“The Jewish problem is one of the greatest problems in the world, and no man, be he writer, politician or diplomatist, can be considered mature until he has striven to face it squarely on its merits.”
—Henry Wickham Steed
The Culture of Critique’s
“Jews and the Media: Shaping ‘Ways of Seeing'”
in the Preface:
I noted above that Jewish movements opposing European domination of the U.S. focused on three critical areas of power: The academic world of information in the social sciences and humanities, the political world where public policy on immigration and other ethnic issues are decided, and the mass media where “ways of seeing” are presented to the public. CofC focused on the first two of these sources of power, but little attention was given to the mass media except where it served to promote Jewish intellectual or political movements, as in the case of psychoanalysis. This lack of attention to the cultural influence of the mass media is a major gap. The following represents only a partial and preliminary discussion.
By all accounts, ethnic Jews have a powerful influence in the American media—far larger than any other identifiable group. The extent of Jewish ownership and influence on the popular media in the United States is remarkable given the relatively small proportion of the population that is Jewish.(28) In a survey performed in the 1980s, 60 percent of a representative sample of the movie elite were of Jewish background (Powers et al. 1996, 79n13). Michael Medved (1996, 37) notes that “it makes no sense at all to try to deny the reality of Jewish power and prominence in popular culture. Any list of the most influential production executives at each of the major movie studios will produce a heavy majority of recognizably Jewish names. This prominent Jewish role is obvious to anyone who follows news reports from Tinsel Town or even bothers to read the credits on major movies or television shows.”
Media ownership is always in flux, but the following is a reasonably accurate portrait of current media ownership in the United States by ethnic Jews:
The largest media company in the world was recently formed by the merger of America On Line and Time Warner. Gerald M. Levin, formerly the head of Time Warner, is the Chief Executive Officer of the new corporation. AOL-Time Warner has holdings in television (e.g., Home Box Office, CNN, Turner Broadcasting), music (Warner Music), movies (Warner Brothers Studio, Castle Rock Entertainment, and New Line Cinema), and publishing (Time, Sports Illustrated, People, Fortune).
The second largest media company is the Walt Disney Company, headed by Michael Eisner. Disney has holdings in movies (Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, under Walt Disney Studios, includes Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Caravan Pictures, Miramax Films); television (Capital Cities/ABC [owner of the ABC television network], Walt Disney Television, Touchstone Television, Buena Vista Television, ESPN, Lifetime, A&E Television networks) and cable networks with more than 100 million subscribers; radio (ABC Radio Network with over 3,400 affiliates and ownership of 26 stations in major cities); publishing (seven daily newspapers, Fairchild Publications [Women’s Wear Daily], and the Diversified Publishing Group).
The third largest media company is Viacom, Inc., headed by Sumner Redstone, who is also Jewish. Viacom has holdings in movies (Paramount Pictures); broadcasting (the CBS TV network; MTV [a particular focus of criticism by cultural conservatives], VH-1, Nickelodeon, Showtime, the National Network, Black Entertainment Television, 13 television stations; programming for the three television networks); publishing (Simon & Schuster, Scribner, The Free Press, and Pocket Books), video rentals (Blockbuster); it is also involved in satellite broadcasting, theme parks, and video games.
Another major media player is Edgar Bronfman, Jr., the son of Edgar Bronfman, Sr., president of the World Jewish Congress and heir to the Seagram distillery fortune. Until its merger with Vivendi, a French Company, in December 2000, Bronfman headed Universal Studios, a major movie production company, and the Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company (including Polygram, Interscope Records, Island/Def Jam, Motown, Geffen/DGC Records).
After the merger, Bronfman became the Executive Vice-Chairman of the new company, Vivendi Universal, and the Bronfman family and related entities became the largest shareholders in the company.(29) Edgar Bronfman, Sr. is on the Board of Directors of the new company.
Other major television companies owned by Jews include New World Entertainment (owned by Ronald Perelman who also owns Revlon cosmetics), and DreamWorks SKG (owned by film director Steven Spielberg, former Disney Pictures chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, and recording industry mogul David Geffen). DreamWorks SKG produces movies, animated films, television programs, and recorded music. Spielberg is also a Jewish ethnic activist. After makingSchindler’s List, Spielberg established Survivors of the Shoah Foundation with the aid of a grant from the U.S. Congress. He also helped fund Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s defense against a libel suit brought by British military historian and Holocaust revisionist David Irving.
