Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Murdoch, Maxwell and Conrad Black - all crooks, all Zionists

The Unholy Trinity of Zionist Newspaper Barons

It is a strange thing. All the newspaper barons who have distinguished themselves by their support for Israel and Zionism are arch-crooks.

There was Robert Maxwell, an avid supporter of Israel and Labour Friends of Israel who bought Israel Bonds (more often than not with the money of Mirror pensioners) who was given a state funeral in Israel and buried on the Mount of Olives by Israel’s corrupt and racist Orthodox Rabbinate.

Then there was Conrad Black and his detestable wife, Barbara Amiel. In a delicious story, Amiel recounts for benefit of another crook’s newspaper, The Times, how she has been abandoned by her rich friends like Henry Kissinger. Now there’s a surprise. And even more startling, she has now woken up to the idea of miscarriages of justice (even if she still doesn’t get it regarding her fraudulent husband).

Lest we not forget Black took one of Israel’s few (relatively) decent newspapers, the Jerusalem Post (formerly the Palestine Post) and turned it into a detestable right-wing Zionist rag. The imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians without trial, the theft of their land, the murders and torture and hunger – none of this made any impression on Lord Black (yes he also abandoned his Canadian citizenship for a peerage). Unfortunately he got found out spending his shareholders’ money as if it were his own.

And then of course there is the chief rogue of the lot – Rupert Murdoch – who presides over an international criminal conspiracy otherwise known as News International. The News of the World has been abandoned to its fate as former editors and Cameron buddies, Andy Coulson and Rebecca Brooks face criminal charges for phone hacking.

Of course it is often the case that ruling class criminals get charged with the least of their crimes. Witness Richard Nixon. Lying to Congress was a capital offence, whereas waging a secret war in Cambodia, which led to over a million dead, was treated as a misdemeanour.

The Sun, waged a vicious war against the Miners, demonising decent workers who were trying to save their industry. Murdoch’s mixture of soft porn and virulent anti-working class politics is straight out of 1984. Black by comparison was an amateur, as he foisted his talentless wife on the readers of the Daily Telegraph.

But Zionists like Isi Leibler are worried. Murdoch was ‘a genuine friend of Israel’ just as he was a genuine friend of the 1.3 million Iraqis who died in the invasion that he and his papers supported. And that is the sad truth. Israel’s friends come from the most shady and crooked elements of the Right.

Rejoice, rejoice at their fate!

Tony Greenstein

July 20, 2011 by Isi Leibler

For Israel, a major erosion of the Murdoch media would have highly adverse repercussions….
Rupert Murdoch, the man who single-handedly created the most powerful media conglomerate in the world, is currently experiencing a nightmare. Not only is his empire under siege but his competitors are literally baying for his blood, inciting the public and indulging in an unprecedented campaign to demonise him. They are also denying the presumption of innocence before being tried. Moreover, there is enormous hypocrisy from other newspapers who have been engaged in similar transgressions being at the forefront of calling for the dismantling of Murdoch’s media holdings.

That being said, the behaviour of the senior management and journalists employed by News of the World was utterly unconscionable and represents a disgrace to all canons of journalism. Those involved deserve to be punished with the utmost severity.

Despite the proliferating media feeding frenzy, which journalist Melanie Phillips describes as a Robespierrian moment comparable to the death of Princess Diana, there is, as of now, no proof that Murdoch was even aware of the events taking place. True, even in a major conglomerate like the Murdoch media conglomerate, lapses of this nature should have been prevented and even if Murdoch is personally exonerated, it will impact adversely on him and his senior management. However, he has expressed contrition, apologized for what took place and, in fact, closed down the newspaper involved – a weekly tabloid, with the largest circulation in the U.K.
While the News of the World was unquestionably a scurrilous broadsheet, one must not overlook that the Murdoch media empire also includes some of the finest daily newspapers in the world such as the Wall Street Journal, the London Times and the Australian.

The hysteria and hatred directed against Murdoch personally is transparent, primarily motivated by politics. He is repeatedly being accused of distorting the news. Yet, when it comes to media prejudice, it is noteworthy that the BBC, by far the largest and most powerful media outlet in the world, renowned for its bias and selective reporting, has never been subject to anything remotely compared to the witch hunt facing Murdoch. Yet the BBC is at the forefront of the campaign personally attacking him.

