All eyes are on Sheldon Adelson, and even Trump courts him with Israel rant

US Politics
on 11 Comments

The big story as the Nevada Republican caucuses take place is, What is Sheldon Adelson is up to? Where’s the $100 million he spent against President Obama in the last election cycle? Who will be his horse in this race? A spate of recent reports pose these questions without any definitive answers, except to say that: Adelson appears to be sitting on the sideline so far; or he is for Marco Rubio but his wife Miriam Adelson likes Ted Cruz; or he got burned the last time by his pratfalls with Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney; or that he is secretly pouring money into the Rubio campaign through a political action committee.

One good thing about all this coverage is that it baldly states that Adelson cares most about Israel. The press used to prevaricate about that factoid, even as Adelson was calling on the president to nuke Iran and saying he wished he’d served in the Israeli army, not the U.S. one.

The Wall Street Journal says that Adelson has been laying low in Vegas, and not meeting the candidates, as he usually does. But Rubio keeps up the patter:

Aboard his campaign plane Monday night, Mr. Rubio said he speaks regularly with Mr. Adelson but won’t meet with him during his Nevada campaign swing. “We talk to him quite a bit on the phone and different things like that,” Mr. Rubio said Monday. “I won’t see him tonight or tomorrow, but we’ve got a longstanding relationship and friendship. And I’m sure we’ll continue to communicate. He’s interested in politics beyond southern Nevada.”

The Guardian reports that even Trump is performing courtship rituals. But meantime Rubio and Cruz are scampering after Adelson and talking up Israel.

[Rubio] and Adelson met frequently last year including dining in Washington ahead of Netanyahu’s highly controversial address to Congress which he used to attack Obama’s negotiations with Iran.

Ted Cruz, the deeply conservative Texas senator, is also in the frame for Adelson’s backing, in part because he was at the forefront of Senate opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Donald Trump, the only candidate who doesn’t need his money, who won in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and is ahead in the polls in Nevada, has tried to woo Adelson by promising that no other candidate “will be a bigger friend to Israel”.

Jon Ralston, the Nevada political expert, tells the Guardian’s Chris McGreal that Adelson “wants to be with someone who can win a general. He likes Rubio, but he wants to see if Rubio can win.” Something Rubio hasn’t done so far. The Guardian notes, “It is considered unlikely Trump will win the fellow billionaire’s backing, at least until the primaries are settled.” And it reports that Bernie Sanders lately attacked Adelson for his billionaire influence, but apparently left out the Israel agenda. Not a surprise.

Politico has a long story on the Adelson primary, raising the possibility that Adelson is already in for Rubio and we don’t know it because Adelson doesn’t want the attention after his very public failure in 2012. Kenneth Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf report:

Most of Trump’s remaining rivals for the GOP nomination have flown to Las Vegas to woo the Adelsons, and sources say Rubio continues to call Sheldon Adelson with regular campaign updates.

An Adelson endorsement of Rubio and a huge super PAC check had been expected as far back as October.

“If you had told me months ago that he would not have made a major play in the presidential race by this point, I would have been shocked,” said a Republican fundraiser who has met with Adelson.

Rival campaigns speculate that Adelson may have quietly funneled millions into a non-profit group supporting Rubio that isn’t required to disclose its donors. The group, Conservative Solutions Project, has aired at least $7.1 million worth of ads supporting Rubio, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. Conservative Solutions wouldn’t comment on its donors, but sources who work with Adelson insist he hasn’t donated any big money ― disclosed or otherwise ― to groups playing in the presidential race.

Gawker has nothing to add to that speculation, though its headline is cute: “We Need to Talk about Sheldon.”

On to the Trump news. It would seem Trump’s interest is to keep Adelson on the fence so that no clear rival to his domination emerges. That means saying nice things about Israel so that Adelson doesn’t feel the need to stop him.

Maybe just a coincidence, but Jewish Insider (from which I’ve gotten several links for this story) got an interview with Donald Trump’s national political director Michael Glassner, a dedicated Zionist who worked for George W. Bush’s campaign and has spent the last few years running the American Israel Political Affairs Committee’s southwest branch. That’s AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby. Glassner says Trump is committed to preserving the special relationship with Israel, notwithstanding some of the cold water he’s thrown on that love affair. Glassner:

He has said, in general, that he recognizes that Israel is our top ally and he will do everything in his power to protect Israel. He said that, and I think he will continue to say that publicly.