In the world of print media, the Newhouse media empire owns 26 daily newspapers, including several large and important ones, such as the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Newark Star-Ledger, and the New Orleans Times-Picayune; Newhouse Broadcasting, consisting of 12 television broadcasting stations and 87 cable-TV systems, including some of the country’s largest cable networks; the Sunday supplement Parade, with a circulation of more than 22 million copies per week; some two dozen major magazines, including the New Yorker, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Bride’s, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Self, House & Garden, and all the other magazines of the wholly owned Conde Nast group.
The newsmagazine, U.S. News & World Report, with a weekly circulation of 2.3 million, is owned and published by Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Zuckerman also owns New York’s tabloid newspaper, the Daily News, the sixth-largest paper in the country, and is the former owner of the Atlantic Monthly. Zuckerman is a Jewish ethnic activist. Recently he was named head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella organization for major Jewish organizations in the U.S.(30) Zuckerman’s column in U.S. News and World Report regularly defends Israel and has helped to rejuvenate the America-Israeli Friendship League, of which he is president.(31)
Another Jewish activist with a prominent position in the U.S. media is Martin Peretz, owner of The New Republic (TNR) since 1974. Throughout his career Peretz has been devoted to Jewish causes, particularly Israel. During the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, he told Henry Kissinger that his “dovishness stopped at the delicatessen door,” and many among his staff feared that all issues would be decided on the basis of what was “good for the Jews” (Alterman 1992, 185, 186). Indeed, one editor was instructed to obtain material from the Israeli embassy for use in TNR editorials. “It is not enough to say that TNR’s owner is merely obsessed with Israel; he says so himself. But more importantly, Peretz is obsessed with Israel’s critics, Israel’s would-be critics, and people who never heard of Israel, but might one day know someone who might someday become a critic” (Alterman 1992, 195).
The Wall Street Journal is the largest-circulation daily newspaper in the U.S. It is owned by Dow Jones & Company, Inc., a New York corporation that also publishes 24 other daily newspapers and the weekly financial paper Barron’s. The chairman and CEO of Dow Jones is Peter R. Kann. Kann also holds the posts of chairman and publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
The Sulzberger family owns the New York Times Co., which owns 33 other newspapers, including the Boston Globe. It also owns twelve magazines (including McCall’s and Family Circle, each with a circulation of more than 5 million), seven radio and TV broadcasting stations; a cable-TV system; and three book publishing companies. The New York Times News Service transmits news stories, features, and photographs from the New York Times by wire to 506 other newspapers, news agencies, and magazines.
Jewish ownership of the New York Times is particularly interesting because it has been the most influential newspaper in the U.S. since the start of the 20th century. As noted in a recent book on the Sulzberger family (Tifft & Jones 1999), even at that time, there were several Jewish-owned newspapers, including the New York World (controlled by Joseph Pulitzer), the Chicago Times-Herald and Evening Post (controlled by H. H. Kohlsaat), and the New York Post (controlled by the family of Jacob Schiff). In 1896 Adolph Ochs purchased the New York Times with the critical backing of several Jewish businessmen, including Isidor Straus (co-owner of Macy’s department stores) and Jacob Schiff (a successful investment banker who was also a Jewish ethnic activist). “Schiff and other prominent Jews like… Straus had made it clear they wanted Adolph to succeed because they believed he ‘could be of great service to the Jews generally’” (Tifft & Jones 1999, 37-38). Ochs’s father-in-law was the Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the founder of Reform Judaism in the United States.
There are some exceptions to this pattern of media ownership, but even in such cases ethnic Jews have a major managerial role.(32) For example, Rupert’s News Corporation owns Fox Television Network, 20th Century Fox Films, Fox 2000, and the New York Post. However, Peter Chernin is president and CEO of Fox Group, which includes all of News Corporation’s film, television, and publishing operations in the United States. Murdoch is deeply philosemitic and deeply committed to Israel, at least partly from a close relationship he developed early in his career with Leonard Goldenson, who founded the American Broadcasting Company. (Goldenson was a major figure in New York’s Jewish establishment and an outspoken supporter of Israel.) Murdoch’s publications have taken a strongly pro-Israel line, including The Weekly Standard, the premier neo-conservative magazine, edited by William Kristol.
