by multinational corporations. The most powerful single owner of media in the United States is Murdoch himself. Viacom, Disney, Comcast, Time Warner and Bertelsmann are not “Jewish owned.” Neither, though it may come as a surprise to Murdoch, is The New York Times. Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is neither Jewish by birth—according to traditional Jewish law—nor by choice. (He was raised Episcopalian, his mother’s faith.)
True, the percentage of Jews working in the MSM is high, as it is in the medical, legal, financial and entertainment fields. But most of the time, when someone insists that Jews use their power in these industries on behalf of so-called Jewish interests—much less bias their actions deliberately on behalf of another country—they are correctly deemed to be anti-Semites. Would Murdoch expect a Jewish president to act explicitly on the basis of what was “good for the Jews”? If so, maybe we should scotch that idea right now, since my landsmen do not represent even one-fiftieth of the country’s population.
It’s worth remembering that Murdoch’s employees at Fox News have been known to engage in some hateful Jewish stereotyping as well. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly once told a Jewish caller to “go to Israel” if he found himself offended by public Christmas displays. Glenn Beck, while a Fox employee, slandered George Soros as America’s “puppet master,” an old anti-Semitic canard, and even displayed the image of a Star of David while doing so.