‘There’s now a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats’ — Adelson

on 24 Comments

Sheldon Adelson in the Wall Street Journal sees the same trend we’ve been pointing out for years: the leftwing base is getting educated on Israel and doesn’t like the special relationship. He was alarmed by the floor demonstration at the Democratic Convention when party leaders railroaded a platform plank calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Adelson: 

So why did I leave the party? …[T]he truth is the Democratic Party has changed in ways that no longer fit with someone of my upbringing.

One obvious example is the party’s new attitude toward Israel. A sobering Gallup poll from last March asked: “Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region. By contrast, an overwhelming 78% of Republicans sympathized with Israel.

Nowhere was this change in Democratic sympathies more evident than in the chilling reaction on the floor of the Democratic convention in September when the question of Israel’s capital came up for a vote. Anyone who witnessed the delegates’ angry screaming and fist-shaking could see that far more is going on in the Democratic Party than mere opposition to citing Jerusalem in their platform. There is now a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats, a disturbing development that my parents’ generation would not have ignored.

I’ve often said that Israel is the royal road to neoconservatism. Adelson left the Democrats for the same reason Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz turned on the party (back in the 70s)– not strong enough on Israel.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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24 Responses

  1. douglasreed
    November 6, 2012, 5:57 pm

    Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul, and the current Israeli government make good bedfellows, as did Netanyahu and Mubarak. They are all cut from the same cloth but that cloth is now torn and full of holes.

    In the 21st century, we are no longer prepared to accept neo-colonialism or Zionist imperialism. There are 5 million Palestinians who are still under the heel of this military regime that still holds thousands of political prisoners without trial. Gaza with its 1.6 million Arabs is now under its 6th year of an illegitimate blockade that seeks to effect a regime change under the pretext of stopping the importation of weapons. This from a secret nuclear state that is estimated to have a nuclear arsenal of up to 400 nuclear warheads all hidden from the UN’s IAEA inspectorate. This is the state that imports millions of dollars worth of weaponry every year. This is the state that offers financial inducements to its citizens to leave their homes in Israel and settle illegally on Arab land in order to frustrate the will of the UN in the establishment of a Palestinian state for the oldest and largest indigenous people of the region.

    This is the state that claims, tongue in cheek, to be the only democracy in the Middle East! I think that the Democratic Party is well rid of Mr Adelson.

    • MRW
      November 6, 2012, 8:21 pm

      Nevada, and Clark County (Las Vegas) in particular, used to be a red state. Now it’s light blue, trending blue. Maybe Adelson will move to Macao.

  2. pipistro
    November 6, 2012, 6:13 pm

    “Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region” … “a disturbing development that my parents’ generation would not have ignored.”

    I wonder what his parents’ generation would do, ethnic-cleanse the Democrats? This dude seems a sack of money crowned with a cloud of nonsense. Isn’t it time to separate different concepts? I mean, this is sick “Israelism”. Nothing to do with Judaism and/or Jewish identity.

    • pabelmont
      November 7, 2012, 9:43 am

      “Anyone who witnessed the delegates’ angry screaming and fist-shaking could see that far more is going on in the Democratic Party than mere opposition to citing Jerusalem in their platform. There is now a visceral anti-Israel movement among rank-and-file Democrats, a disturbing development that my parents’ generation would not have ignored.”

      My take is that the Dems are tired of being pushed around. They may have some anger at Israel itself (human rights concerns, attempt to force USA to go to war with Iran, etc.) but the bigger anger may be at being CONTROLLED by AIPAC/ADELSON/ etc.

      Dems have been in prison. I’m not at all convinced that they sympathize with Gaza — but they share the experience of being cruelly “occupied”.

      • pipistro
        November 7, 2012, 2:10 pm

        The worst has passed, for now. I couldn’t believe it were otherwise…
        Now, about the Democrats, I agree most of them (the aged ones?) don’t inherently sympathize with Palestine cause, but I guess the blame has to be put on their own ignorance and/or disenchantment.
        In this case the “occupied” are as guilty as the occupier, for it seems there is no resistance at all, insofar as understanding the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict is not that complicated. But still it can’t work while, on the one hand, folks will still be willing to gravitate in their chosen prison for laziness and fear to be qualified as anti-semite, and, on the other hand, the mainstream media snuggle into the arms of the Israel Lobby.

