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Dionne and Shields ignore the Adelson in the room

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on 28 Comments

Last night two leading liberal commentators said that Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because he wanted to influence evangelical voters in the Alabama senate election on Tuesday. Neither mentioned the fact that Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s biggest donor, pushed the move.

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post said so on All Things Considered:

I think there’s a lot of evidence that this has to do with domestic politics. I heard one evangelical leader say this week that partly this was about intervening in the Alabama Senate race because a lot of evangelicals who are – will be a big part of Roy Moore’s base feel very strongly about Israel.

Mark Shields repeated the claim on the PBS News Hour:

It’s been particularly popular with evangelical Christians, the idea of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognizing that. It is no accident that it happened the week before the Alabama primary, where Donald Trump, according to the Pew national poll, has fallen from 78 percent support among evangelical Christians down to 61 percent.

And BTW, Mary Louise Kelly of NPR echoed Dionne, saying: “This is the president keeping a campaign promise to his base.”

Let’s get clear about some facts. Trump made the promise to move the embassy during the presidential campaign, in May 2016, to a Jewish organization, the Israel lobby group AIPAC. He did not do so in a red state but in the swamp called Washington, D.C., and over and over again vowed to support Israel:

When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one….

We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.

Maybe Trump also issued that promise in speeches to “his base” — Christian audiences. I don’t know. But the clip all the networks used this week was the AIPAC speech.

Then in January 2017, Trump told an Israeli reporter for Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper, Israel Hayom, that he stood by his word:

“Of course I remember what I told you about Jerusalem. Of course I didn’t forget. And you know I’m not a person who breaks promises.”

Again, no rednecks in sight.

Shibley Telhami, the Brookings analyst, says that evangelicals are the one American group that favors moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but that support is “hardly overwhelming”: 53 percent are for it, 40 percent are against it.

Haaretz, the BBC, Time, and the New York Times have all been more straightforward than Dionne and Shields about the fact that Trump’s biggest donor Sheldon Adelson– who gave upwards of $25 million to the campaign — has been ardent about moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Anthony Zurcher of the BBC cited evangelicals first, national security hawks second, and Sheldon Adelson and other donors third. Alana Abramson at Time cited Adelson and other Jewish donors as influencing Trump, though she also mentioned evangelical voters. She said the the timing of Trump’s announcement was propitious, just before the White House Hanukkah party, where he would be drenched with love.

Eli Clifton wrote a piece at Lobelog laying out Adelson’s influence on Trump, on December 4: Trump’s “biggest campaign contributor, billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is showing growing impatience with Trump’s slowness in moving the embassy.”

Clifton cited two solid reports on the importance of Jerusalem for Adelson. Adelson was reportedly “furious” last May when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that moving the embassy could harm the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Adelson “doesn’t buy the argument.” He said, “Palestinians are impossible negotiating partners.”

And there was a report in Adelson’s own Las Vegas newspaper two months ago:

“The Adelsons reportedly have been disappointed in Trump’s failure to keep a campaign pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on his first day in office.”

Nathan Guttman in the Forward said this week that evangelicals drove the move for Trump to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But if you read the piece, his evidence is fairly skimpy. Pat Robertson and John Hagee celebrate the move. But Sheldon Adelson cares even more. Adelson has raised the issue “repeatedly.”

CUFI, a pro-Israel Christian group that reaches millions of supporters, has called for Trump to recognize Jerusalem and relocate the embassy in events it holds across the nation and in lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill and with the executive branch. Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, one of CUFI’s key benefactors, has the same….

A well-placed source in the Jewish community told the Forward that Adelson raised the issue with Trump repeatedly in their meetings and conversations before the elections and after Trump took office. His main ally promoting this call was Steve Bannon, Trump’s former top strategist, who famously put relocation of the embassy on his whiteboard to-do list.

I’d point out that Jerusalem was front and center for Adelson going back to 2000, when he was a generous contributor to the Bush campaign and also to One Jerusalem, a group founded by neoconservatives Dore Gold and Douglas Feith among others out of concern that a U.S. peace deal would divide Jerusalem. President Bush also promised to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and did not. But he surely made Adelson happy by doing nothing for years about the peace process.

It is perfectly fair for Mark Shields and E.J. Dionne to cite evangelical voters as a possible factor in Trump’s decision. Many reporters do. As for the Alabama claim–  Steve Bannon brought Jerusalem up at a rally there, but I’d like some reporting on whether anyone really cares.

