Yesterday we picked up The Washington Post’s report on the “Adelson primary:” four Republican presidential hopefuls are going to a Las Vegas hotel this week to kiss Sheldon Adelson’s ring so as to gain his financial backing for a run.
Two opinion-writers have landed on the report from different points of view (liberal Zionist, national interest), both stating the frightening implications of someone exercising such influence out of concern for what he deems a Jewish interest.
First, J.J. Goldberg, a liberal Zionist, is alarmed that Republican Jewish influence-peddlers are fulfilling an anti-Semitic belief about Jews. His piece at the Forward is titled, “A GOP Plan to Save the Jews: Buy the White House.”
Amid mounting alarm that anti-Semitism is on the rise in key spots around the globe — and fears that Israel could be a prime target — a prominent Republican group has come up with a unique approach to fighting back: gather a bunch of Jewish zillionaires at a casino in Las Vegas, announce plans to buy the White House in 2016 and invite leading politicians to come, hat in hand, and beg for permission to be the candidate.
Goldberg notes Adelson’s company, per the Post: “The RJC [Republican Jewish Coalition] board also includes private-equity executive Lewis Eisenberg; hedge fund founder Paul Singer; Washington insider and lobbyist Wayne Berman; former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman; and former ambassadors Sam Fox and Mel Sembler.”
Then Goldberg writes:
before you go accusing the Post (or me) of spreading anti-Semitic stereotypes, consider what the word means. Merriam-Webster defines “stereotype” as “an often unfair and untrue belief.” The World English Dictionary calls it “a set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations.” Cardwell’s 1996 Dictionary of Psychology defines it rather more broadly as “a fixed, over generalized belief.” Nobody’s definition seems to include a straightforward recitation of facts that one would prefer remain hidden.
This was also the thrust of Walt and Mearsheimer’s book. Though they were careful to describe the Israel lobby as diverse, they were factually describing conservative Jewish influence, corrupting the political process. The same issue is at the heart of John Judis’s book on Truman: Zionists who were dedicated to saving Jews, and who regarded Arabs as a lesser form of life, corrupted American policy-making by forcing Truman’s hand, applying political pressure in advance of elections in 1946 and 1948.
Paul Pillar in the National Interest is also made extremely uncomfortable by the Adelson primary. He begins by comparing Adelson’s outsize influence to the political control of the white power structure in Jim Crow days.
From the 1890s until finally outlawed by the Supreme Court some fifty years later, one device used in the segregated South to maintain the white power structure and to prevent blacks from any effective political role was called the white primary. This was a sort of preliminary election, open only to white Democrats, that ostensibly was a nonofficial event not run by the state and thus did not adhere to laws and constitutional principles providing for equal treatment and universal voting rights. There would be a later official election in which blacks could vote, but it usually was meaningless because electoral contests had in effect already been decided in the white primary.
Now we have a procedure reminiscent of the white primary that is being called the “Sheldon primary,” as in political bankroller Sheldon Adelson. Republican presidential hopefuls are kneeling at the feet of the casino magnate in the hope of receiving his blessing, and thus his money, as the party’s nominee for 2016.
Pillar regards this as an issue of dual loyalty:
For this man who will likely have such enormous influence on who will be the Republican presidential nominee, the Republican party isn’t even his first love among political parties. That would be the Likud party. Adelson’s money also plays a very big role in Israeli politics…
Nor is the United States Adelson’s first love among countries. He has said that when he performed military service as a young man it “unfortunately” was in a U.S. uniform rather than an Israeli one. He has expressed the wish that his son become a sniper in the Israeli Defense Forces.
John Judis states in his book that the Zionist movement in the U.S. was bedeviled by the dual loyalty issue; they cared more about a Jewish state in Palestine than the American one they were living in. For instance, in early 1948, when it was obvious that the U.N. partition plan would unleash bloodshed in Palestine, the State Department resolved that an American trusteeship of the territory was the answer, leading to some type of federated or binational polity. The leading American Zionist, Abba Silver, said that Jews would fire on American troops who sought to enforce such a trusteeship. And today MJ Rosenberg accuses neoconservatives of dual loyalty in their opposition to Russia’s occupation of the Crimean peninsula: “Israel Firsters r anti-Russian because ANY show of force by US anywhere is a precedent for US using force 4 Israel.”