  3. Bill in Maryland
    November 6, 2012, 6:16 pm

    Thanks Phil. The divergence between the liberal rank-and-file who, as you say, are getting educated on I/P and losing patience with the “special relationship” and the Democratic Party leadership (e.g. Debbie Wasserman Schultz) who envision Israel and the US as conjoined Siamese twins is fascinating. It is a grassroots movement within the Democratic party. Maybe this will result in migration of the frustrated activist rank-and-file leftward into the open arms of the Justice or the Green Party. The latter party calls for a single, secular democracy in I/P based on equal human rights. (See for example item E.2.h. in the Green Party platform).

    • MRW
      November 6, 2012, 8:18 pm

      I did this quiz on which Presidential candidate “I Side With.” Spent a lot of time doing it, filling out the extra questions and writing in answers. http://www.isidewith.com

      Shocked me to discover I sided 94% with Jill Stein.

      • marc b.
        November 7, 2012, 8:46 am

        Shocked me to discover I sided 94% with Jill Stein.

        so who did you vote for? in ‘progressive’ NE cities like cambridge, MA or burlington, VT, obama carried the vote by a 6-7 to 1 margin, with very little support for alternative candidates. i presume that those results are the consequence of a loathing for romney rather than enthusiasm for obama. but still . . . curious.

      • MRW
        November 7, 2012, 9:17 am

        Obama. I didn’t loathe Romney. I loathed, and feared, his financial and national security/foreign advisers, which he was incapable of assessing properly; ergo, no there, there.

  4. Nevada Ned
    November 6, 2012, 7:38 pm

    Sheldon Adelson grew up without a lot of money, but in recent decades he hasn’t consorted with any rank and file people of any sort. He consorts mainly with his fellow billionaires.

    As others at Mondoweiss point out, Israel isn’t really a democracy, and it got even less democratic recently when the mainstream-conservative newspaper Maariv went bankrupt, trying to compete with Adelson’s Israel HaYom newspaper, a right-wing rag distributed for free (in Hebrew, a language that Adelson doesn’t understand). It’s hard to compete with free product.

    Adelson’s only good side is that he’s surprisingly ineffective politically, consider the astounding sums of money he’s giving away. Ten million dollars to Gingrich? Totally wasted! Etc.

    Adelson donates to ZOA and not AIPAC because AIPAC is not extreme enough for him.

    Adelson has made a LOT of enemies over the years, including business rivals.
    His wealth may allow him to think that he’s immune to the problems of mere mortals. But…Michael Millken went to jail. Martha Stewart went to jail. Ken Lay went to jail. Leona Helmsley went to jail.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    November 6, 2012, 9:03 pm

    RE: “A sobering Gallup poll from last March asked: ‘Are your sympathies more with the Israelis or more with the Palestinians?’ Barely 53% of Democrats chose Israel, the sole liberal democracy in the region.” – an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal supposedly written by Sheldon Adelson

    MY QUESTION/COMMENT: Are we expected to believe that a man like Sheldon Adelson who fiercely opposes labor unions nonetheless supports liberal democracies (one of which is certainly not Likud-run Israel)?
    I wonder who really wrote this propagandistic screed.

    P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION – http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-please-restore-justice-and-pardon-my-dad

    • piotr
      November 6, 2012, 11:57 pm

      This is the problem with Hasbara: money cannot replace the message. Now Netanyahu is back to mongering war with Iran, and the latest argument is — tah dah! — that it will be good for Arabs.

      It reminds me when the state of Nebraska expanded freedoms of the working people about 5 years ago (to non-Americans: it is not a bastion of progress most of the time). Namely, it enacted a law allowing workers to park their vehicles on employers’ parking lots with firearms inside. The analogy is not perfect, because the working class it those parts moves around in pickup trucks that have gun racks in the rear of the cabin, and some employers gave grief to workers that had guns in those racks. So while the Nebraskan concept of the rights of the working people is rather narrow, it at least entails something that those people want.

