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Rob Malley and Chris Hayes can’t talk about Adelson’s influence in scrapping Iran deal

Media Analysis
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Two leading figures on the American left, Rob Malley and Chris Hayes, cannot honestly discuss the role of Israel in foreign policy-making, specifically Sheldon Adelson’s influence over Donald Trump’s historic and tragic decision to scrap the Iran deal, a landmark of international diplomacy.

Malley, a former Obama security aide, gave a one-hour interview on Trump’s destruction of the Iran deal and cited three reasons for Trump’s decision: He wants to demolish Obama’s legacy (“That’s an obsession”), Trump wants to fulfill promises he made to his “base,” the “electorate;” and he has advisers who counsel “regime change” in Iran.

No one would question that Trump wants to destroy Obama’s achievements. But the base? When Trump campaigned in March in rural Pennsylvania for a Republican congressional candidate (who lost), he didn’t once mention Iran or the Jerusalem embassy. Trump’s base doesn’t care about those things. And to the extent they do, they don’t want Middle East wars. Rob Malley writes for the New York Review of Books, and ought to be more responsible.

Malley failed to mention the elephant in the room: Sheldon Adelson, Trump’s largest donor. As Eli Clifton has reported, Trump scrapped the deal because of three billionaire donors, Adelson, Bernard Marcus and Paul Singer, whose “investment [is] total alignment by the U.S. behind Israel.” The three men are all rightwing Jewish Zionists (though Adelson and Singer are liberal on social issues), and their influence is significant: Trump trashed his original foreign policy braintrust of Tillerson/McMaster that supported the Iran deal, and replaced it with two hacks Pompeo/Bolton, whom Adelson surely adores.

Adelson has incredible access. Peter Stone of McClatchy reported that the day after the Iran decision,

Adelson quietly slipped into the White House for a private meeting with Trump and three top administration officials: Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and an Adelson favorite, National Security Adviser John Bolton

Lately Adelson gave $30 million to the Republican Congressional Leadership Fund to try and thwart a Democratic takeover of the House in the midterms. That’s hugely meaningful to our transactional president. His neck could be on the line in these elections.

The McClatchy story on Adelson’s influence states that both the Jerusalem and Iran decisions stemmed from Adelson’s power. “The White House actions partially are testament to Adelson’s clout and that of like-minded pro-Israel conservatives, many observers believe.”

McClatchy named a source who ought to know. Mel Sembler, a former fundraising chair of the Republican National Committee, “thinks Adelson’s influence was palpable. ‘I’d say he was an important factor in all these decisions,’ said Sembler.”

At The Nation, Amy Wilentz is also honest about Adelson’s role:

To my mind, he is single-handedly responsible for this grotesque change in US policy. He’s a giant contributor to the super PACs that funded Trump’s election. He supports conservative super PACs, both for the House and the Senate to the tune of $20 and $25 million for each. You could even say that there was a quid pro quo for this embassy: I give you $25 million, you move the embassy.

Again, this is influence that Rob Malley (for whom we have considerable respect) cannot report. Why not? Because to do so smacks of assertions of outsize Jewish influence that were a hallmark of murderous, anti-Semitic campaigns in Europe. I understand the apprehension; but journalists have to go where the facts are, and follow the money.

Chris Hayes, the progressive host at MSNBC, is almost as bad as Malley. On May 10, he did a segment (below) on the fact that the Republican Party was getting that $30 million from Adelson and ascribed it to Adelson’s being a “satisfied customer” on his foreign policy priorities: scuttling the Iran deal and moving the embassy.

But Hayes made it a point not to dwell on Adelson’s agenda in any depth. The segment was devoted to smoke-screen speculation that Adelson’s game was trying to get estate-tax changes from Republicans that would personally profit him $670 million. That’s absurd. Adelson once urged Obama to nuke Iran and has said that he wished he had served in the Israeli army not the American one. Hayes’s panel said it was all about voter suppression, or the “endless corruption” of Republican-backed campaign financing provisions. Jason Kander, a former secretary of state in Missouri, said the Democratic side “thinks… we should change these [campaign finance] rules.”

Kander is an opponent of the Iran deal himself, and all but congratulated Trump on breaking the deal. That’s what Hayes is up against, the Democratic Party leadership also loves Israel and has never stood up firmly for the Iran deal.

Hayes covered his behind toward the end of the segment, the only time Israel was mentioned.

There’s also a foreign policy component here. The rich donors might have different foreign policy priorities. Sheldon Adelson has very intense foreign policy priorities as relate to Israel. You can imagine people having intense foreign policy priorities as to Brexit or NATO or Ukraine… You get a US foreign policy where you have to wonder what is guiding it.

That’s far too little too late, and deceptive. Could Hayes’s mystification have anything to do with the fact that Comcast executive David Cohen held fundraisers for the Israeli Defense Forces and pro-Israel American Jewish groups? I think so.

The New Yorker Radio Hour also mystified Trump’s motivation, implying in that segment last weekend that Trump was trying to satisfy his electorate.