Murdoch… as publisher and editor-in-chief of the New York Post, had a large Jewish constituency, as he did to a lesser degree with New York magazine and The Village Voice. Not only had the pre-Murdoch Post readership been heavily Jewish, so, too, were the present Post advertisers. Most of Murdoch’s closest friends and business advisers were wealthy, influential New York Jews intensely active in pro-Israel causes. And he himself still retained a strong independent sympathy for Israel, a personal identification with the Jewish state that went back to his Oxford days. (Kiernan 1986, 261)
Murdoch also developed close relationships with several other prominent Jewish figures in the New York establishment, including attorney Howard Squadron, who was president of the AJCongress and head of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, and investment banker Stanley Schuman.
Another exception is NBC which is owned by General Electric. However, the President of NBC is Andrew Lack and the President of NBC News is Neal Shapiro, both of whom are Jewish. In addition, the Bertelsmann publishing group is a Germany-based company that is the largest publisher of trade books in the world and also owns magazines, newspapers, and music. Most of Bertelsmann’s influence is outside the United States, although it recently purchased the Random House Publishing Company.
Even granting the exceptions, it is clear that Jews enjoy a very powerful position in U.S. media, a position that is far more powerful than any other racial/ethnic group. The phenomenal concentration of media power in Jewish hands becomes all the more extraordinary when one notes that Jews constitute approximately 2.5% of the U.S. population. If the Jewish percentage of the American media elite is estimated at 59% (Lichter et al. 1983, 55)—probably an underestimate at the present time—, the degree of disproportionate representation may be calculated as greater than 2000%. The likelihood that such an extraordinary disparity could arise by chance is virtually nil. Ben Stein, noting that about 60% of the top positions in Hollywood are held by Jews, says “Do Jews run Hollywood? You bet they do—and what of it?”(33) Does Jewish ownership and control of the media have any effect on the product? Here I attempt to show that the attitudes and opinions favored by the media are those generally held by the wider Jewish community, and that the media tends to provide positive images of Jews and negative images of traditional American and Christian culture.
As many academics have pointed out, the media have become more and more important in creating culture (e.g., Powers et al. 1996, 2). Before the 20th century, the main creators of culture were the religious, military, and business institutions. In the course of the 20th century these institutions became less important while the media have increased in importance (for an account of this transformation in the military, see Bendersky 2000). And there is little doubt that the media attempt to shape the attitudes and opinions of the audience (Powers et al. 1996, 2-3). Part of the continuing culture of critique is that the media elite tend to be very critical of Western culture. Western civilization is portrayed as a failing, dying culture, but at worst it is presented as sick and evil compared to other cultures (Powers et al. 1996, 211). These views were common in Hollywood long before the cultural revolution of the 1960s, but they were not often expressed in the media because of the influence of non-Jewish cultural conservatives.
Perhaps the most important issue Jews and Jewish organizations have championed is cultural pluralism—the idea that the United States ought not to be ethnically and culturally homogeneous. As described in CofC, Jewish organizations and Jewish intellectual movements have championed cultural pluralism in many ways, especially as powerful and effective advocates of an open immigration policy. The media have supported this perspective by portraying cultural pluralism almost exclusively in positive terms—that cultural pluralism is easily achieved and is morally superior to a homogeneous Christian culture made up mainly of white non-Jews. Characters who oppose cultural pluralism are portrayed as stupid and bigoted (Lichter et al. 1994, 251), the classic being the Archie Bunker character in Norman Lear’s All in the Family television series. Departures from racial and ethnic harmony are portrayed as entirely the result of white racism (Powers et al. 1996, 173).
Since Jews have a decisive influence on television and movies, it is not surprising that Jews are portrayed positively in the movies. There have been a great many explicitly Jewish movies and television shows with recognizable Jewish themes. Hollywood has an important role in promoting “the Holocaust Industry,” with movies like Spielberg’s Schindler’s List (1993) and the four-part television miniseries Holocaust (1978), written by Gerald Green, directed by Marvin Chomsky, and produced by Herbert Brodkin and Robert Berger. Both of these films were lavishly promoted by Jewish groups. The promotion for Holocaust in 1978 was remarkable (Novick 1999, 210).
The ADL distributed ten million copies of its sixteen-page tabloid The Record for this purpose. Jewish organizations pressured major newspapers to serialize a novel based on the script and to publish special inserts on the Holocaust. The Chicago Sun-Times distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of its insert to local schools.