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2012, 3:59 pm

        Nothing any employee can do for his employer equals the liability he presents when he brings a gun on to your property.

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 11, 2012, 10:53 pm

      P.P.S. RE: “a man like Sheldon Adelson who fiercely opposes labor unions” ~ me (above)

      ELABORATION: Earlier this year, Rick Perlstein referred to “Adelson’s anti-union mania”. And to reiterate, are we are actually expected to believe that Adelson would nonetheless support a “liberal democracy” (in Israel, the U.S., or anywhere else)? Do “they” (the writers of Adelson’s Wall Street Journal op-ed) think we are that stupid and/ or ignorant? Enquiring mimes want to know!

      SEE: “Why GOP Mega-Donor Sheldon Adelson Is Mad, Bad and a Danger to the Republic”, By Rick Perlstein, Rolling Stone, 4/10/12

      [EXCERPT] . . . the Gingrich-Adelson romance was no doubt fueled as well by their shared devotion to crushing labor unions to dust – a passion mentioned only in passing in the 37th paragraph of a 48-paragraph piece [this front-page New York Times profile from January 29]. Indeed, Adelson’s anti-union mania (I would argue) is the most important thing to know about him. For it reveals just how crazy, and how unscrupulous, the man is.
      Let’s start at the very beginning. Adelson remembers meeting Gingrich in Washington in 1995, when Gingrich was House Speaker and Adelson was lobbying to get the U.S. embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Other reports have them being introduced in 1996 by a far-right anti-union operative in Nevada who worked for Adelson. Details of the subsequent courtship are murky, although the huge favor Gingrich did for Adelson in 1996 by turning off a federal investigation of the gambling industry probably did a lot to cement their friendship.
      Two years later, Nevada conservatives sponsored a “Paycheck Protection” ballot initiative – the right-wing term for measures weakening unions by banning them from automatically deducting dues from members’ pay. Adelson was gung-ho for it – and “would spend any amount of money,” D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of Las Vegas’s Culinary Workers Union Local 226, told me; however, the Nevada Republican Party was split over whether to take on the powerful Vegas unions. That was when Gingrich did the anti-labor side a solid, recording a videotaped message in support of the measure at a Nevada GOP dinner at the height of the intra-party civil war. And, in another detail the Times missed, Gingrich also promised to block an IRS proposal to tax meals that casinos provide employees. (An amendment to that effect, costing the U.S. Treasury $316 million, indeed ended up in an IRS reform law.) Soon after, Gingrich enjoyed a fundraiser at the Vegas convention center owned by Adleson. Ah, young love.
      In 1999, Adelson closed one casino, the Sands, and completed work on a new one, the Venetian, stiffing so many contractors that there were at one time 366 liens against the property. Taylor, of the Culinary Workers, said he and his colleagues presumed that “like every other casino that had done that, workers in the [closed] hotel would be given priority when the [new] hotel was built.” Instead, Adelson refused even to talk. All this, in a union town like Vegas, was unprecedented. “Even when you’re having battles, you continue to have talks. Shit, we’re talking to the North Koreans right now!” he told me. “The Israelis talk to the Arabs. Talking doesn’t necessarily solve anything, but at least you understand the other guy’s position.” Adelson, not much interested in understanding the other guy’s position, proceeded to launch a campaign against the Culinary Workers that Taylor calls “beyond aggressive.”
      Right before the grand opening of the Venetian, in 1999, the Culinary Workers staged a demonstration on the public sidewalk out front. Adelson told the cops to start making arrests; the cops refused. Glen Arnodo, an official at the union at the time, relates what happened next: “I was standing on the sidewalk and they had two security guards say I was on private property, and if I didn’t move they’d have to put me under ‘citizen’s arrest.’ I ignored them.” The guards once again told the police to arrest Arnodo and again, he says, they refused. The Civil Rights hero Rep. John Lewis, in town to support the rally, said the whole thing reminded him of living in the South during Jim Crow.
      Marvels Arnodo, “Here you have a sidewalk that 12 billion people walk down, [and] the only people who can’t use it are the union!” The Culinary Workers argued before the National Labor Relations Board that Adelson’s attempts to keep them from demonstrating violated federal labor law. Adelson’s lawyers countered that their client’s First Amendment rights were being violated – because his threats of arrests were an instance of “petitioning the government.” The union won the right to protest; Adelson refused to comply with the settlement, copies of which the union passed out on that very same sidewalk. That was “fraudulent use of the seal of a government agency,” the Venetian argued, further claiming that union workers had “impersonated” NLRB officials, and that the volunteer labor activists had been coerced. The great civil liberties attorney Alan Dershowitz got involved – on Adelson’s side. “The Venetian has no property rights to the sidewalk,” a federal appeals judge told them in 2007. Unmoved, Adelson tried, without success, to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court. After all, Adelson told the Wall Street Journal, radical Islam and the right to more easily join a union were the two most “fundamental threats to society.”
      Did I mention Adelson is nuts? But don’t take my word for it – it was George W. Bush who called him “some crazy Jewish billionaire.” . . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/why-gop-mega-donor-sheldon-adelson-is-mad-bad-and-a-danger-to-the-republic-20120410