Over the years, Murdoch has emerged as a bastion against post modernism. In a world dominated by moral equivalency, he has promoted the values of Western civilization. One could even argue that it is primarily due to him that the delusional far left failed to take virtual control of the British media.

For Israel, a major erosion of the Murdoch media would have highly adverse repercussions. In an era in which the liberal global media has increasingly turned against Israel, most of the Murdoch outlets maintain a fair and evenhanded approach.

Murdoch, whom I met personally on a number of occasions, is himself unquestionably a genuine friend of Israel. In fact, he has frequently been falsely described as Jewish by hostile Muslims and other extremists.

While always sympathetic to Israel as the plucky underdog, the turning point in his relationship was 1982, when Ariel Sharon hosted him with a group of editors on a helicopter tour where he witnessed “the vulnerability of the country“ in terms of defensible borders.

His friendship towards Israel was publicly displayed when he was honored in 2009 by the American Jewish Committee and more recently in 2010 by the ADL. At the AJC meeting he stated: “In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States. I say to you: maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel… In the end, 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”.

If Murdoch is found to have been aware of the transgressions, his reputation will be destroyed and he will face major punitive sanctions. But as of now, while his enemies continue baying for his blood, most Israelis will be hoping that despite the criminal nature of the News of the World scandal, Rupert Murdoch and his senior management will be exonerated of direct malfeasance and his media holdings will remain substantially intact.

By Ron Kampeas · July 19, 2011

Rupert Murdoch, left, with Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League at a, October 13, 2010 dinner in honor of the News Corp. chairman. (David Karp Photography)

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Pro-Israel leaders in the United States, Britain and Australia are warily watching the unfolding of the phone-hacking scandal that is threatening to engulf the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corp.

Murdoch’s sudden massive reversal of fortune -- with 10 top former staffers and executives under arrest in Britain for hacking into the phones of public figures and a murdered schoolgirl, and paying off the police and journalists -- has supporters of Israel worried that a diminished Murdoch presence may mute the strongly pro-Israel voice of many of the publications he owns.

“His publications and media have proven to be fairer on the issue of Israel than the rest of the media,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “I hope that won’t be impacted.”

Murdoch’s huge stable encompasses broadsheets such as The Wall Street Journal, the Times of London and The Australian, as well as tabloids, most notably The Sun in Britain and the New York Post. It also includes the influential Fox News Channel in the United States and a 39 percent stake in British Sky Broadcasting, or BSkyB, a satellite broadcaster. Murdoch founded the neoconservative flagship The Weekly Standard in 1995, and sold it last year.

Jewish leaders said that Murdoch’s view of Israel’s dealings with the Palestinians and with its Arab neighbors seemed both knowledgeable and sensitive to the Jewish state’s self-perception as beleaguered and isolated.

“My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews,” Murdoch said last October at an Anti-Defamation League dinner in his honor. “When Americans think of anti-Semitism, we tend to think of the vulgar caricatures and attacks of the first part of the 20th century. Now it seems that the most virulent strains come from the left. Often this new anti-Semitism dresses itself up as legitimate disagreement with Israel."

Murdoch, 80, has visited Israel multiple times and met with many of its leaders. In 2009 he was honored by the American Jewish Committee.

“In the West, we are used to thinking that Israel cannot survive without the help of Europe and the United States,” he said at the AJC event. “Tonight I say to you, maybe we should start wondering whether we in Europe and the United States can survive if we allow the terrorists to succeed in Israel. “

Leaders of a number of pro-Israel groups declined to comment for this story because of Murdoch's current difficulties. On Tuesday he and his son, James, testified before a parliamentary committee in London.

Murdoch also has been seen as a friend of the Jews in the Diaspora, even though Fox has irritated the Jewish establishment for championing at times what many Jews perceive as the margins of right-wing thinking -- for instance, when Fox host Bill O'Reilly defended Mel Gibson's 2004 movie "The Passion of the Christ."

