Rupert Murdoch has warned that Israel’s legitimacy and security are under attack from opponents of “freedom, tolerance and democracy” around the world.
Speaking after receiving the National Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee last week, the News Corporation chairman said that European public debate had been “poisoned by an antisemitism we thought had been dispatched to history’s dustbin”.
Warning of further threats from Iran’s nuclear programme and international terrorism, such as the attacks on the Mumbai Chabad centre, he told an audience in New York of “a growing assault” on the legitimacy and security of Israel.
“This assault comes from people who make clear they have no intention of ever living side-by-side in peace with a Jewish state — no matter how many concessions Israel might make,” he said. “The reason for this is also clear: these are men who cannot abide the idea of freedom, tolerance and democracy. They hate Israel for the same reasons they hate us.”
Mr Murdoch, whose networks include Fox and Sky News, was honoured by the AJC for both his professional and philanthropic achievements.
The Australian-born 77-year-old tycoon defended Israel’s recent operations in Gaza, arguing that “no sovereign nation can sit by while its civilian population is attacked”.
Although acknowledging that Israel had stronger conventional capabilities, he argued that Hamas knew they did not need to defeat Israel militarily to win the war in Gaza.
“If you are committed to Israel’s destruction,” he continued, “and if you believe that dead Palestinians help you score a propaganda victory, you do things like launch rockets from a Palestinian schoolyard. This ensures that when the Israelis do respond, it will likely lead to the death of an innocent Palestinian — no matter how many precautions Israeli soldiers take.”
He argued that the western world had to stand with Israel: “We are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States... Maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel.”
Calling for practical measures, such as the admittance of Israel into Nato, he emphasised: “The Israeli people are fighting the same enemy we are: cold-blooded killers who reject peace, who reject freedom, and who rule by the suicide vest, the car bomb and the human shield... I will not second-guess the decisions of a free Israel defending her citizens. And I would ask all those who support peace and freedom to do the same.”