The AJCommittee, in cooperation with NBC, distributed millions of copies of a study guide for viewers; teachers’ magazines carried other teaching material tied to the program so that teachers could easily discuss the program in class.
Jewish organizations worked with the National Council of Churches to prepare other promotional and educational materials, and they organized advance viewings for religious leaders. The day the series began was designated “Holocaust Sunday”; various activities were scheduled in cities across the country; the National Conference of Christians and Jews distributed yellow stars to be worn on that day. Study guides for Jewish children depicted the Holocaust as the result of Christian anti-Semitism. The material given to Jewish children also condemned Jews who did not have a strong Jewish identity. This massive promotion succeeded in many of its goals. These included the introduction of Holocaust education programs in many states and municipalities, beginning the process that led to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a major upsurge of support for Israel.
In general, television portrays Jewish issues “with respect, relative depth, affection and good intentions, and the Jewish characters who appear in these shows have, without any doubt, been Jewish—often depicted as deeply involved in their Judaism” (Pearl & Pearl 1999, 5).
For example, All in the Family (and its sequel, Archie Bunker’s Place) not only managed to portray working class Europeans as stupid and bigoted, it portrayed Jewish themes very positively. By the end of its 12-year run, even archenemy Archie Bunker had raised a Jewish child in his home, befriended a black Jew (implication: Judaism has no ethnic connotations), gone into business with a Jewish partner, enrolled as a member of a synagogue, praised his close friend at a Jewish funeral, hosted a Sabbath dinner, participated in a bat mitzvah ceremony, and joined a group to fight synagogue vandalism. These shows, produced by liberal political activist Norman Lear, thus exemplify the general trend for television to portray non-Jews as participating in Jewish ritual, and “respecting, enjoying, and learning from it. Their frequent presence and active involvement underscores the message that these things are a normal part of American life” (Pearl & Pearl 1999, 16). Jewish rituals are portrayed as “pleasant and ennobling, and they bestow strength, harmony, fulfillment, and sense of identity upon those who observe them” (p. 62).
Television presents images of Jewish issues that conform to the views of mainstream Jewish organizations. Television “invariably depicts anti-Semitism as an ugly, abhorrent trait that must be fought at every turn” (p. 103). It is seen as metaphysical and beyond analysis. There is never any rational explanation for anti-Semitism; anti-Semitism is portrayed as an absolute, irrational evil. Positive, well-liked, non-Jewish characters, such as Mary Tyler Moore, often lead the fight against anti-Semitism—a pattern reminiscent of that noted in CofC in which non-Jews become high-profile spokespersons for Jewish dominated movements. There is also the implication that anti-Semitism is a proper concern of the entire community.
Regarding Israel, “on the whole, popular TV has conveyed the fact that Israel is the Jewish homeland with a strong emotional pull upon Diaspora Jews, that it lives in perpetual danger surrounded by foes, and that as a result of the constant and vital fight for its survival, it often takes extraordinary (sometimes rogue) measures in the fields of security and intelligence” (Pearl & Pearl 1999, 173). Non-Jews are portrayed as having deep admiration and respect for Israel, its heroism and achievements. Israel is seen as a haven for Holocaust survivors, and Christians are sometimes portrayed as having an obligation to Israel because of the Holocaust.
In the movies, a common theme is Jews coming to the rescue of non-Jews, as in Independence Day, where Jeff Goldblum plays a “brainy Jew” who rescues the world, and in Ordinary People, where Judd Hirsch plays a Jewish psychiatrist who rescues an uptight WASP family (Bernheimer 1998, 125-126). The movie Addams Family Values, discussed in CofC (Ch. 1, Note 4) is another example of this genre. Bernheimer (1998, 162) notes that “in many films, the Jew is the moral exemplar who uplifts and edifies a gentile, serving as a humanizing influence by embodying culturally ingrained values.” As discussed in CofC, this “Jews to the Rescue” theme also characterizes psychoanalysis and Jewish leftist radicalism: Psychoanalytic Jews save non-Jews from their neuroses, and radical Jews save the world from the evils of capitalism.