But to leave out Sheldon Adelson and AIPAC — that’s pure obfuscation on Shields and Dionne’s part. They know better, but they cannot broach the role of the Israel lobby.


Philip Weiss

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

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28 Responses

  1. John O on December 9, 2017, 11:46 am

    How many Evangelicals would have known that Jerusalem is NOT the capital of Israel?

  2. just on December 9, 2017, 12:38 pm

    So all of these “journalists” are actually working for “Israel Hayom” and The Lobby.

    Pitifully, shamefully and entirely Israel- first.

  3. MalcolmLeftly on December 9, 2017, 2:23 pm

    So the obvious question is why didn’t Dionne and Shields mention that Trump wanted to please AIPAC?
    Is it because they didn’t want to be targeted as not being a friend/supporter of Israel? It’s true that Christian Zionists wanted this as well. But too not make clear that this was a significant goal of Trump’s Ambassador (Friedman) and Kushner was leaving out the key element in the move.

    • Don on December 9, 2017, 3:10 pm

      “So the obvious question is why didn’t Dionne and Shields mention that Trump wanted to please AIPAC?”

      And the obvious answer is they probably do not like the prospect of being unemployed.

  4. Steve Macklevore on December 9, 2017, 2:50 pm

    I suspect the reason they didn’t mention Adelson and the lobby was fear.

    Fear of an incredibly rich and powerful man. Fear of being called an antisemite. Fear of losing contacts and the respect of colleagues. Fear of editors, conscious of losing advertising revenue.

  5. Keith on December 9, 2017, 4:34 pm

    Here we go again. Trump, Trump, Trump. So, how many Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen have publicly said that they were/are opposed to the move? How many liberal icons have stood in opposition? Has Bernie said that he was/is opposed? Elizabeth Warren? Who? Any pundits opposed? Thomas Friedman? Paul Krugman? How about Hillary? Has she gone on record as opposing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US embassy there? Just asking.

    • just on December 9, 2017, 7:00 pm

      Not one that I’ve read about. Since you mention Warren, here’s her bs:

      “Sen. Elizabeth Warren to Reform Jews: Trump’s Jerusalem Move Hinders Mideast Peace …

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Friday she worries that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will make it harder to achieve peace in the Middle East.

      Addressing several thousand attendees at The Union For Reform Judaism convention in Boston, the Massachusetts Democrat said she believes a two-state solution is the best hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. 

      While Warren said Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, she added that diplomacy between Israelis and Palestinians should determine the final status of the city. …”

      read more:

      bah humbug.

    • philweiss on December 9, 2017, 8:12 pm

      Good questions.

    • JWalters on December 10, 2017, 1:15 am

      This list shows the POWER of those restraining the discussion.

    • Kathleen on December 10, 2017, 2:48 am

      Whomas Friedman on Chris Matthews Hardball(I think it was Friday night) and was clearly against, CM played a little game when they were talking about Kushner and this a “nnouncement. CM said something like I’m not sure where Kushner is at about this issue. He is probably pro Israel” Pathetic fake on CM’s part, He has to know Kushner’s family has supported illegal settlements,

      Jane “waddled on over to interfere in Aipac espionage investigation” Harman was on Ali Velshi’s and said she totally supported the announcement , but still supports a two state solution, As if there is enough Palestinian land left for two states. Velshii pushed back a little,

      Not much talk about why Bill Clinton signed the the Jerusalem Act. Flies right in the face of any real negotiations.

      Have heard a few journalist including Ali Velshi say “what peace negotiations ?”

    • Sibiriak on December 10, 2017, 4:43 am

      Damn good questions!

      • MHughes976 on December 10, 2017, 9:07 am

        Various reports say that Senators Blumenthal, Durbin and Feinstein have spoken of Trump’s decision in mildly critical terms.

  6. Philip Munger on December 9, 2017, 5:53 pm

    I watched dozens of Trump campaign events during the 2016 Presidential campaign. He promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel at some of those events.

    Friday, at the pro-Moore rally in Pensacola, when he referred to the promise he made to move the embassy, the crowd roared in approval, as he smugly smiled in appreciation.

  7. JWalters on December 10, 2017, 1:06 am

    Thanks for the excellent reporting and analysis on this important topic.

