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Former ADL chief Abe Foxman says he’d honor Fox’s Rupert Murdoch ‘again today’

Current leader of Anti-Defamation League has lashed news network and its owner for far-right views, but Foxman defends past award, says Fox is not anti-Semitic

Abraham Foxman (photo credit: David Karp/JTA)
Abraham Foxman (photo credit: David Karp/JTA)

JTA — Days after his successor at the Anti-Defamation League said he would not honor Rupert Murdoch today, Abraham Foxman said he stands by the award he gave to the Fox News owner a decade ago.

In 2010, under Foxman’s leadership, the ADL gave Murdoch its International Leadership Award in recognition of his “stalwart support of Israel and his commitment to promoting respect and speaking out against anti-Semitism.”

In the years since, critics of Fox have called out the network, and particularly its popular talk show host Tucker Carlson, for giving a platform to far-right ideas.

Last week, current ADL leader Jonathan Greenblatt called on Fox to fire Carlson for endorsing the white supremacist theory that there is a coordinated effort to “replace” the population of the United States with immigrants from the “third world.” (Carlson said he was not discussing an issue of race.)

Greenblatt said he would not honor Murdoch if the Australian media magnate were up for an award today.

Foxman had a different take. “I’m proud that I gave it to him then and I would give it to him again today,” he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Tuesday.

Foxman declined to comment on Carlson’s remarks. But he did say he believes Fox as a network is not anti-Semitic.

Rupert Murdoch at an event in New York, Oct. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

“It’s a lot of things but it’s not an anti-Semitic network and it’s certainly not an anti-Israel network,” he said.

He added, “The issue was not giving an award to Fox. That was not the issue. The issue was giving an award to Rupert Murdoch.”

In his nearly three-decade tenure at the helm of the ADL, from which he retired in 2015, Foxman was perhaps the most prominent public arbiter of what was and was not anti-Semitic. As the organization’s director, he saw combating anti-Semitism across the political spectrum and supporting Israel as part and parcel of the same mission.

Under Greenblatt, the ADL has retained that dual mission of fighting anti-Semitism and defending Israel. While the organization has condemned anti-Semitism on the right and left, Greenblatt has been especially outspoken about the danger of white supremacists in the United States and has criticized former US president Donald Trump’s failure to consistently condemn them.

A Holocaust survivor, Foxman came out publicly against Donald Trump, Fox’s favored candidate, ahead of the 2020 election. He said Murdoch’s support for the Republican candidate also did not cause him to rethink the decision to honor Murdoch.

“There are a number of people throughout my years at the ADL who I had the opportunity, the fortune, the privilege to honor,” he said. “Some of them support Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump was a danger to American Jews. That doesn’t cancel out all these people who even today still support him.”

He said that regardless of his political disagreements with Fox, he still appreciated Murdoch’s personal opposition to anti-Semitism and his support of Israel.

“He should be recognized for who he is and was on issues relating to the Jewish people and Israel,” Foxman said. “That hasn’t changed. I may not like what his newspaper writes. I may not like what his TV network projects. But he has still earned what I believe he earned 10 years ago.”

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