On the other hand, Christianity is typically portrayed as evil, even going so far as depicting Christians as psychopaths. Michael Medved describes Hollywood’s cumulative attacks in recent years on the traditional American family, patriotism, and traditional sexual mores—the Hollywood version of the culture of critique. But the most obvious focus of attack is on the Christian religion:
In the ongoing war on traditional values, the assault on organized faith represents the front to which the entertainment industry has most clearly committed itself. On no other issue do the perspectives of the show business elites and those of the public at large differ more dramatically. Time and again, the producers have gone out of their way to affront the religious sensibilities of ordinary Americans. (Medved 1992/1993, 50)(34)
Medved fails to find even one film made since the mid-1970s where Christianity is portrayed positively apart from a few films where it is portrayed as an historical relic—a museum piece. Examples where Christianity is portrayed negatively abound. For example, in the film Monsignor (1982), a Catholic priest commits every imaginable sin, including the seduction of a glamorous nun and then is involved in her death. In Agnes of God (1985), a disturbed young nun gives birth in a convent, murders her baby, and then flushes the tiny, bloody corpse down the toilet. There are also many subtle anti-Christian scenes in Hollywood films, such as when the director Rob Reiner repeatedly focuses on the tiny gold crosses worn by Kathy Bates, the sadistic villain in Misery.
Another media tendency is to portray small towns as filled with bigots and anti-Semites. Media commentator Ben Stein records the hostility of the media toward rural America:
The typical Hollywood writer… is of an ethnic background from a large Eastern city—usually from Brooklyn [i.e., they have a Jewish background]. He grew up being taught that people in small towns hated him, were different from him, and were out to get him [i.e., small town people are anti-Semites]. As a result, when he gets the chance, he attacks the small town on television or the movies…
The television shows and movies are not telling it “like it is”; instead they are giving us the point of view of a small and extremely powerful section of the American intellectual community—those who write for the mass visual media… What is happening, as a consequence, is something unusual and remarkable. A national culture is making war upon a way of life that is still powerfully attractive and widely practiced in the same country… Feelings of affection for small towns run deep in America, and small-town life is treasured by millions of people. But in the mass culture of the country, a hatred for the small town is spewed out on television screens and movie screens every day… Television and the movies are America’s folk culture, and they have nothing but contempt for the way of life of a very large part of the folk… People are told that their culture is, at its root, sick, violent, and depraved, and this message gives them little confidence in the future of that culture. It also leads them to feel ashamed of their country and to believe that if their society is in decline, it deserves to be. (Stein 1976, 22)
This is a good example of social identity processes so important in both Jewish attitudes toward non-Jews and non-Jewish attitudes toward Jews: Outgroups are portrayed negatively and ingroups are portrayed positively (see CofC passim and MacDonald 1998a, Ch. 1).
Influence on the media undoubtedly has a major influence on how Israel is portrayed—a major theme of Finkelstein’s (2000) The Holocaust Industry. Ari Shavit, an Israeli columnist, described his feelings on the killings of a hundred civilians in a military skirmish in southern Lebanon in 1996, “We killed them out of a certain naive hubris. Believing with absolute certitude that now, with the White House, the Senate, and much of the American media in our hands, the lives of others do not count as much as our own.”(35)
The election of Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister of Israel provides another study in contrast. There was a huge difference in the media reaction to Sharon and the response to the situation in Austria when Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party won enough seats in parliament to have a role in the Austrian government. Several countries, including Israel, recalled their ambassadors in response to the election of Haider. Politicians around the world condemned Austria and announced that they would not tolerate Haider’s participation in any Austrian government. Trade embargoes against Austria were threatened. The cause of these actions was that Haider had said that there had been many decent people fighting on the German side during World War II, including some in the SS. He had also said that some of Hitler’s economic policies in the 1930s had made good sense. And he had called for a cutoff of immigration into Austria. Haider apologized for these statements, but the electoral success of his party resulted in the ostracism of Austria and a continuous barrage of alarmist media attacks against him personally.