But Adelson can take credit for turning Trump away from his initial isolationist statements during the campaign. Back in January 2016, Trump said that the Iran deal was bad for American business, and that was the problem.

That was before Sheldon Adelson signed on to the Trump campaign, when he was still giving money to Ted Cruz.

But as usual, the Democrats and progressive media are more worried about the Koch brothers.

Thanks to Annie Robbins.

Philip Weiss

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

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47 Responses

  1. Citizen on May 22, 2018, 11:36 am

    They should bring more attention to Haim Saban

    • Misterioso on May 23, 2018, 11:40 am

      And the sun shines through!!:

      “Other Words,”

      “The Lesson I Learned Growing Up Jewish”
      By Jill Richardson, May 16/18

      “I was told again and again to stand up when someone’s being mistreated. So I realized I had to stand up for Palestinians.”

      “Now that Israel has killed dozens of Palestinian protesters in an obviously gross human rights violation, can we get something straight? You can criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic.

      “I grew up Jewish, in an environment strongly supportive of the Israeli state. But I don’t support the way Israel treats the Palestinians, particularly when they slaughter unarmed people as they did this week.

      “My parents sent me to 13 years of Jewish Sunday school, complete with a Bat Mitzvah and all. I don’t really consider myself Jewish as an adult, but an entire childhood of religious education still made its mark.

      “Half of Jewish holidays revolve around the theme that some people oppressed us or tried to wipe us out just for being Jewish, and we suffered but we survived.

      “We were told again and again that when you stand silently when someone is being mistreated — whether it’s a kid getting bullied on the playground or an entire people suffering genocide — you are part of the problem.

      “If there’s one single lesson I learned from growing up Jewish, that’s it.

      “Unfortunately, that lesson can be at odds with another one we commonly get growing up: that Israel is our homeland. Whoever you are, if you are Jewish, when you go to Israel, you are home.

      “Sadly, nobody in our synagogue ever mentioned that the Palestinians should have rights, or even questioned whether Israel was treating them justly.

      “I internalized a belief that Israel was the land of the Jews, and when the Jews came back to reclaim it in the 20th century, the Palestinians were in the way. So they should leave. (Also, they were terrorists.)

      “At 18, I finally went to Israel. But Israel didn’t feel like my home. It felt like a blend of Middle Eastern and European culture. I felt just as foreign there as I did in Italy, Greece, or Egypt when I visited those places.

      “I saw a small snapshot of how badly the Palestinians were treated by the Israeli government. I also saw that the Palestinians were people too, mostly just trying to live their lives.
      For the first time, I questioned what I’d been told about Israel. My principle of opposing injustice meant that I should stand for Palestinian rights, even if it meant disagreeing with the Israeli government.

      “I thought being Jewish was synonymous with supporting Israel, so after my trip I decided I was no longer Jewish.

      “Looking back, it was a mistake to equate Judaism with unquestioning support of Israel’s government. I know now that I if I chose, I could be Jewish while remaining critical of the Israeli government.

      “Many Israelis oppose their own government’s treatment of the Palestinians. Left-leaning Israelis vote against Prime Minister Netanyahu, and they oppose Trump’s inflammatory decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The same is true of millions of Jews here in the United States.

      “Of course Palestinians protest. Life has gotten worse for Palestinians since I visited, particularly in Gaza. Some call Gaza an ‘open air prison’ and compare Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to South Africa’s apartheid. If Israel has a problem with Palestinians protesting, improving those conditions makes more sense than killing people.

      “Calling anyone who critiques the Israeli government’s policies and actions “anti-Semitic” may be a useful way to silence dissent, but it’s not at all accurate.

      “Israel is not Judaism. We can and should have a healthy debate about Israel’s policies and U.S. policy on Israel, just like we debate anything else in politics.”

      • RoHa on May 24, 2018, 12:28 am

        “another one [lesson] we commonly get growing up: that Israel is our homeland. Whoever you are, if you are Jewish, when you go to Israel, you are home. … I internalized a belief that Israel was the land of the Jews, and when the Jews came back to reclaim it in the 20th century…

        If I suggest that Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country of their birth and citizenship, I get accused of using one of those anti-Semitic tropey thingies.

        But Jill Richardson says that, as part of her Jewish upbringing, she was taught things that would lead to greater loyalty to Israel.

        Are we now allowed to knock one item off the list of forbidden ideas?

    • Tom Callaghan on May 27, 2018, 9:48 pm

      One thing (among others) that I admire about Nancy Pelosi is that she stood up to Haim Saban when he let it be known that he would greatly reduce his contributions to House Democrats if Nancy didn’t name his favorite, Rep. Jane Harmon, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

      Nancy held her ground. Jane didn’t get the job.

      This all went down way back when Nancy was Speaker.