When some Jewish organizational leaders complained that Fox talk show host Glenn Beck was relying on anti-Semitic tropes in peddling discredited theories about liberal billionaire financier George Soros, Murdoch nudged Fox chief Roger Ailes into meetings with Jewish leaders. Beck left Fox last month.

Murdoch’s affection for Israel arose less out of his conservative sensibility than from his native Australian sympathy for the underdog fending off elites seized by conventional wisdoms, according to Isi Liebler, a longtime Australian Jewish community leader who now lives in Israel.

“From my personal communications with him, it's something that built up,” Liebler told JTA. “He's met Israelis, he's been to Israel, he's seen Israel as the plucky underdog when the rest of the world saw Israel as an occupier.”
Australian Jews noted the pro-Israel cast of Murdoch’s papers as early as the 1970s, before he had established ties with the Jewish community. The word from inside his company was that Israel was an issue that he cared about, which helped shape its coverage in his media properties.

Robert Fisk, a veteran Middle East correspondent and a fierce critic of Israel who worked for the Murdoch-owned Times of London from 1981 until 1988, eventually quit and moved to The Independent because of what he said was undue editorial interference in his writing. Recalling those days, Fisk said Murdoch’s influence trickled down through editors who understood that he wanted his media to reflect his outlook.

“I don't believe Murdoch personally interfered in any of the above events,” Fisk wrote recently in The Independent, describing the decisions that drove him away from the Times. “He didn't need to. He had turned The Times into a tame, pro-Tory, pro-Israeli paper shorn of all editorial independence.”

In recent days, Murdoch has appeared wan and battered by the crisis that already has shut down a flagship paper, The News of the World, and scuttled his takeover plans for BSkyB.

The question now circulating in pro-Israel circles is whether the empire’s pro-Israel stance will survive Murdoch.

“Is this curtains for pro-Israel Murdoch?” the London Jewish Chronicle asked in a column last week.

An account of a clash over Israel between Murdoch and his son and heir apparent was first published in the diaries of Labour Party publicist Alastair Campbell and has splashed through pro- and anti-Israel blogs in recent days.

Campbell, in an account republished last week in The Guardian, which has led the coverage of the phone-hacking charges, described a dinner at 10 Downing St., the British prime minister’s residence, in 2002, when Tony Blair -- also seen as pro-Israel -- was its occupant.

“Murdoch said he didn't see what the Palestinians' problem was and James said it was that they were kicked out of their f---ing homes and had nowhere to f---ing live,” the account in The Guardian said. Murdoch chided his son for using foul language in the prime minister’s home.

Liebler said that from what he understood, the incident was an anomaly and one that emerged during one of the most intense periods of Israeli-Palestinian clashes.

“He's had differences with his son on many issues, and this happened once and it went off the map,” Liebler said. “I don't think it was anything fundamental.”

Ron Kampeas is JTA's Washington bureau chief.

Conrad and I were betrayed
From The Sunday Times,August 10, 2008

Barbara Amiel reveals how her husband’s oldest friends turned against them as their gilded world collapsed and jail loomed

My life was wiped out in Chicago — at least all that mattered in it. No big deal for a city that has wiped out many lives, I suppose, but my demise didn’t come at the hand of some zoot-suited mobster. Mine was a judicial murder in the Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals.

The blunt instrument striking me down on June 25 was in fact directed at my husband — I was only collateral damage. In the past few years, newspapers and television producers by the truckload have asked me in vain to talk about “it”. “It”, for them, being the delicious story of the Blacks’ rise and fall in society and business. “It”, for me, meaning the brutal destruction of my husband’s accomplishments, reputation and freedom as well as our life together, his company and with it virtually all shareholders’ equity by a combination of press and judiciary merrily dancing together to the music of the times.

So what, you ask. What does it matter if one well-off, elderly white woman with too many pairs of expensive shoes now finds her social life largely limited to visiting her dearly missed husband in a US federal correctional institution? Should be interesting material for her as a writer.

