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‘NYT’ discovers elephant in living room: ‘Pro-Israel billionaires’

“Pro-Israel Billionaires From Both Parties Aid Menendez’s Defense Fund,” is the headline of an article in today’s New York Times that might have been reported by Lobelog or us. The piece by Alexander Burns says that embattled NJ Senator Robert Menendez is getting support from Republican Sheldon Adelson, who wants to nuke Iran, and Democrat Haim Saban, who wants to bomb the living daylights out of Iran, along with assorted other billionaires. (What do you think Menendez’s position is on Iran?).

This explains why Hillary Clinton vowed to her benefactor Saban that she will work “across party lines” to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Here are the first 4 paragraphs of the Times report:

Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who was indicted in April on corruption charges, raised nearly $1.6 million for his legal defense fund in the second quarter of the year, including from some of the country’s most prominent pro-Israel billionaires, according to a disclosure report filed this week.

Though Mr. Menendez is a Democrat, his legal fund has attracted support from political donors in both parties who take a hawkish view of Israel’s security. The New Jersey senator has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, and its often-troubled relationship with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is a prolific donor to Republican groups, gave $10,000 to Mr. Menendez’s legal trust, as did Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam, who is a physician.

According to the filing prepared for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the Robert Menendez Legal Expense Trust also received contributions from the entertainment magnate Haim Saban, a pro-Israel Democratic donor, and his wife, Cheryl, as well as from the real estate billionaire Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Seth Klarman, a hedge fund billionaire who has donated heavily to Republicans, gave $5,000.

The Times is finding it has no choice but to report on pro-Israel billionaires because they are such a prominent force in US politics on both sides, are the leaders of the opposition to the Iran deal; and because Eli Clifton and Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer and our site too have been pounding the issue so much in recent years. Along with presidential hopeful Sen. Lindsey Graham:

“If I put together a finance team that will make me financially competitive enough to stay in this thing…I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America because of the pro-Israel funding. Bottom line is, I’ve got a lot of support from the pro-Israel funding.”

Young officials in the Obama administration all read the Walt-Mearsheimer paper and book “The Israel Lobby” (2006, 2007) and vowed to shape American foreign policy on that basis, reports Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S., in his new memoir. And though Oren contends that the book advanced an anti-semitic “conspiracy thesis of undue Jewish influence on Congress and the media” he acknowledges its enormous traction:

Nevertheless, the assertion that U.S. support for Israel had precipitated 9/11 and other jihadist attacks against Americans, and that, far from an asset, Israel represented a strategic liability for the United States, tapped into strong campus currents. Graduates of those universities naturally gravitated toward the press and government service. So “The Israel Lobby,” refined into a bestselling book, penetrated the Beltway.

This did not mean that Obama had internalized the views contained in either [Edward Said’s book] Orientalism or “the Israel Lobby.” Still, there was no gainsaying the books’ impact on the academic and policy-making worlds from which his administration’s attitudes sprung. The notion of the need to revise America’s global role, to palliate Islam, and achieve diplomatic distance from Israel had become conventional by the time I arrived in Washington. Even the term “Israel Lobby,” once confined to racists such as Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, entered the mainstream media. Israel’s own policies no doubt accelerated these trends and endowed them with a moral pretext.

“Palliate Islam”– that’s an Islamophobic statement. Palliate, Webster’s:

to reduce the violence of (a disease)

to cover by excuses and apologies

to moderate the intensity of

Imagine someone saying that a writer was trying to excuse Judaism.

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James North and Philip Weiss

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23 Responses

  1. amigo on July 16, 2015, 2:13 pm

    If what Abe Foxman constantly claimed, is true , that America is a nation of secret Jew haters , and those Jew haters find out their government has been bought by Pro Israeli fellow Americans and steered into war for Israel,s benefit , then that antisemitism will fuel a serious backlash against American Jews.Of course Adelson/Oren /Saban and the other traitors will not suffer.They could care less what happens to their fellow Jews, as they themselves will be well protected and conveniently out of sight.

    It is good that the NYT is publishing this intrusive interference in America,s sovereign affairs.It would not be good if peace and equality seeking American Jews were to suffer because of that interference.

    • Citizen on July 16, 2015, 3:02 pm

      @ amgio
      Yes, but how is it a clear sign of jew hatred for someone to show up any single focus special interest group, especially if they are very rich in a society where campaign finance money is declared free speech by the highest court in the land? Every lobby except the Israel Lobby has long been attacked in open debate in the US main media. There’s lots of forms of “jewish geography” that do not involve Jews per se, e.g., lots of public counting of white males in any influential group or organization, both public and private. What the hell is “disparate impact,” if not the institutionalization of counting by ethnic/race/gender numbers to measure allocation of federal and state funding to an agency, to helping (and penalizing) actual individuals US citizens, or their opportunities, etc?

