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Hillary's GOP Rivals Line Up for Adelson's Cash

April 28, 2015

"If this was any person but Hillary Clinton," Newt Gingrich said Sunday of foreign donations to the Clintons' global charity, "they'd be under indictment right now for a clearly straightforward problem." Coming from the former Speaker of the House, that statement was a doubly ironic. After all, Gingrich was never indicted for the transparent scams at GOPAC, the political action committee over which Newt was forced to pay $300,000 in fines to the House Ethics Committee. More damning still, Gingrich's own 2012 presidential campaign was essentially underwritten by a single man--Sheldon Adelson--determined to buy both the U.S. and Israeli governments.
In Las Vegas this weekend, many of the GOP White House hopefuls spoke to the spring conference of the Republican Jewish Coalition. But Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and company weren't just there to pledge their fealty to Eretz Israel, but instead to audition for a cash infusion from the $30 billion casino magnate who gave $100 million to GOP candidates in 2012 alone. As he made clear in 2010, the secret to winning Sheldon Adelson's heart is no secret at all:

"I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF ... our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he'll come back-- his hobby is shooting -- and he'll come back and be a sniper for the IDF."
"All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart."

But as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman explained in March ("Is It Sheldon Adelson's World"), Adelson's heart only has room for a very specific version of Israel:

No matter what his agenda, it is troubling that one man, with a willingness and ability to give away giant sums, can now tilt Israeli and American politics his way at the same time.
Israel has much stricter laws on individuals donating to political campaigns, so Adelson got around that in 2007 by founding a free, giveaway newspaper in Israel -- Israel Hayom -- whose sole purpose is to back Netanyahu, attack his enemies in politics and the media, and enforce a far-right political agenda to prevent any Israeli territorial compromise on the West Bank (which, in time, could undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy). Graphically attractive, Israel Hayom is now the biggest-circulation daily in Israel. Precisely because it is free, it is putting a heavy strain on competitors, like Yediot and Haaretz, which both charge and are not pro-Netanyahu.

Adelson didn't stop there. The American casino mogul then bought Makor Rishon, the leading newspaper of Israel's religious-nationalist right previously supportive of Bibi's rival, Naftali Bennett. As Friedman also recounted:

The Washington Post said that last November at a conference of the Israel American Council, a lobbying group Adelson has funded, he joked in a public discussion with a wealthy Israeli: "Why don't you and I go after The New York Times?" Told it was family owned, Adelson quipped, "There is only one way to fight it: money." At this same conference Adelson was quoted as saying that Israel would not be able to survive as a democracy: "So Israel won't be a democratic state," he added. "So what?"

That cavalier attitude apparently applies to American democracy as well. This weekend, the Republican contenders competed in the "Adelson Primary" with the sole objective of securing tens of millions of dollars. To win it, all they need to do is promise to blow up the Iranian nuclear deal, oppose a two-state solution and remember to never, ever refer to the West Bank as "the occupied territories." And for that $20 million deposit in your Super PAC, you just need to say things like

"Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people, and they had the chance to go many places."

For lines like that, Newt Gingrich got about 15 million Sheldon bucks, not to fight malaria or AIDS, but to bankroll his failed run during the GOP primaries four years ago. And a consolation prize, Newt got a seat with the Adelsons as Benjamin Netanyahu used the Congressional stage to undermine the foreign policy of the President of the United States.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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