But if the rich and well-connected cannot get justice, what chance for anyone else — a question I asked in columns about the law long before I married Conrad. What chance for the orange jump-suited, marginalised young men I saw shuffling in front of the judge in Chicago, silent while their court-appointed attorneys negotiated their freedom away in that tight little legal world, where a client’s fate never disturbs the bonhomie between lawyers.

If ostensibly privileged defendants like us can be baselessly smeared, wrongfully deprived, falsely accused, shamelessly persecuted, innocently convicted and grotesquely punished, it doesn’t take much to figure out what happens to the vulnerable and the powerless: they land, finally, in the 8:45am courtroom parade that takes place all over “America the Free” — the country that “wins” 90% of cases and imprisons more people than any other in the world.

Every wife says her husband is innocent. Every convicted man has a tale of how the system is rigged. I suspected some tales were true. Now I know.

My husband, Conrad Black, took 30 years to build his company, Hollinger International, into the third-largest newspaper company in the western world. As the 20th century drew to a close, his divestment strategy in a rapidly changing market earned shareholders nearly $2 billion in capital gains. Then, a large New York institutional investor saw even more profit in wresting control of the company from Conrad to sell parts of it off for a quick profit. The corporate rebels started planting stories in competing newspapers with accusations of management misdeeds at the Hollinger group, ranging from simple greed to outright corruption and thievery.

We were, it seems, a delicious target. After months of daily faxed pages from newspapers around the world revelling in ever more grotesque tales of our alleged extravagance at shareholders’ expense, I stopped reading about my sex life, real or imagined, my conspicuousness in dress, true or false, and my plastic surgery, revealed by me or made up by reporters. I hadn’t a clue what relevance such tripe had to do with the accusations against my husband or why it interested ostensibly serious media commentators, but this was the process of demonisation.

In any event, were I a clothes-crazy predator and were my husband the arrogant and pompous caricature of the books and films depicting him, what then? Would this justify the subsequent twisting of due process by the legal system? Would it make unnecessary the proper scrutiny by the press of public facts and filings? Is this a sufficient reason for silence now, after the essential emptiness of the accusations has been established? If Dreyfus had been a loud and vulgar Jew instead of an officer and a gentleman, would his case have been any the less important or his persecution less unjust?

In his innocence, my husband believed innocence was enough. On May 22, 2003, in response to an activist investor, he created a special committee to investigate allegations of unauthorised or unjustified payments. He was confident that this committee — which hired the former head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission Richard Breeden as counsel — wouldn’t find any wrongful payments for the simple reason that there were none. What my husband did not understand was that the marauders and zealots of corporate governance had their own agenda. Once he had been accused, evidence was unnecessary.

After a five-month investigation, the special committee reported — wrongly, as we now know — that payments of $32.15m made to my husband and others were not authorised by Hollinger International’s board of directors. I remember that day, every detail, including the ashen face of my husband: every TV channel had fictional tales about us flashing across the bottom of the screen.

By then we knew the rats had left the ship, taking with them the last shreds of their integrity: directors like Henry Kissinger, who had sworn eternal loyalty only weeks earlier, the economist Marie-Josée Kravis, former US ambassador to Germany Richard Burt, former governor James Thompson of Illinois, all of them hoping to save themselves the inconvenience of standing up to the threats of regulators and prosecutors. Thus began the draining of Hollinger International and its parent company Hollinger Inc of billions, and my husband of his lifetime of work and earning.

Conrad fought with one hand behind his back. He could get neither information nor access to the special committee’s findings. It had presented no evidence for its charges but he felt duty-bound to resign as CEO and pay back monies it questioned. (He’s owed most of that money now, but the company hasn’t got it.) Deals that Conrad arranged to buy out Hollinger Inc shareholders and sell Hollinger International to give the shareholders a decent profit were blocked by the courts and regulators at the urgings of the corporate governance winners and the new management, who would have had no business to feast on for the next four years had they sold everything. Now, shareholders would sit helplessly and watch the value of their shares evaporate to nil or next-to-nil.

Lawsuits for defamation followed swiftly from both sides. Conrad had no idea, and one could not convince him, that he was in Salem, in the middle of an American witch-hunt. There is no defence against false accusations in Salem.

