Is this curtains for pro-Israel Murdoch?

By Robin Shepherd, July 14, 2011
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The scandal surrounding News International is unfolding so fast that one hesitates to make predictions. At the time of writing, the News of the World had gone, but the other papers in Rupert Murdoch's stable - The Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun - were still very much alive.

Nonetheless, the astounding rapidity with which a 168 year old profit-making venture like the News of the World was closed has given employees at his other titles an understandable bout of the jitters, especially at the loss-making Times.

Anyone following the way Israel is portrayed here in Britain will be concerned. Murdoch's publications (from time to time, at least) provide rare counter blasts against the prevailing winds of anti-Israeli hostility. His commitment to Israel is resolute. In a speech last year to the Anti-Defamation League he spoke of "the disturbing new home that antisemitism has found in polite society - especially in Europe", and of "an ongoing war against the Jews".

As long as Rupert is at the helm, The Times, the Sunday Times and the Sun are safe from the anti-Zionist consensus.

But what if he drops them?

It would matter a lot less than had it happened a decade ago. For one thing, The Times and Sunday Times have gone behind pay walls meaning that in the all important social media domains such as Twitter and Facebook they are largely absent from the battlefield of ideas.

For another, related, reason the newspaper industry is in any case dying. Newspapers are simply not as important as they used to be.

With the exception of highly successful niche products (such as the JC) newspapers are being rapidly replaced by online platforms which, at a fraction of the cost, can mount a serious challenge to the traditional media, and even outstrip their influence.

If Murdoch sells up shop, it would be a blow to Israel's fortunes.

But it would also provide a timely reminder that the battle of ideas is now being fought in an entirely new place.

Robin Shepherd is owner/publisher of The Commentator http://www.thecommentator.com/ the new online news and comment service.

Last updated: 1:54pm, July 14 2011