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Washington Post front page: Adelson demanded that Romney ‘join him in steadfast support of Israel’

on 18 Comments

On its front page today, the Washington Post has a personality profile of Sheldon Adelson that follows the money, and dispenses with the usual horse-manure that Adelson thinks Romney will be better on labor issues in his casinos. Nope, it’s all about Israel, and they cut the deal last spring. Just what we’ve been saying. Here’s the lead, by Marc Fisher:

When casino magnate Sheldon Adelson switched his support from Newt Gingrich to Mitt Romney during the spring primaries, the billionaire and the candidate were eager to shed their skepticism of each other. If Adelson was going to give a political campaign more money than anyone ever had, he wanted to be certain Romney would join him in steadfast support of Israel. And Romney, according to friends of both, sought assurance that Adelson wouldn’t embarrass him.

Since then, Adelson has joined Romney during the candidate’s visit to Israel this summer, attended presidential debates and gotten together with Romney so often that their wives have become friends, according to confidants of the two men.

There’s a lot in this piece about motivation, and ethnic resentment, and Israel being at the heart of that motivation:

Adelson is driven by the idea of Israel as a muscular riposte to the Holocaust. Based on his experience as a Jewish kid who would get insulted and roughed up in a tough Boston neighborhood, Adelson believes Jewish Americans should back an Israel that puts security first and resists compromise with Arabs who do not accept its existence.

“Israel is at the core of everything he does,” says Fred Zeidman, a friend of Adelson, fellow Romney backer and former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

And Fisher links it with generational Jewish identity issues, involving the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in the U.S.:

As World War II raged across the ocean, in a neighborhood of south Boston that was home to more Jews than any American city outside New York, kids like Sheldon Adelson learned that being a Jew in America both put a target on their backs and gave them a blessed refuge.

Like other Jewish teens in Dorchester, young Sheldon was occasionally beaten up by Irish kids full of anti-Semitic vinegar. Yet he knew that millions of other Jews faced vastly worse enemies in Europe….

More about how deep/ancestral this ideology is:

When Adelson first visited the Holy Land, he wore his father’s shoes as he stepped off the plane so something of his father’s would be the first to touch the ground.

Oh, and Israel led him to leave the Democratic Party. Just as the neocons did in the 1970s. They’re pro-choice, pro-Israel. And which comes first?

Well into adulthood, he was a Democrat, making large donations to the party until 1996. The next year, he switched to the GOP.

“As Jews in Boston, no one voted Republican, because the Republicans were the establishment,” Leven says. “But Sheldon saw the Democrats becoming less passionate about Israel.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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18 Responses

  1. Betsy on October 24, 2012, 3:03 pm

    This is an interesting article. I was struck by oppositions it sets up.

    For instance, it says “he has also undergone a political conversion, from a Massachusetts Democrat who considered Republicans to be the establishment that resisted newcomers like him, to a Nevada Republican who believes that his former party coddles the idle and has fallen captive to identity politics.”

    It says ” his pattern of giving supports both his own business interests and more selfless pursuits” (such as ” $100 million he has given to Birthright Israel”) & medical research.

    So, economic class is separated from identity politics and from ‘altruism’. What bothers me about these oppositions, is that it doesn’t show the parallels & connections between class & identity politics — blurring ways in which his upward mobility was similar to other immigrant groups, who suffered from ethnic marginalization & stigmatization (identity politics) that was all tied in with competition for scarce jobs & neighborhoods. Why were those “Irish” kids beating him up? Well, I lived in Boston & suburbs as a kid — the ‘ethnic’ labels on people & places — were tied in complex ways to the economics of class struggle in Boston. I would say the “IRish” kids were taking in lessons from their parents who were casting *their* struggles with WASP ‘establishment’ in partially ethnic terms. So, then, isn’t Adelson in similar way passing on the hurt & stigmas to the “Arabs” threatening Israel? The WashPo writer obscures race by speaking of ‘identity politics’ in last 2 decades — isn’t that really about African Americans & gays & women? So, isn’t there a parallel between Jewish immigrant & Irish kids struggling to move up the ladder & other folks whose ‘identity’ labels have marginalized them in multiple ways.

    So much of what is described as “Jewish” experience sounds to me as typical *American* experience of immigrants & other marginalized groups moving into the center — What worries me, are narratives & frames that make the “Jewish” experience seem exceptional & which puts ‘identity’ into a separate realm from economic issues. (Or, is this a topic that violates the new standards for comments? :))

  2. W.Jones on October 24, 2012, 3:34 pm

    You meant to say I think “him to leave the DEMOCRATIC party” (you wrote the Republican party)

  3. Krauss on October 24, 2012, 4:20 pm

    This is a terrific article, part of the reason why come to this site. Great catch, even better analysis of the piece. But I am confused:

    Talking about Jewish culture/history is supposed to be offlimits by now according to the new commenting rules(yet what is the Holocaust and the cultural aftereffects it has had on the Jewish psyche, for some, so vividly in display on Mr. Adelson?) It’s a classic example of how parts of this issue is driven by culture and not by greed, accidents or “imperialism”. It’s driven by Jewish fear for many on the neocon right.

    This piece clearly shows it, and great analysis to boot, but how can we debate it when we aren’t even allowed to broach the subject? Or are we? Very confusing.

    • Mooser on October 24, 2012, 6:23 pm

      “It’s driven by Jewish fear for many on the neocon right.”