In August 2004, the special committee issued the so-called “Breeden Report”, accusing Conrad and his team of having run a $500m “corporate kleptocracy”. By the following year, my husband’s one-time partner, former Chicago Sun-Times publisher David Radler, a man with the backbone of a jellyfish, had made a plea agreement with the prosecutors. Not surprising; of all the defendants, Radler was the only one who may have done something dishonest. As the prosecutors knew only too well, this made him the most likely to deal.

The trial began in Chicago in March 2007. Conrad couldn’t wait. This was America, the country he loved and admired all his life. This, he kept telling me, was where ordinary men and women would see the truth. Pessimistic little Jew that I am, I listened and worried. He was facing 17 criminal charges, lead prosecutor Eric Sussman having thrown everything at him, including the kitchen sink — literally, because the charges included the false accusation that he fraudulently stuck Hollinger International with some of the costs of our New York apartment. The jury would eventually throw out this charge, along with many others; but meanwhile it enabled the prosecution to confiscate the proceeds from the sale of our former Park Avenue residence, some $10.5m, as a result of which we were defended in Chicago not by the lawyers we would have liked, but by the lawyers we could afford. After a four-month trial, the jury took two weeks to reach a verdict.

By now, I knew a lot about so-called American justice where, among many evils, the FBI can with impunity knowingly swear incomplete affidavits, and the prosecution can threaten defence witnesses and call up our mortgage holders to let them know their companies will be fully investigated should they renew our loans.

Given this, it was almost surprising that the 12 ordinary citizens of Chicago threw out most of the charges against Conrad and, in monetary terms, acquitted him of 90% of the prosecution’s case. Still, the witch- hunters managed to confuse the jurors enough for them to convict him on three counts of wire fraud involving $6.1m and one of obstruction of justice. The perky trial judge sentenced Conrad to a draconian 6.5 years, which may not be much for having stolen $6.1m but rather a lot for not having stolen it.

On March 3, 2008, we drove to a prison in northern Florida. He stood mute in front of the grey-uniformed correctional officers. “My husband, Conrad Black, is self-surrendering,” I said for him. I had explained to Conrad earlier that he could take nothing, absolutely nothing, into prison but his spectacles and a small sum of money that would be put into a commissary account. I hadn’t noticed the tiny carrier bag he held, which the guard opened on the counter. His glasses were in it but so was his half-used tube of lip salve and the tablets he took for sleep at night. “Can’t have that,” said the correctional officer and handed the Chapstick to me, confiscating the tablets.

Conrad walked towards a door and disappeared. A few weeks later his clothes arrived from the prison in a brown paper parcel. He was 58 when these horrors began, 63 when he entered prison; we knew that unless an appeal succeeded, he’d be nearly 70 when he emerged and I would be 73. In view of this, we rather looked forward to June 5 this year, when the appeals court indicated that it would hear oral arguments.

Even after the debacle of the trial, Conrad placed his hope in the appeal. “Now,” he said to me, “we get to a serious American court.” Kangaroo court, more like it. I’ve attended appeals in Canada and the UK but never have I seen so shabby a performance. The three judges were led by Judge Richard Posner. Posner, a man reputed to be a serious intellect, is certainly a self-important one, listing virtually every publication, including book reviews back to 1964, on his biography page. This is no crime but it does indicate a degree of self-absorption more often seen in film stars.

My husband’s lawyer, Andrew Frey, former US deputy solicitor-general for 13 years, led off: “I want to say a few words at the beginning about obstruction of justice. This is the weakest case I have seen in 45 years.” Little did he know how accurate “a few words” would be. During Frey’s 10-minute opening remarks, Justice Posner made 32 interventions, 24 of which were outright interruptions and 21 of which took place after less than two sentences. Posner’s leitmotif was an irritating whine, “I don’t understand.” As his unfamiliarity with the case emerged, I realised that this was spot-on.

After 10 minutes I knew it was over. What I didn’t know was why.

Three weeks later, the appeal court denied every aspect of the appeal. The judgment, signed by Posner, suggested that he appeared to have read not one defence brief. Why believe the wife? You don’t have to. Do what the appeal court could and should have done: go to the trial transcripts and defence submissions — they’re public documents.