    To any reasonably intelligent and reasonably well-informed person, it is simply not credible that Dionne and Shields are as uninformed as they appear to be here. So they are knowingly withholding CENTRAL information in their reporting. Thus, they are clearly and obviously violating the most fundamental principles of objective reporting. They are flagrantly betraying the trust of their audiences. They are violating what is sacred in journalism.

    • Citizen on December 10, 2017, 4:36 pm


    • Brewer on December 11, 2017, 2:42 am

      “violating what is sacred in journalism.”
      Quite the reverse.
      Objectivity in journalism went out the window decades ago. What is now sacred is Israel, it is heresy to point to the manifestly obvious power of the mainstream media owners and the bias it imposes. There is a long list of heretics – fine journalists and writers who have been sidelined because they dare to challenge the editorial policies by writing simple truths.
      Robert Parry
      Seymour Hersh
      Israel Shamir
      Chris Hedges
      Gideon Levy
      Mike Carlton
      Tim Willcox
      Helen Thomas
      Rula Jubreal
      Nafeez Ahmed
      ……I could go on.

      It is considered anti-Semitic to even touch on this subject – an indicator of just how powerfully that ridiculous concept has been embedded in Western culture. I say ridiculous because it is a deliberately contrived conversation-stopper, a device by which the genuine offense known as “racism” can be extended to include any criticism of any Jew no matter how justified such criticism might be.
      Israel Shamir calls the Jewish media magnates the “masters of discourse”. He is correct.

  8. JosephA on December 10, 2017, 1:32 am

    Does anybody know which casinos Adelson owns? I believe it’s high time for Sheldon Adelson to feel some B.D.S.; let’s hit this billionaire where it hurts – in his pocket book or his company’s bottom line! I will be happy to boycott his casinos.

    • RoHa on December 10, 2017, 7:07 pm

      I never go to any casinos. Does that count?

      • echinococcus on December 11, 2017, 6:38 am


        It doesn’t count, as you obviously do not belong to the politically aware population most ready and eager to punish a Zionist Godfather by boycotting him, i.e. the population of addicted penny-ante gamblers, professional cardsharps and pimps.

      • Mooser on December 11, 2017, 5:40 pm

        My Mother warned me against games of chance, especially those requiring a knowledge of higher mathematics, like addition or subtraction.

    • Nevada Ned on December 11, 2017, 12:29 am

      Adelson’s casinos can be found from the Wikipedia page of Las Vegas Sands.
      He owns many casinos, in Las Vegas, Bethlehem (PA) and a lot more in Asia.

  9. Nevada Ned on December 10, 2017, 2:01 pm

    Another difference between Adelson and the Christian Fundamentalists:

    The Christian fundamentalists have a number of hot button issues:
    For example:

    prayer in school
    secular humanism
    church political activism
    gun rights
    labor unions
    gay rights
    same-sex marriage
    trans-gender people

    For Sheldon Adelson, his top two priorities are:
    #1 Israel
    #2 there is no #2. See #1 above!

    So for Christian fundamentalists, the Israeli issue is just one of a number of hot button issues.
    Sheldon is a single issue voter and mega-donor. That gives him a helluva lot of clout.

    The single issue approach helps the NRA defeat gun control legislation, and it helps the Israel lobby too.

    • Citizen on December 10, 2017, 4:41 pm

      Yep. One is all about 2nd Amendment US domestic politics, the other is all about Jewish Zionist values across the world. Most Americans have no clue, but they pay for Israel in so many ways.

  10. US Citizen on December 10, 2017, 11:49 pm

    Shame on all the ‘journalists’ for being cowed by AIPAC I wish for once they would to their jobs. The one who owns you is the one you dare not criticize. Shame.

    • echinococcus on December 11, 2017, 9:26 am


      If a journalist has a secure job in the US, the odds that he was hired to not do his job are 999 to 1.

  11. Ronald Johnson on December 11, 2017, 8:40 am

    Addison apparently traded in his 747 for the A340 Airbus:

    Here is an article from June to describe Adelson’s “situation”:

    How many of those Christian Zionists approve of Casino Gambling, an extractive industry, with racy floor shows?

  12. Mooser on December 11, 2017, 5:43 pm

    “How many of those Christian Zionists approve of Casino Gambling, an extractive industry, with racy floor shows?”

    If the odds are as low as the age-of-consent, they’re ready to play.

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