      It’s very important that everyone understand that Jewish tradition forbids, heck, it outright prevents saying anything which isn’t strictly true. Self-interested speech, compartmentalisation, special pleading, let alone, outright prevarication for advantage are unknown among us.

  4. Shmuel on October 24, 2012, 4:40 pm

    “Israel is at the core of everything he does,” says Fred Zeidman

    He doesn’t live in Israel, and he doesn’t do business in Israel. Other than that, it’s at the core of everything he does.

    • MRW on October 25, 2012, 8:13 am

      re, Shmuel:

      Do his eight ex-Mossad bodyguards count?

      • Shmuel on October 25, 2012, 8:43 am

        Do his eight ex-Mossad bodyguards count?

        As what? Living in Israel or doing business there?

  5. DICKERSON3870 on October 24, 2012, 5:42 pm

    RE: “Adelson is driven by the idea of Israel as a muscular riposte to the Holocaust. Based on his experience as a Jewish kid who would get insulted and roughed up in a tough Boston neighborhood . . .” ~ the Washington Post

    PETER GABRIEL, 1992:

    Something in me, dark and sticky
    All the time it’s getting strong
    No way of dealing with this feeling
    Can’t go on like this too long

    This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
    I told you [x4]
    This time you’ve gone too far [x3]
    I told you [x4]

    Don’t talk back
    Just drive the car
    Shut your mouth
    I know what you are
    Don’t say nothing
    Keep your hands on the wheel
    Don’t turn around
    This is for real
    Digging in the dirt
    Stay with me, I need support
    I’m digging in the dirt
    To find the places I got hurt

    Open up the places I got hurt . . .

    Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt [VIDEO, 05:30] –

    • DICKERSON3870 on October 24, 2012, 6:02 pm

      P.S. Being 5’6″ tall myself, I feel pretty confident in saying that 5’5″ Sheldon Adelson would have been “insulted and roughed up” in a tough Boston neighborhood even if his family had come over on the Mayflower! Having said that, I imagine plenty of Jewish boys of average and above height were probably “insulted and roughed up” in tough Boston neighborhoods for no reason other than that they were Jewish.

      • on October 25, 2012, 8:56 am

        As were many boys in tough boston neighborhoods because they were Italian, or protestant, or Cape Verdean, or German, or short, or shy, or whatever.

        The idea that jews have faced more discrimination in American than any other white ethnic group has no basis in fact. It is purely subjective, an embracing of a narrative of victimhood

      • DICKERSON3870 on October 26, 2012, 10:07 pm

        P.P.S. And then there are the poor lads (“wee men”) with names like Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch! Their families had best have enough financial resources to live in a gated community and send young Benedict to a private, fairly exclusive “prep school”. Names like that are tantamount to hanging a big sign around his neck beseeching the working class lads to “please beat the living hell out of this boy”.

        ● Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch –


  6. Abierno on October 24, 2012, 6:39 pm

    The Israel he lives in is the mythical shining city on the hill, bearing little relation to the country inhabited by actual residents of Israel. One can predict he will be doing considerable business in Israel when the Knesset legalizes casinos and gambling.

  7. Henry Norr on October 24, 2012, 7:33 pm

    Interesting piece, but, at least when I lived in Dorchester, author Marc Fisher would have gotten his ass kicked for calling it “a neighborhood of south Boston”! And he’d probably get an even nastier response to that line if he took it to Southie.

    BTW, the Boston Globe also ran a pretty good profile of Adelson last spring:

  8. Nevada Ned on October 25, 2012, 12:08 am

    Adelson gave $5 million to support Newt Gingrich, who lost in the Republican primaries.
    Adelson is now supporting Romney, who will very likely lose Nevada, and probably lose nationally as well.
    Adelson gave only $1000 to Danny Tarkanian (son of the famous basketball coach), who is running for Congress. (A thousand dollars from Adelson is insultingly low.)
    Adelson gave $500,000 to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who is running for Congress from New Jersey. Boteach will probably lose.
    Adelson is supporting Dean Heller for US Senate from Nevada (appointed to replace John Ensign). Heller is running against Democrat Shelly Berkley, currently a Congressional representative from Nevada (and Israeli super-hawk). In a surprise, Heller is favored.

    Important take-home lesson: Adelson’s candidates usually lose.

  9. traintosiberia on October 25, 2012, 9:30 am

    Will Dinseh D Souza now write a book on persecution of Romeny’s religion as an explanation of money-based symbiotic relation to Adelson who is destroying what democratic values are still left in the US system. Only a “rage” can explain it. I bring it up for the reference to the Boston experiences of Adelson as a kid for this kind of pseudo-legal anti American activities in WaPo. There have been explanations whirling around too long among the Conservative circle that Obama is a secret muslim or an Indonesian or a communist or a anti white 3rd world sympathizers for his experineces of growing up with a Kenyan father in a a muslim land.Sometime this explanation has taken a psychobabble form that Obama is fulfilling the dreams of his father who was absent from his childhood. Either way a vicarious experience is being touted to demonize Obama while an experinence in South Boston that is common to any Blacks or Latinos and now to a lot of Brown in a lot of neighbourhood is being elevated to a level of holocaust uniquely for a man who sees US as nothing but doormat to enter the Zion.

  10. on October 25, 2012, 9:56 am

    “Israel as a muscular riposte to the Holocaust”
    If it were it would be okay – but it isn’t.
    If Adelson were as deluded about his business as he is about Israel
    he would have long been broke.

  11. Mac on October 26, 2012, 11:49 am

    Great post Betsy. I strongly agree with all your arguments.

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