I wasn’t expecting a great deal of intellectual nuance when I started to read Rupert Murdoch’s recent address to the ADL, so I wasn’t overly disappointed by the logical inconsistencies, or by his equating of criticism of Israeli policy with the waves of conventional and terrorist violence against Israel that have taken place over the past half-century. For all his overreaching, though, Murdoch did evince a fairly sophisticated understanding of the subtlety with which anti-semitic sentiment still permeates contemporary discourse. He pointed out the following recent remarks made by EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht:
There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews
or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.
Murdoch goes on to comment:
This minister did not suggest the problem was any specific Israeli policy. The problem, as he defined it, is the nature of the Jews. Adding to the absurdity, this man then responded to his critics this way: Anti-Semitism, he asserted, “has no place in today’s world and is fundamentally against our European values.”
Of course, he has kept his job.
Murdoch is entirely right to point out the poisonous nature of such statements, which project a stubborn unwillingness to reevaluate ideas onto an entire group of people, based just on their religion and ancestry. Clearly, non-Jews are never stubborn and never believe themselves to be right.
This principle doesn’t apply solely to anti-semitic discourse, though, and Murdoch oversees a corporate media empire that routinely gives platforms (and in some cases outright support) to some of the worst Islamophobic bigots out there. Most of these people still have their jobs too.