People are talking about Jodi Rudoren’s report on a lunch with Sheldon Adelson at the Jerusalem convention center where he was honored and then went on a rant against Palestinians as murderous. See below that Adelson’s former water-carrier, Mitt Romney, echoed these ideas during the presidential campaign last year.
This is a great reminder of the sort of hateful statements that are utterly acceptable in the US political discourse, though hopefully Rudoren’s report will change that:
[Adelson] trashed the prospects for peace with the Palestinians. He tried to school American reporters on the history of the Middle East. And he denounced as “stupid” people who criticize Birthright Israel, a program that has brought 400,000 young Jews here over 13 years, much of it on his dime.
“It’s the cement that connects one generation of Jews to the next,” he said of the program, to which he has donated $180 million since 2007. “Without Birthright, in two or three more generations, there won’t be any more Jews in the United States.”
Asked about Secretary of State John Kerry’s plan to infuse as much as $4 billion into the economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, much of it to build tourism, Mr. Adelson responded, “Why would I want to invest money with people who want to kill my people?”
“How can you move a ball forward when the Israelis legitimately want peace and the Palestinians want Israel piece by piece?” he said of Mr. Kerry’s broader effort to revive the stalemated peace process. “Have you ever heard any Palestinian say, ‘We have to give up our hope of destroying Israel in favor of living in peace.’ ?”…
As for the Palestinians, Mr. Adelson said, “They teach their children that Jews are descended from swine and apes, pigs and monkeys.” Then he questioned their existence as a distinct ethnic group, saying they were “southern Syrians” or Egyptians until Yasir Arafat, who was leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, “came along with a pitcher of Kool-Aid and gave it to everybody to drink and sold them the idea of Palestinians.”
These ideas, staples of the far right, are deeply offensive to the Palestinians — perhaps partly the point.
So how would Mr. Adelson resolve the long-running conflict? “Put up a big fence around our territory and say to the guys over there, your trucks can’t go over our land if you carry weapons, your planes can’t go over our airspace if they carry weapons,” he said. “How do you recognize a partner for peace when all they want to do is kill you and your people?”
None of this tough political talk was aired at the podium, where Mayor Barkat called the Adelsons “Zionist heroes of the city.”
These kinds of statements are actually very common in Israel, and Adelson will get no rebuke for them. They are a reminder that Israel’s only Rx for the future relationship with its neighbors is militarism, as its only Rx for the past relationship with its neighbors was militarism.
And what about the American discourse? That’s the real problem here. Last year Adelson made disparaging statements about Palestinians that Newt Gingrich then aped; and Adelson then held a lunch for Mitt Romney at the King David Hotel and Romney also spewed rightwing garbage about the Palestinians. And how many reporters even tried to interview Adelson when he was playing such an outsized role in US politics last year?
Listen to Romney last year, at the video’d fundraiser:
The Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish…
I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.
Well he piped that garbage from Adelson.
Turns out Edmund Saunders at the LA Times also got the story. He has a transcript, including this:
I don’t think the destruction of Israel is in the minds of a lot of Palestinians.
Really? How naïve and how ignorant can you be? I don’t understand why they teach their children to hate and kill Jews.
A lot of Israeli Jews are concerned about what the lack of peace is doing to the Jewish, democratic state. Are you worried that if there is no two-state solution, it will threaten Israel?
That’s completely irrelevant and that’s propaganda-ish. It’s plain stupidity to recognize a partner that wants to kill you [in order to achieve] peace.