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Chris Matthews gives Adelson and the lobby a pass

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Last week Sheldon Adelson and the Republican Jewish Coalition held a presidentials’ beauty contest in Las Vegas, at which KY senator Rand Paul was a no-show. Time says Paul’s opposition to foreign adventures worries “the pro-Israel crowd” and the magazine quotes three Israel lobbyists and five pro-Israel donors, most of whom want “to take Paul down.” Adelson, said a donor, is willing to spend “vast sums” to kibosh Paul.

Adelson’s spending is largely motivated by his strong concern for Israel, and Paul’s positions may well put a target on his back.

Pretty direct.

But compare that to Chris Matthews’s segment last night about Rand Paul dividing the Republican Party. The thrust of the segment was that Paul was taking on Dick Cheney, who had pushed the invasion of Iraq because of his oil interests — similar to Rachel Maddow’s claim of a few weeks back.

Matthews and guests David Corn and Ron Suskind mentioned Adelson a few times, and Corn even brought up the neocons, but no one said a word about the overriding difference between Rand Paul and the other candidates: Israel.

I.e., it’s fine for Matthews to call out the military-industrial complex, but he won’t touch the Israel lobby.

Matthews isn’t telling viewers that Adelson, who is generally thought to be the largest contributor to the Republican Party, has called on the president to nuke Iran, and that he believes Muslims want to kill 100 percent of the Jews. Or that Adelson is more concerned about a foreign country than the U.S.: he’s said that he wished he served in the Israeli army not the American one and he wants his son to be a sniper for Israel.

In a subsequent segment last night, Matthews called out the Koch Brothers, who are also big Republican givers, for destroying jobs and environmental legislation. Matthews said that Chuck Schumer (whose intelligence Matthews praised) wants to do for the Koch Brothers what was done to Bain Capital during Mitt Romney’s presidential run — ruin its reputation among working Americans.

OK– but then why can’t ordinary Americans hear that Sheldon Adelson calls on Obama to nuke Iran, not negotiate, and wants his son to fight for a foreign country? Chris Matthews often cites his opposition to the Iraq war. Well, he should call out Sheldon Adelson for war-mongering against Iran.

The problem here is, sadly, obvious: Adelson’s neoconservative agenda is widely shared inside the Democratic Party. Chuck Schumer is a hawk when it comes to Iran. Samantha Power had to kiss up to Adelson’s beneficiary Shmuley Boteach in order to get her job as U.N. ambassador. That’s why Matthews, Corn and Suskind are dancing around the issue. Even as Chris Hayes and Time Magazine show some spine.

So long as mainstream journalists avoid talking about the Israel lobby, the problem won’t go away. John Judis shows in his book on Truman that the very same financial/political influence that nullified American policy under Truman in 1948 (he pushed for the right of return, for instance) nullified it under Obama in 2011 (who said settlements must end). Isn’t it time that journalists sought to expose this pattern?

P.S. The Nation shows how this should be done. Eli Clifton has a piece up on Paul Singer, the neoconservative funder. The headlines: “GOP Pro-Gay Marriage Funder’s Other Agenda: Bombing Iran: Paul Singer is one of the Republican Party’s most effective fundraisers—and a leading proponent of using military force against Tehran.”

Eli Clifton reports:

First and foremost in Singer’s hawkish foreign policy portfolio is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a neoconservative think tank whose scholars have promoted “crippling sanctions,” bombing Iran, and sought to downplay how ordinary Iranians might react to a preemptive bombing campaign. The hedge fund mogul contributed $3.6 million to FDD between 2008 and 2011, making him the organization second largest donor after Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus.

Philip Weiss

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

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13 Responses

  1. Krauss on April 8, 2014, 6:09 pm

    Phil, you are not blunt enough. The Israel lobby contains Christian elements. Most Zionists in America, by numbers, are non-Jews.

    What we have here is something entirely different. Basically; Jewish money.
    Old Jewish men like Singer, Marcus, Adelson and many others. Men in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s who can afford to spend tons of cash.

    It is remarkable how little money you need to spend on think tanks to have a measureable impact, just look at Haim Saban(who, with Pritzker, Lester Crown and other democratic mega-donors performs the same duty for the democratic party).

    The reason why Matthews will not touch this issue is because it brings up a topic which is unpopular: Jewish political and monetary influence.

    That’s why it is okay to attack WASPs like the Koch brothers. You can talk about Adelson, but try to ignore his Israel politics as much as possible. What you cannot do, however, is to see a pattern.

    Why is it that the democratic and republican parties are both so craven on Israel?
    Inevitably you have to talk about Jewish money in particular, and you have to go into Jewish sociology, something even most Jews are unwilling to do. (You’re an expception that confirms the rule).

    Even “blunt-talking” Rahm Emanuel whimps out.
    Interestingly enough, Chris Hayes have less of these inhibitions. My guess is that because most of the Jews he knows are much more relaxed about these issues because they feel a lot safer in America. Adelson, Marcus and the others grew up in a vastly different America, where you’d get beaten up for being Jewish and where Israel was truly under serious threat.