Contrast this with the treatment of Ariel Sharon’s election as prime minister of Israel in 2001. Sharon was Israel’s Minister of Defense in September 1982 during the slaughter of 700-2000 Palestinians, including women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps just outside Beirut, Lebanon. New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman saw “groups of young men in their twenties and thirties who had been lined up against walls, tied by their hands and feet, and then mowed down gangland style.”(36) Radio communications among Israeli military commanders were monitored in which they talked about carrying out “purging operations” in the refugee camps. While the actual killing was done by Lebanese Christians supported by Israel, the Israeli army kept the camps sealed for two days while the slaughter went on. The Kahan Commission, an Israeli commission formed to investigate the incident, concluded that Sharon was indirectly responsible for the massacre, and it went on to say that Sharon bears personal responsibility.(37)
The reaction to the election of Sharon in the U.S. media has been subdued to say the least. No trade embargoes were threatened, no ambassadors were recalled. The Los Angeles Times dutifully printed a column in which Sharon was portrayed as having “learned from his mistakes.”(38) In June, 2001, Sharon was indicted as a war criminal in Belgium on the basis of affidavits provided by survivors of the slaughter. It is also noteworthy that Rehavam Zeevi, a close associate of Sharon and Israel’s Minister of Tourism as well as a member of the powerful Security Cabinet until his assassination in October, 2001, described Palestinians as “lice” and advocated the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli controlled areas. Zeevi said Palestinians were living illegally in Israel and “We should get rid of the ones who are not Israeli citizens the same way you get rid of lice. We have to stop this cancer from spreading within us.”(39)
As another indication of the very large Jewish influence on the U.S. media, Eric Alterman notes that “in most of the world, it is the Palestinian narrative of a dispossessed people that dominates. In the United States, however, the narrative that dominates is Israel’s: a democracy under constant siege.” (E. Alterman, “Intractable foes, warring narratives: While much of the world sees Mideast conflict through Palestinian eyes, in America, Israel’s view prevails” March 28, 2002).
A critical source of support for Israel is the army of professional pundits “who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualification.” Alterman lists 60 prominent media personalities in this camp including a long list of Jewish writers: William Safire, A. M. Rosenthal, Charles Krauthammer, Martin Peretz, Daniel Pipes, Andrea Peyser, Dick Morris, Lawrence Kaplan, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Mortimer Zuckerman, David Gelertner, John Podhoretz, Mona Charen, Yossi Klein Halevi, Sidney Zion, Norman Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, Jeff Jacoby, Seth Lipsky, Irving Kristol, Ben Wattenberg, Lawrence Kudlow, Alan Dershowitz, David Horowitz, Jacob Heilbrun, Michael Ledeen, Uri Dan, Paul Greenberg.
These writers have access to virtually all of the major media in the United States.
This contrasts with a much smaller group of five columnists “likely to be reflexively anti-Israel and/or pro-Palestinian regardless of circumstance.” These include Patrick Buchanan, Christopher Hitchens, Edward Said, Alexander Cockburn, and Robert Novak. Three of these columnists are associated with the far left journal, The Nation (Cockburn, Hitchens, Said), and only Novak is presently affiliated with a major media organization (The Washington Post). Alterman points to another small group classified as “columnists likely to criticize both Israel and the Palestinians, but view themselves to be critically supporters of Israel, and ultimately would support Israeli security over Palestinian rights”; this group includes the editorial Boards of The New York Times and The Washington Post. Another columnist who should be included in the intermediate category is Michael Lind, who noted the following in a column in Newsweek International (April 3, 2002):
What passes in the United States as an evenhanded stance is perceived, not only in the Middle East but in Europe and throughout the world, as unquestioning American support of bully tactics by Israel… For more than a decade, U.S. policy toward Israel has been shaped as much by domestic politics as by grand strategy: the pro-Israel lobby is the most powerful one in Washington. This support for Israel—no matter what its policies—has given license to Israel’s hard right to employ savage means of oppression against the Palestinians, and even against their own Arab citizens. While it is rarely noted in the American media, Israel has now occupied Palestinian lands for 35 years, denying 3 million people rights, and ruling over them with brutality.
There can be little doubt that the U.S. media is dominated by a pro-Israeli perspective ultimately deriving from Jewish influence on the media. What is perhaps most interesting is the long list of non-Jews who are in the first category—those who support Israel reflexively and without qualification. These include George Will, William Bennett, Andrew Sullivan, Allan Keyes, Brit Hume, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Barone, Ann Coulter, Linda Chavez, and Rush Limbaugh.