    • DICKERSON3870
      November 12, 2012, 12:34 am

      P.P.P.S. ANOTHER QUESTION/COMMENT: Are we also expected to believe that a man like Sheldon Adelson – who complained (jokingly, or not) about how much of Jewish men’s money is spent by their Jewish wives* – would nonetheless support a “liberal democracy”? Again, I wonder who really wrote Adelson’s propagandistic screed in the Wall Street Journal.

      * SEE: “Mr. Adelson, how do you think your money was spent?”
      LINK – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/mr-adelson-how-do-you-think-your-money-was-spent.html

  6. southernobserver
    November 6, 2012, 10:35 pm

    Again, it is neither the ‘sole, nor democratic, nor liberal. As a whole it is rather an exemplar of the opposite.

    Actually, given the recent evidence of thought surveillance, I now question even whether it is any of these things even for jews.

  7. piotr
    November 6, 2012, 11:48 pm

    When I read complaints of people like Adelson or Geller, I wish they were true. But perhaps indeed there is a brewing revolt against establishment. Americans are against settlements but they are not really aware what is going on. If Romney can REPEAT that Syria is “Iran’s route to the sea” without being laughed at in a major way, you can see that betting on public apathy and ignorance is not an automatic looser. But wherever Iran is, the public did not crave yet another war.

    Ah, Boteach lost 25% to 75%. You can be too Zionist and too crazy. Obama may win Florida: Jews voted 66% for him, which is a bit low, but “my people” gave him 74% of the vote (what was wrong with the other 26%?). Strangely enough, exit polls gave exact balance if you take into account major race groups: White, Black, Latinos. But there is also 3% of “Other”, and Other voted quite lopsidedly for Obama. Other can be South and East Asians, Amerindians and Pacific Islanders. Not a fertile ground for the Zionist message.


  8. pabelmont
    November 7, 2012, 9:51 am

    Amazing that only “53% of Democrats chose Israel,” (whatever either “53%” or “chose Israel” may mean), especially in this awful American world of corporate-owned (and largely hard-line pro-Israel) media.

    The anger among dem Dems (delegates and one hopes elected officials as well) augurs well for more “speaking truth to power” from serious Democratic politicians. Barbara Lee and her pals may grow into a movement. One can always hope — and work.

  9. seafoid
    November 7, 2012, 11:38 am

    Why would women in Michigan, for example, have any sympathy for Zionism, especially when the US is undergoing a brutal recession ?

    Someone under 30 who works in the car industry in the rust Belt at half the hourly pay of the older workers – what is Israel going to do to change his life ?

    Someone in Nevada underwater with mortgage debt – what is a war in Iran going to do for her?

    What does Israel have to offer anyone in the US ?

