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A New Low For Rupert Murdoch

by Joe Shea,
American Reporter Editor-in-Chief

When he published the Sunday Times last week, Rupert Murdoch made a fatal mistake
(AR) HOLLYWOOD -- A story that ran in the November 15th Sunday Times in London charges that Israeli scientists are hard at work on a biological warfare weapon that would target Arabs based on a supposed difference in their genetic structure. We believe the story is false and that it is a deliberate provocation aimed at inflaming Arab-Israeli hatred. We also believe it is extremely dangerous.

The story, by Uzi Mahnaimi and Marie Colvin, says "Israel is working on a biological weapon that would harm Arabs but not Jews, according to Israeli military and western intelligence sources. The weapon, targeting victims by ethnic origin, is seen as Israel's response to Iraq's threat of chemical and biological attacks."

The front page headline reads, "Israel planning 'ethnic' bomb as Saddam caves in' -- so it is both a report on the Iraqi about-face concerning inspections and a purported investigative article on new biological weapons being readied against Arabs. The sources for the story are not named; instead, they are merely "a scientist there" at the "biological institute in Nes Tziyona, the main research facility for Israel's clandestine arsenal of chemical and biological weapons. "

All the rest is old news from the 1980's and guesstimates by "senior Western intelligence" sources and the like.

The harm such a story can do is incalculable. Although the Sunday Times long ago became a laughingstock when it was converted from a serious newspaper to a sensational rag by Rupert Murdoch, its handsome name is resonant with authority, as is its heraldic logo suggestng the monarchy and royal imprimatur. It is as though the Sunday edition of The New York Times was spun off and then sold, and bought and edited by the National Enquirer while retaining the typography and look of the Times.

Throughout the Arabic world today, based on a story that has just one source as to its central information, millions of Arabs are already cursing Israel and its people once again -- all too ready to believe the worst of the Netanyahu government and the Jewish people. What was the motive for this kind of senseless provocation, particularly since it will soon backfire in Rupert Murdoch's face?

First of all, it's important to understand that the Sunday Times -- which has a 47 percent share of the market for Sunday newspapers in Britain -- and The Times, as it's named, are worlds apart journalistically, even though both are owned by Murdoch, who controls The Sun, another racy tabloid, and News of The World, which is akin to the American supermarket tabloid called the Globe. Together, these four newspapers sell about 35 percent of all the newspapers sold in Britain on any given day; Murdoch controls them all. The Sun has a circulation of 10 million, and the News of World 4.5 million.

Murdoch owns 22 television stations in the U.S. with 40.3 percent of the U.S. viewing audience -- exceeding the allowed FCC market share by 6 percent (although it is just 34.8 percent under FCC regulations) by its own admission (see the company's annual report on its U.S. operations) -- and owns and operates stations in nine of the top 10 markets and many others.

Murdoch controls Sky Broadcasting, too, which beams much of the news Europe receives via television, and in the U.S. owns 20th Century Fox, which made two of the three top-grossing films of all time; he owns 120 newspapers in Australia, and reaches 70 percent of the newspaper audience in the country every week. And those arer just two countries; this is a worldwide phenomenon, as evil as any many-headed Hydra the Argonauts ever fought.

"Headless Body In Topless Bar" -- a headline you probably recall from the New York Post -- is not a metaphor for News Corp., the holding company for all of these properties. Murdoch is deeply involved in editorial decisions at all of his newspapers, and makes no bones about it. The shots are called not by the men and women who gather the news and edit it, but by the people who surround it with ads and sell it.

When he published the Sunday Times last week, Rupert Murdoch made a fatal mistake. He told a lie about Israel that is dangerous enough to precipitate an attack against it by any one of its enemies, should their populations become worked up enough. He made certain to juxtapose the biological weapons of Iraq with the supposed biological weapons of Israel, and then traced their development to the apartheid regime of South Africa to enlist black people in his slander. We suspect he elevated himself to the top of the Mossad's most-watched list and earned the enmity of people everywhere who support the existence of Israel. He became an enemy of the state.

But even knowing that Murdoch will suffer for his lies, and that the story is untrue, is not enough. The story justifies every radical Islamic fundamentalist who ever wanted to attack Israel or its strongest ally, the United States. We can expect a biological weapons attack against the United States that is fundamentally the result of Rupert Murdoch's utter irresponsibility.

In publishing such lies, Murdoch also betrayed the United States, which has offered him citizenship and billions of dollars from the operation of his entertainment junkyards here. We have allowed him to corrupt the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to destroy the reputation of the oldest newspaper in America (the Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton), and to fill our lives with an unrelenting stream of televised violence, sex and stupidity. We hope those who are Americans in spirit as well as name will reject him and all he and his corporations stand for.

If you noted that Yasser Arafat, who last week appealed to Israel for Palestinian statehood on the basis of "peace and love," and then said two days later that he was calling on his people to have rifles at the ready, has changed his tune, imagine that multiplied a millionfold by the article in the Sunday Times. That is the work of Rupert Murdoch, and he should bear its consequences.

[Editor's note: Israel's Defense Ministry Monday denounced the report as a "blood libel" as a spokesman for the ministry told The American Reporter that the paper's front-page headline about the supposed research has never taken place.

Israel's research in bio-toxins is restricted to "prevention and treatment (research that is being done by many nations in light of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction) and not production or experimentation. Human beings are not used for testing, and no genetic research of any type is being done at Nes Tziyyona," the spokesman said.

The phrase "blood libel" is a reference to charges that Jews were responsible for the black plague that killed a third of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages -- charges, one observer noted, that also originated in England. ]

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Albion Monitor November 23, 1998 (

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