Posner had based his opinion on key points that were simply not factually correct. Acquitted acts were muddled up with convictions. He got around the sticky problem of no evidence against Conrad by redefining an already controversial concept called “honest services”. If Posner’s ruling stands, it is only a slight overstatement to say that the US government will be able to charge almost any businessman with the “crime” of breaching the honest services statute without the tiresome need for evidence, an inappropriate act or any illegitimate gain.

Why did this happen to us? The 1980 film American Gigolo has a line when Richard Gere is trying to find out why he has been set up for a murder. “You were expendable,” sneers the black mobster Leon, with exquisite contempt, “no one liked you.” Well, a lot of people didn’t like us. My husband’s exuberant displays of intellectual prowess, plus his confidence that he was somehow exempt from the normal rules of petty mankind — to wit, he could call many journalists lazy without being buried by them when the first real opportunity came — irritated enemies and even some admirers. My own political incorrectness and penchant for peacock display was a burr under the saddle of many. Add worldly achievement and the evident happiness of our marriage and you have a perfect Petri dish for animus.

Conrad, too, is a man out of joint with his times, whose notion of loyalty, superglue-strong, prevented him from taking the steps he should have with, among others, David Radler, when his capacity for business deceit first surfaced a few years earlier. Nor did Conrad’s entrepreneurial flair and style sit well in the constipated corporate world of the 21st century. My husband may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the early days of this awful saga, when hostile investors were orchestrating a financial squeeze on Hollinger, we had an emergency telephone conference call with the Hollinger Inc directors who included myself, former Canadian high commissioner to the UK Fredrik Eaton, former TV executive Douglas Bassett, lawyer Maureen Sabia, and a man who was the recipient of many favours from Conrad, former Canadian ambassador to the US Allan Gotlieb. The call was a disaster. The directors refused Conrad’s request for more time to raise money.

When the meeting ended, Conrad quickly hung up. I did not. Nor did the other directors who, believing both of us off the line, abandoned their serious tone and began laughing and joking about the stew they had put Conrad in. “I should get an Oscar for my acting,” said Gotlieb in reference to his performance as a concerned director. “I could barely stop myself from laughing when Barbara referred to her concern for Conrad’s reputation,” said Fred Eaton. The woman I had recommended for the board, my old schoolmate Maureen Sabia, sarcastically replied: “All she’s worried about is her own reputation,” and joined happily in the dissing of us both. Here, writ plainly, was the future. These people were among Conrad’s oldest friends.

Because his is the story of the attempted destruction of a rich Anglo businessman, it attracts little sympathy. Our society hunts down, rightly, the guilty individuals who ruin companies and fleece shareholders, but no one sheds a tear for the flourishing company whose shareholders are ruined and fleeced by the government, regulators and self-described corporate reformers riding the Trojan horse of corporate governance. Americans sit smugly confident in their justice system built around the plea bargain — a system that invites intimidation by prosecutors and perjury by witnesses. Every sophisticated American businessman we knew told us early on that, innocent or not, Conrad hadn’t a chance. “Make a deal and plea bargain,” they said.

These issues are larger than Conrad’s penchant for showing off his knowledge about American politics or my buying yet another half-dozen Chanel jackets. Where is the outrage and fury, the understanding that as the rich man is denied justice, so much worse will be the fate of the poorer? Where is the Zola this needs? No point in the wife writing J’Accuse — who will listen to me?

No matter how many disclaimers I make, when you have to defend yourself or your husband, it can only leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Writing this is humiliating, but it needs to be said.

When Conrad was ousted, his company’s shares were fast heading towards $18; now, five years later, they won’t fetch 50 cents. He offered to buy his Canadian company’s shares for $7.60; the regulators stopped him. Today those shares are worth zero. Dissident investors who balked at paying $25m a year to those who created Hollinger

International’s wealth ended up paying $45m a year to the “reformers” — the lawyers, auditors and investigators who dissipated it. “Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town...” The corporate governance racketeers could teach Al Capone a lesson or two.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Tony. Your thoughts are always appreciated. Fee xxx


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