  10. LanceThruster
    November 7, 2012, 3:07 pm

    Hey Sheldon!

    Imagine how I feel having most the US leadership and media eternally genuflecting in the direction of Israel. The worst parts being the chronic misinformation, the bullying of saner voices, and the endless checks written in US blood and treasure for the sake of an apartheid nation that has such a sense of entitlement. We are not joined at the hip (more like we’re struggling under the burden of carrying said nation upon our shoulders).

    May I also ask why your support does not include moving there to do your part in the continuation and prospering of this Middle Eastern paradise?

    I don’t know what we’d do without you but I’d sure like to find out.

  11. Woody Tanaka
    November 7, 2012, 6:15 pm

    It’s depressing that it’s even as high as 56%. Frankly, given the fascistic way it’s treated the non-Jewish population it has held stateless without giving it either independent or the vote, the fact that 56% of the supposedly “liberal” party still support it is abominable.

  12. chris o
    November 8, 2012, 12:56 am

    It is quite manipulative (shock) and mathematically illiterate to point to the 53% figure as something supposedly showing Democratic antipathy to Israel. I don’t have the exact numbers but it is clear that by about a 7 to 3 ratio, Democrats’ sympathies lie with Israelis over Palestinians. That is no small feat considering the relative status of the parties. It is fair to say, based on an earlier Gallup Poll, that the remaining 47% is about evenly divided between sympathy for either Palestinians or for neither/both. So the total comes to 53% to Israelis vs. 23% for Palestinians. A poll of the world would probably be about 85 to 10 in favor of Palestinians. So he cites evidence of loyalty to Israel and the forsaking of Palestinians as being the opposite of what it is.

    The other absurd thing is him pointing to the incident at the Democratic convention related to the platform. He acts like he saw anti-Semitism in the anger of the people on the floor. They had reason to be angry but not because they are anti-Semites. It’s because the party leadership, showing steadfast loyalty to the Israeli lobby,- rammed a resolution through claiming 2/3 present were in favor, when that was obviously not the case.

  13. hophmi
    November 8, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Well, unfortunately, this is what happens when you play “enemy of my enemy is my friend” games.

    Adelson’s opinion is nonsense. It is far from clear that the shouting on the floor of the DNC had anything to do with Israel or reflected the will of the party rank-and-file; the convention hall was half full, and these were likely the die-hards, and the amendment included religious language that could just as well have been the culprit. Adelson’s article is merely GOP agitprop.

    That “only” 53% of Democrats expressed a preference for Israel over the Palestinians is not news; nor is it proof of an anti-Israel movement. It shows a slightly increased disengagement; evidence of an anti-Israel movement would be the expression of a preference for the Palestinians.

    The fact of the matter is that support for Israel is near an all-time high in the United States. In 2012, the Gallup favorable/unfavorable poll was 71/24 in Israel’s favor, the best ratio at any time in the last 25 years except for 1991, when the poll was taken in the middle of the Gulf War. The PA’s ratio was 19/72, about the same as it’s been since 2000. 61% of Americans sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, again, the highest number since the Gulf War.

    The number of Americans opposing a Palestinian state is at its highest level ever, 37%.

    It would be wrong to read these numbers as showing one party favors Israel. Both do. One is slightly more monochromatic about it, not because of the Jews, but because of the Christian evangelicals.


    • Woody Tanaka
      November 8, 2012, 5:07 pm

      “It is far from clear that the shouting on the floor of the DNC had anything to do with Israel or reflected the will of the party rank-and-file”

      Sure. Keep telling yourself that. Face the facts, hoppy. The Democratic party has, within its coalitions, people who are opposed to fascist government oppressing innocent people. And while, for too long, there was an uspoken asterisk for israeli, for the sake of not ruffling feathers, the fact that, regarding israel, the fascists are Jews or “allies” or in a “democracy” or because of some religious talk, is starting to not matter any more. The israelis are oppressive fascists. Anyone who even pretends to be progressive or liberal should be opposed them. That even 53% would favor that vile, bigoted government is an indictment.

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