    • on July 16, 2015, 4:00 pm

      “If what Abe Foxman constantly claimed, is true , that America is a nation of secret Jew haters , and those Jew haters find out their government has been bought by Pro Israeli fellow Americans and steered into war for Israel,s benefit , then that antisemitism will fuel a serious backlash against American Jews “.


      If Americans begin to realize in large numbers that their government has been bought by Pro Israeli fellow Americans and steered into war for Israel’s benefit there will be a serious backlash against those who made this possible.

  2. just on July 16, 2015, 2:24 pm

    Well, I’ll be…

    Thank you, Alexander Burns. Here’s some information on Burns:

    Thanks, James and Phil!

    Thanks also for pointing this fact out: ““Palliate Islam”– that’s an Islamophobic statement.”

  3. David Doppler on July 16, 2015, 2:34 pm

    Oh, wow! An elephant. Who knew?

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Hillary ultimately fails, DUE to her “billionairesness,” her raising over a billion dollars for her own campaign, and her fealty to certain Pro-Israel billionaires.

    If you’re a young, idealistic Democrat looking to get ahead in progressive politics, knowing your pay-check comes from West Bank Settler supporters, will have a selective quality. If you’re a small donor, knowing that she’s raised so much big bucks from people with a clear non-progressive agenda, why contribute when you know it means nothing to her?

    And the NYT reports today that, while she’s outraising everyone, she’s also outspending everyone at a high burn rate, awkwardly reported as reflecting “frugality.” She’s in the pocket of “interested billionaires,” she’s spending their money freely, and therefore will need to keep doing what they want to keep the money flowing, and small donors – heart of the Democratic party – can’t feel that they make any real difference to her, regardless of what her high-cost TV ads say about her.

    This is where Israel’s strategy of leaving the Left behind, in favor the Right, is so deeply stupid. I turned on Rush Limbaugh for a few minutes yesterday and today, looking for coverage of the Iran Deal, and he’s bloviating pure Netanyahu-speak. The Democratic base, in case you haven’t noticed, doesn’t identify with Rush, and their all aware of the Israel Lobby, and the cost of taking billionaire checks to fund your campaign.

    So Hillary expects to win following tried and true political tactics, built on billionaire dollars, just as those billionaires have lost their minds, to fund a mega-campaign intended to rally her base, who are searching their souls about whether to join BDS, in order to finally put enough pressure on Israel to get it to change direction, and still looking for a candidate who will hold financial pirates accountable.

    • Citizen on July 16, 2015, 3:06 pm

      Female segment will put Hillary in the WH. Nobody else has such single agenda focus, except Israel Lobby–but that Lobby is fine with Hillary as POTUS, so–there you go. Most blacks and Latinos will also vote for Hillary. It’s a done deal.

      • annie on July 16, 2015, 8:31 pm

        i’m not so sure about that.

      • CigarGod on July 17, 2015, 12:09 am

        The state parties are all solidly behind Hillary. No democrat state chairs are bucking the national chair on this.

    • JWalters on July 16, 2015, 6:37 pm

      A very sensible analysis.

      ” just as those billionaires have lost their minds”

      And just as those billionaires are being publicly unmasked as corrupt, ignorant, bigoted bullies sabotaging bedrock American values.

  4. Citizen on July 16, 2015, 2:43 pm

    Sugar Daddy Net Worth Candidate(s)
    Sheldon Adelson; Casino tycoon $22.9 Billion Christie, Rubio (Maybe)
    Norman Braman; Car dealer, Philadelphia Eagles Owner $1.88 Billion Rubio
    Harlan Crow; Real estate developer, CEO of Crow Holdings Hundreds of millions Christie
    Larry Ellison, Oracle founder $54 Billion Rubio, Paul
    Foster Friess; Mutual fund financier $350 Million Santorum
    Ken Griffin; Citadel hedge fund founder est. $4.4 billion Walker
    David and Charles Koch $40.7 billion each; $81.4 billion combined Bush, Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Walker
    Robert Mercer; hedge fund magnate $23 billion Cruz
    Robert Rowling; TRT Holdings founder $5.5 billion Cruz

  5. Keith on July 16, 2015, 5:58 pm

    I think it would help to keep things in perspective if we changed our terminology to reflect the changed conditions in our society as our capitalist nobility assumes the role of the feudal nobility of bygone days. Hence, Lord Adelson and Lord Saban. Show some respect!

  6. annie on July 16, 2015, 8:33 pm

    funny, i got stuck on that phrase “, to palliate Islam” when i first read it in the oren blockquote and looked up the definition then and there and thought, that’s islamophobic…Imagine someone saying that about judaism…

    i should have read on first — saved myself the trouble.