    That world is long gone, but people’s minds have not yet caught up, and Matthews is part of that generation. His concept of Jewishness is not much different from the older neocon Jews he is supposed to cover; centered around vulnerability.

    Hayes’ courage can at least partly be explained by this generational gap, in fact, in some sense it becomes less courageous for him to talk about these issues than it would be for someone of Matthews’ generation, because how Jewishness and Jews are perceived is so much different.
    It requires a much smaller leap. 50% of all Jews in Hayes’ generation are out of intermarried families. And Jews are if anything closely aligned with the establishment of America at this point, the Anglo-Jewish axis that runs the country.

    For people of Hayes’ generation, the differences between a Koch and an Adelson is basically none. For Matthews’s generation, Adelson’s Jewishness still requires a special kind of consideration which Hayes’ generation see of little benefit.

    P.S. While money has a corrupting influence, I also think it is sometimes overstated. It can delay but not prevent the emergence of a new conconcus, something we have seen demonstrated these past 10 years.
    You can buy off academic deans by threats of fewer donations, but you can’t buy off students.

    And lest we forget the 2012 election, where Obama lost the fundraising race but won the popular vote by a considerable margin. Money corrupts, but in the end it does not prevail if the grassroots are determined enough to change the culture and the political understanding of the nation.

    • phacepalm on April 9, 2014, 3:28 am

      Excellent comment

    • Citizen on April 9, 2014, 4:10 am

      “….Money corrupts, but in the end it does not prevail if the grassroots are determined enough to change the culture and the political understanding of the nation.”

      Chris M’s MSNBC show is called “Hardball.” His signature opening is. “Let’s play hard ball!”
      On Fox News channel show, The Five, they skewer everything political–except our bribed bipartisan foreign policy.

    • John Douglas on April 9, 2014, 11:55 am

      Kraus is right on the money here. My take Matthews’ fear vs. Hayes’ courage has been that Hayes sees himself as having more options than Matthews when the pink slip arrives after speaking truth about Israel. Matthews dearly loves his job, being able use commentators as an excuse to spout off his indignations at the right wing, remembering the glory years of Tip and JFK. Kraus gets further into it.

  2. Kay24 on April 8, 2014, 11:12 pm

    Chris Mathews, like all other who work for the zionist media in the US, dare not, and will not, say anything negative about Israel, even in passing….if they do, they will be attacked for being antisemitic, and will not find work with other zionist media.
    No Jews or Christians working for the zionist media, ever criticize Israel, even when it sends precision bombs into Gazan homes, and murdered children are pulled out of the rubble, in fact they keep repeating the Israeli mantra, that they are only “precision bombing” the terrorists. Last time around 23 children were killed during Israel’s incursion into Gaza. Terrorists eh?

  3. JeffB on April 8, 2014, 11:40 pm

    @Krauss

    Why is it that the democratic and republican parties are both so craven on Israel? Inevitably you have to talk about Jewish money in particular, and you have to go into Jewish sociology,

    Not really. The electorate is 60/10/30 pro-Israel/pro-Palestinian/indifferent. That’s not remotely close. Now that might not matter too much if there weren’t people who vote the Israel issue but there are. And they break unevenly.

    There is nothing unusual about the Israel issue. Americans like Israel. Jews and some evangelicals like Israel enough to vote the issue. Money helps. The degree of Jewish activism helps. But more than anything else where that matters is preventing Liberal America (which is much more pro-Palestinians and much less pro-Israel) from mainstreaming anti-colonialist Palestinian cause.

    • Citizen on April 10, 2014, 5:28 am

      @ JeffB
      You missed the point, which is, in a nation where 55% of adults get their news from TV, the big Zionist donor money is never discussed there as such, and ditto the present character of Israel and the heavy US government funding of same, along with US provision of diplomatic cover over Israel at the UN. The polls of American adults reflect this manipulated ignorance, along with the constant massaging refrain by our politicians that there’s no sky between US and Israel.

      • JeffB on April 11, 2014, 1:04 pm

        @Citizen

        Which TV news network do you believe has not had a story on lobbying or campaign finance reform in the last 2 years?

      • Citizen on April 11, 2014, 1:48 pm

        The question is, which TV News channel has had a segment ever on the Pro-Israel Lobby? Answer: None.

  4. DICKERSON3870 on April 9, 2014, 4:10 am

    RE: “Eli Clifton has a piece up on Paul Singer, the neoconservative funder.” ~ Weiss

    PHIL: Are you perchance referring to Paul Singer, the infamous vulture capitalist?
    If so, you really should do the man justice. After all, he is widely recognized as the slimiest vulture capitalist on Wall Street. Give the man his due!

  5. DICKERSON3870 on April 9, 2014, 4:13 am

    RE: “Eli Clifton has a piece up on Paul Singer, the neoconservative funder.” ~ Weiss

    PHIL: Are you perchance referring to Paul Singer, the infamous vulture capitalist?
    If so, you really should do the man justice. After all, he is widely recognized as the slimiest vulture capitalist on Wall Street, and that is certainly no mean feat.
    So, don’t sell him short. Give the man his due!

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