Jewish Insider also reported on a Trump appearance on Sean Hannity’s show yesterday. Here’s Trump’s protest that he loves Israel:

I have so many friends, Jewish friends, and they have supported Obama, and they are so disgusted. They can’t understand what happened; what went wrong. I think that President Obama has been the worst thing that has ever happened to Israel — the worst thing. I don’t understand it. And Netanyahu — a good guy…

I am a great friend of Israel. I was the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade… I have so many friends. In fact one of them, one of my great friends — where is Jared, my son-in-law? Where is he? My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic — a very successful guy in the New York real estate…. So, there is nobody closer — and Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him, for his campaign. I did a commercial for him.

Bear in mind that Adelson is very close to Netanyahu.

At the Jewish Journal, Shmuel Rosner counsels friends of Israel not to worry about Trump’s vow of neutrality in the conflict, issued during several recent appearances. Trump won’t be neutral, Rosner says.

I think Israel should be nervous about a Trump presidency for many reasons – one of them is the unpredictable nature of his policies. But is it likely that Trump will side with the Palestinians and pressure Israel into making concessions that will put its security in danger?

To put it another way: what’s more likely, that Trump was just blabbering his way through a question for which he did not have a handy and articulate answer – or that he prepares to follow the Obama-Kerry script and pressure Israel into compromise?

About Philip Weiss

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

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11 Responses

  1. a blah chick
    February 23, 2016, 1:14 pm

    I think Sheld’n (Odd Couple reference there) wants to capture the magic he has in THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE MIDDLE EAST (TM). Trouble is it’s a lot easier being a big fish in a little pond like Israel than in a big country like the US. Here he’s in competition with other people who have as much money as him and the same pissy attitude. He can dominate on the local level but he’s going to have to team up with other oligarchs to have an effect nationally. Remember how he and Saban were going to cooperate in that crazy anti-BDS college organization? Then Saban left, probably because he found it too hard to work with the man. Sheld’n does not seem to play well with others. He should just stick with Butcher Bibi, who by the way, is apparently trying to bring casinos to Israel.

    I’m sure Sheld’n has nothing to do with that.

  2. eljay
    February 23, 2016, 1:42 pm

    … Donald Trump … has tried to woo Adelson by promising that no other candidate “will be a bigger friend to Israel”. …

    If that doesn’t spell “neutral”, I don’t know what does.

    • eljay
      February 23, 2016, 1:54 pm

      Hey, Donald, are you going to be neutral on the I-P issue?

      “I am a great friend of Israel. I was the Grand Marshal of the Israeli Day Parade… I have so many friends. In fact one of them, one of my great friends — where is Jared, my son-in-law? Where is he? My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic … So, there is nobody closer — and Bibi Netanyahu asked me to do a commercial for him, for his campaign. I did a commercial for him.”

      Okay, so, you love Israel and you’re happy to anti-Semitically conflate Israel with Jews and Jews with Israel. What about the Palestinians?

      “People are born with hatred, they’re taught hatred. And I have to say, it’s mostly on the one side, not on the other side. But they’re taught hatred.”

      Ah, I see. So, basically, there’s not a hope in hell you’ll be neutral.

      “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

  3. Krauss
    February 23, 2016, 4:35 pm

    There was never a way that Trump, who has surrounded himself with Jews in his private, public and work life, was ever going to be pro-Palestinian. What might happen instead is that he’ll basically ignore the region and focus on trade wars with Mexico, China and pushing the Europeans to (finally) pay for their own defence since they have more than the means to do it.

    He’ll never be as bad as either Clinton or Rubio. My guess is that his instinct is essentially a realist, but if you’re of his age, you’ve spent your life in Manhattan and in real estate, there’s no way your social circle isn’t very, very heavily Jewish and that kind of social influence matters.

    I always try to remind people: yes, the money from the Israel lobby matters, but don’t forget the sociological part. Jews are melded into the white establishment, whether it’s Clinton or Trump. The old dividing lines have long since melted down. Palestinians are still isolated and on the outside. Being (mostly) muslims don’t help them either in these times. Access matters. Familiarity matters. Relationships matters.

    Trump is obviously very comfortable around Jews. Given his rhetoric on muslims, why would anyone assume he’d be pro-Palestinian?