  7. piotr on July 16, 2015, 10:31 pm

    Is it possible that donations are not related to positions of Menendez that pertain to Israel, instead, the donors simply love when a Senator is corrupted?

  8. bryan on July 17, 2015, 4:52 am

    Have I got this right? Menendez is charged with having acted corruptly on behalf of a major political donor, and contests the charge by assembling a massive legal defence fund, largely funded by super-wealthy magnates who (quite coincidentally) appreciate the dedication with which he pursues their ideological obsessions. Or is it that corruption (advocating on behalf of one’s patrons in return for backhanders is perfectly OK as long as one scrupulously declares the bribes one has received? Funny business – the ethics of political activism.

  9. eGuard on July 17, 2015, 6:42 am

    Oren: Still, there was no gainsaying the books’ impact on the academic and policy-making worlds from which his administration’s attitudes sprung.

    Easy to believe the book was read in these circles. But how exactly did it end up in those attitudes? What was the discernable effect on actual policy and policy making? Does Oren describe this? (My bet: no he doesn’t, its another smear).

    • David Doppler on July 17, 2015, 10:28 am

      “attitudes” is code for Anti-Semitism, used facilely to dismiss Israel’s critics from the “academic and policy-making worlds.” No room in that head for the notion that academics and policy wonks may have informed academic and policy-based grounds for criticism, that what Walt & Mearsheimer undertook was an analysis of the impact on policy and critical thinking of the corrupting influence of the Israel Lobby, and the stupidity of Likud policies, and those smart people absorbed the lessons.

      To the Israeli leadership and their supporters: when you find yourself in a deep hole that leads nowhere but further down, stop digging! Re-aligning with Rush Limbaugh and his ditto-heads may introduce a mob of new listeners who can, for a little while, be misled with stale hasbara, so long as Obama is there to be bashed with it: they’ll throw any rock at the Black president. But, after that, what? You’ll be another few meters deeper into your hole.

    • turveyd on July 17, 2015, 12:05 pm

      eGuard; ‘sprang’, surely.

  10. David44 on July 17, 2015, 10:28 am

    I was intrigued by the following:

    Oren: Even the term “Israel Lobby,” once confined to racists such as Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, entered the mainstream media.

    I thought I would test this; so I ran a search for the phrase “Israel Lobby” in the New York Times between 1980 and 2004. I came up with 112 hits, including this one from Hedrick Smith in 1981 – a well-known KKK-member, I presume (he also uses the term “Jewish lobby” in the article, though admittedly as part of a quote from a “Jewish leader” – perhaps another KKK member).

    Or this one, a profile of Senator Mac Mathias (R, Maryland), who apparently had spoken of “the potent Israel lobby” in an article in Foreign Affairs in 1981. Perhaps Senator Mathias was another racist KKK-member, though if so, it is odd that he is described in the article as ” the best Republican friend civil rights has had”.

    Or this one, from 1990 (a Reuters report – racists through and through, as we know).

    Or this one, from Roger Morris (NSC-member under Johnson and Nixon), who speaks (in 1991) of “the pro-Israel lobby, perhaps the most impregnable bloc supporting the interests of a foreign government ever assembled in American politics”. Racist, obviously.

    Or this one, which uses the term twice, as it describes President George H.W. Bush’s frustrations at taking on (in his words) “something like a thousand lobbyists”. George H.W. had lived in Texas – he MUST have been a KKK member.

    And of course this one, from one Thomas Friedman in 1998. Well, we already have Oren’s word for it that Friedman is an antisemitic racist. This simply proves the point.

    My overall conclusion: Michael Oren is a liar – or at best an ignoramus who says things without being prepared to do even the minimal research to back them up.

  11. Mooser on July 17, 2015, 11:32 am

    Well, I’m happy people have stopped talking about “Jewish millionaires” and “pro-Israel millionaires”. It wasn’t fair.

  12. Boo on July 17, 2015, 5:39 pm

    “Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson both want to bomb Iran”

    Well, what’s stopping them? They have enough money to fund their own private air force. I’d love nothing better than to see these two old farts [full disclosure: I’m another] clamber into the cockpits of their own bombers and take off for the sky above Teheran. Or perhaps they could conjure up the ghost of Air Force General Curtis Lemay, who longed until his dying day to be given the order to issue the go-codes and launch SAC nuclear bombers against Russia.

    I’m totally in favor of all these warhawks going and giving it a personal try. Iran’s air defense system is quite robust and stout. And I’m sure they wouldn’t mind battle-testing it against old fools like these.

    • annie on July 17, 2015, 5:48 pm

      “Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson both want to bomb Iran”

      that should be corrected to say Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson both want the US to bomb Iran!

    • Qualtrough on July 18, 2015, 1:31 am

      Boo – Iranians have to die to fulfill your personal fantasy? I think your heart is in the right place, but under your scenario a lot of innocent Iranians would end up dead.

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