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The Murdochs and the Middle East

11 December 2007

10:24 AM

11 December 2007

10:24 AM

Rupert Murdoch is such a hard-right supporter of Israel — Ariel Sharon was his great hero (he even visited him on his farm) — that many regard him as a Zionist. So the staunchly pro-Israel Wall Street Journal has nothing to fear on that front as the Murdoch tentacles get to grips with it.

The same might not be true for Murdoch’s London titles — The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and News of the World — all strongly pro-Israel under the guidance of Murdoch’s heavy hand. But that might be about to change for these newspapers are all now under the control of Murdoch’s son, James, who has pronounced pro-Palestinian views which he holds strongly.


Consider the following, from Alastair Campbell’s Diaries, which most commentators seem to have missed.  At a private dinner with his father, his brother (Lachlan), Tony Blair, and others at 10 Downing Street in January 2002, James, according to Campbell, launched into a foul-mouthed tirade against his father’s unstinting support for Israel.

The elder Murdoch, writes Campbell, "was at one point putting the traditional very right-wing view on Israel and the Middle East peace process and James said that he was ‘talking f****** nonsense.’ 

"[Rupert] Murdoch said he didn’t see what the Palestinians’ problem was and James said that it was that they were kicked out of their f****** homes and had nowhere to f****** live’ " records Campbell.A contrite James then apologised for swearing at the Prime Minister’s dinner table — but he did not resile from the sentiments of his pro-Palestinian outburst. 

It would be quite a shift if the Murdoch papers became pro-Palestinian — and a matter for grave concern among the pro-Israeli lobby. But maybe there’s a crumb of comfort: the new editor of The Times, James Harding, is Jewish. Even so, the days of Murdoch’s London papers’ slavish support for Israel would seem to be over.


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