  4. kalithea
    February 23, 2016, 8:45 pm

    So then the whole Trump neutrality on Israel was a red-herring…

    Why don’t we just quit with the speculation and admit that no candidate in this race is without Zionist influence, therefore, none will have a positive effect on the Palestinian issue, because this crop of candidates is even worse than the one in 2008; if that was even possible, and yep; it is!

    Whichever candidate wins, there is no good outcome with this election for the Palestinian cause for justice, although, maybe a Sanders victory might be the least painful for the cause of justice overall.

    I just want to remind Hillarybots that Morgan Feeman is not really God.

    So Hillary will not be walking on water any time soon and neither will she do the cake walk to the White House.

    Spike Lee’s endorsement of Sanders could still usher a meaningful turnaround for Bernie if only Lee would give Sanders a creative boost. Maybe a “Do the Right Thing” video ad will inspire Sanders to say the right thing in regards to injustice anywhere and to recognize the right of all people to resist oppression and to demand their human rights!

  5. SonofDaffyDuck
    February 24, 2016, 11:10 am

    Why shouldn’t Adelson and like-minded push directly for the one candidate who embodies all the Republican values and could undoubtedly win as well as carry out Adelson’s agenda?

    —Graduate of MIT and a student at Harvard;

    —Staunch Republican supporter and lifetime personal friend of last Nominee;

    —Politician enjoying vast and deep support among evangelical Christians;

    —Darling of FOX news;

    —Proven Uniter of Democrats and Republicans. Record of unanimous or near unanimous legislative support for his programs in States as well as Nationally;

    —Politician with ready access to advice from dedicated Republican operatives among his staff;

    —Most popular orator before the American Congress. Elicits dozens of standing ovations every time he speaks;

    —Candidate able to tap Potential bottomless pool of campaign support from like-minded Billionaire donors dedicated to his cause(like Adelson);

    —Dominant actor in relationship with the new Democratic leader in the Senate;

    —Personage unmatched by any other Republican candidate in his contempt for Obama and his administration;

    —Proven track record of developing barrier walls to exclude immigrants and “undesirables;”

    —Politician with Extensive military experience, including elimination of alleged “terrorists” and their families..both at home and abroad;

    — Personage who exceeds Trump as developer of vast Real estate projects using extensive application of “eminent domain”to remove inhabitants for the “Common Good.”

    —Unlike Ted Cruz, has been an American citizen, not once, but twice.

    How could any of the present crop beat him?!

    • kalithea
      February 24, 2016, 2:51 pm

      Hold on…did I mistakenly stumble onto Drudge or RedState? Pheew! for a moment there, reading your post, I thought I entered the Red Zone.

      Oh and you forgot to mention the most important pre-requisite: Absolute loyalty to Zionist Supremacy.

      • SonofDaffyDuck
        February 24, 2016, 6:09 pm

        I guess I should have named him. First initial is…like…”B”. Last name starts with a…well, I’m sure you have figured it out by now.

  6. Misterioso
    February 24, 2016, 11:40 am

    Meanwhile:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alon-benmeir/a-plea-for-reason-an-open_b_9299400.html

    “Dear Netanyahu: Radical Zionists Like You Cannot Survive”

    Huffington Post, Feb. 24/16, by Alon Ben-Meir, Senior Fellow, Center for Global Affairs, NYU

    “A Plea For Reason: An Open Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu”

    EXCERPT:

    “Demographically, the country is facing a grave danger. The number of Israelis emigrating from Israel is roughly equal to the number of those who immigrate to Israel. Nearly one million Israelis, representing 13 percent of the population, emigrated from Israel in the past 20 years. Several polls consistently show that given the opportunity, 30 percent of Israelis would consider leaving the country, mainly for economic reasons and the lack of a prospect of ending the debilitating conflict with the Palestinians.

    “In particular, the immigration of young American and European Jews to Israel is consistently trending downward. Many of them have lost the sense of pioneering spirit and excitement that gripped their earlier counterparts who wanted to be a part of a historic enterprise unmatched by any in contemporary human experience.”

  7. James Canning
    February 24, 2016, 1:10 pm

    May one hope that Trump can comprehend Israel undermines the national security interests of the US, its to some extent its own national interests, by growing the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank?

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