The fact that reflexive support for Israel is not characteristic of non-Jews in other societies with less Jewish influence on the media strongly suggests that unconditional support for Israel is a critical litmus test of acceptability by the major media in the U.S.—that prospective pundits “earn their stripes” by showing their devotion to Israel (and, one might infer, other Jewish issues, such as immigration; none of these pundits is a critic of massive non-European immigration into Western societies). After all, reflexive, uncritical support for anything is rare enough for any issue, and we know that the media in other countries are not so one-sided. So it seems difficult to explain the huge tilt toward Israel as the result of individual attitudes in the absence of some enormous selective factor. And there is the obvious suggestion that while the Jews on this list must be seen as ethnic actors, the non-Jews are certainly making an excellent career move in taking the positions they do.
This litmus test for prospective opinion makers is further supported by the fact that Joe Sobran was fired from National Review because he had the temerity to suppose that U.S. foreign policy should not be dictated by what’s best for Israel—an event that was accompanied by charges by Norman Podhoretz that Sobran was an “anti-Semite” (see Buckley 1992; Podhoretz, 1986).
Notes [the Bibliography appears in the 10th entry]
28. Discussions of Jewish ownership of the media include: Ginsberg 1993, 1; Kotkin 1993, 61; Silberman 1985, 147.
29. http://www.economictimes.com/today/31tech22.htm [this item has been removed from that site]
30. The Forward, April 27, 2001, pp. 1, 9.
31. The Forward, November 14, 1997, p. 14.
32. A partial exception is the Washington Post Co. Until her recent death, the Washington Post was run by Katherine Meyer Graham, daughter of Eugene Meyer, who purchased the paper in the 1930s. Ms. Graham had a Jewish father and a Christian mother and was raised as an Episcopalian. Katherine’s husband, the former publisher of the Post, Phil Graham, was not Jewish. The Post’s publisher, since 1991, is Donald Graham, the son of Katherine and Phil Graham. This influential publishing group is thus less ethnically Jewish than the others mentioned here. The Washington Post Co. has a number of other media holdings in newspapers (The Gazette Newspapers, including 11 military publications), television stations, and magazines, most notably the nation’s number-two weekly newsmagazine, Newsweek. The Washington Post Co.’s various television ventures reach a total of about 7 million homes, and its cable TV service, Cable One, has 635,000 subscribers. In a joint venture with the New York Times, the Post publishes the International Herald Tribune, the most widely distributed English language daily in the world.
33. http://www.eonline.com/Features/Specials/Jews/ [this item has been removed from that site]
34. Cones (1997) provides a similar analysis:
This analysis of Hollywood films with religious themes or characters reveals that in the last four decades Hollywood has portrayed Christians as sexually rigid, devil worshipping cultists, talking to God, disturbed, hypocritical, fanatical, psychotic, dishonest, murder suspects, Bible quoting Nazis, slick hucksters, fake spiritualists, Bible pushers, de-ranged preachers, obsessed, Catholic schoolboys running amok, Adam & Eve as pawns in a game between God and Satan, an unbalanced nun accused of killing her newborn infant, dumb, manipulative, phony, outlaws, neurotic, mentally unbalanced, unscrupulous, destructive, foul mouthed, fraudulent and as miracle fabricators. Few, if any, positive portrayals of Christians were found in Hollywood films released in the last four decades.
35. Reprinted in the New York Times May 27, 1996.
36. James Ron, “Is Ariel Sharon Israel’s Milosevic?” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2001.
37. http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0ign0 [this item has been removed from that site].
We shall remark here that it is ostensibly puzzling that the Defense Minister did not in any way make the Prime Minister privy to the decision on having the Phalangists enter the camps.
It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defense for having disregarded the danger of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps, and having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the Minister of Defense for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the danger of massacre as a condition for the Phalangists’ entry into the camps. These blunders constitute the non-fulfillment of a duty with which the Defense Minister was charged.
38. Yossi Klein Halevi, “Sharon has learned from his mistakes.” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2001.
39. Washington Post, July 3, 2001; Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2001.
40. Jewish organizations have also been strong advocates of “hate crime” legislation. For example, in 1997 the ADL published Hate Crimes: ADL Blueprint for Action, which provides recommendations on prevention and response strategies to crimes of ethnic violence, such as penalty enhancement laws, training for law enforcement and the military, security for community institutions, and community anti-bias awareness initiatives. In June 2001 the ADL announced a program designed to assist law enforcement in the battle against “extremists and hate groups.” A major component of the Law Enforcement Initiative is the development of specialized hate crime, extremism, and anti-bias curricula for training programs designed for law enforcement.