  2. Kay24 on May 22, 2018, 11:51 am

    You can always sense it. Even the most outspoken in the media, seems to shy away from criticizing Israel. It is almost like that subject is taboo, and no one dares to make the obvious connection, to our policies, and why US leaders react in that certain way, when it comes to Israel. The president and his terrible behavior can be criticized, but not a word of criticism about Netanyahu. Most noticeably the words “occupation” and “land theft” is never mentioned as one of the reasons why the Palestinians keep protesting. All we keep hearing is that it is the fault of Hamas, and that Israel has to constantly “defend” it self. No one has the spine to ask the pro zionist crowd that swarms to the media, whenever Israel decides to mow the law, when the occupation will end, and when Israel will follow international laws and stop building illegal settlements.
    From the talks shows that criticize Trump’s every move, like The View, to
    the progressive hosts like Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow, no one ever digs deep into this conflict, to discuss, and question, why the US keeps supporting and aiding, the occupation, land grabs, and the massacres.
    No spine eh?

    • JWalters on May 22, 2018, 7:48 pm

      Yeah, it’s almost kind of funny to watch their expressions as they pick their way around the Israeli mastodon.

    • Misterioso on May 23, 2018, 9:58 am

      I am once again posting the following video re Sheldon Adelson. Very informative!!!

      Canada’s CBC Television’s Wendy Mesley interviews NYT reporter Ken Vogel on Sheldon Adelson and Stephen Harper, et al, about their support for Israel

      After the three commercials, go to the 6:08 mark. theweekly/the-weekly-with- wendy-mesley-may-20-2018-1. 4671369

  3. Steve Grover on May 22, 2018, 1:16 pm

    You know that I am the Jew that causes and has caused all policy that could be considered favorable to Jews and Israel. I also control and have controlled all media and the banks.
    Your welcome.

    • Mooser on May 22, 2018, 1:47 pm

      “You know that I am the Jew that causes and has caused all policy that could be considered favorable to Jews and Israel. I also control and have controlled all media and the banks.
      Your welcome.”

      Then why the pathetic bids for negative attention at, of all places, Mondoweiss?

      • Steve Grover on May 22, 2018, 3:30 pm

        Sometimes Mooser you just gotta amuse yourself.

      • Mooser on May 22, 2018, 4:22 pm

        “Sometimes Mooser you just gotta amuse yourself.”

        Yeah, but I never wonder which means more to you, Zionism, or amusing yourself.
        There’s obviously no contest.

    • CigarGod on May 23, 2018, 9:00 am

      Every little bit helps, Grover.

    • Misterioso on May 23, 2018, 10:31 am

      @Steve Grover

      “Sometimes Mooser you just gotta amuse yourself.”

      I’ll take your word for it, but please do so behind closed doors!!

  4. Tom Callaghan on May 22, 2018, 1:22 pm

    Brian Roberts is the CEO of Comcast which owns MSNBC. Roberts is Jewish and makes frequent trips to Israel to play squash in the Maccabee Games. He’s well connected with the Israeli leadership.

    Main stream progressives and liberals like Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow are pathetically gutless. Two people who are capable of a minor level of courage on Israel are Fareed Zakaria and Christiane Amanpour on CNN and CNN International respectively.

    In New York City one of the major cable providers, Spectrum, owned by Charter Communications, does not offer, at any price, CNN International which does have some good people on Mideast coverage.

    The power and reach of Sheldon Adelson and Rupert Murdoch is willfully ignored by most of the media. Also, undercovered is the courtship by Israel and its friends of right wing Christian Evangelicals.

    • Maghlawatan on May 22, 2018, 2:08 pm

      The fact that US journalists are so afraid of the lobby is pure Tammany Hall and a guarantee that Zionism is doomed. Tammany Hall didn’t survive either.

      • philweiss on May 23, 2018, 8:47 am

        I agree with you

      • Maghlawatan on May 23, 2018, 1:02 pm

        Everything about Zionism is forced. The lobby is vicious. The IDF is murderous. No dissent is tolerated so Zionism never learns anything. Paranoid institutions do not survive.

    • JWalters on May 22, 2018, 7:45 pm

      “Also, undercovered is the courtship by Israel and its friends of right wing Christian Evangelicals.”

      I’ve wondered if esteemed Reverend Hagee is getting some money under the table.

  5. Maghlawatan on May 22, 2018, 4:05 pm

    The Protocols are fairly popular in Iran. No wonder, really.
    As James Buchan has observed, “lachrymose intransigence” is the Islamic Republic’s favored mode.
    Israel’s favourite mode is the Protocols mixed with shooting and crying.

  6. Keith on May 22, 2018, 4:36 pm

    PHIL- “Because to do so smacks of assertions of outsize Jewish influence that were a hallmark of murderous, anti-Semitic campaigns in Europe.”

    Not because they are afraid of American Jewish Zionist power and the impact on their careers? Yet you have introduced historical European Jewish victimhood implying latent Gentile anti-Semitism waiting to pounce. Why?

    • JWalters on May 22, 2018, 7:41 pm

      I agree the “reporters” are covering up to keep their jobs. Being sensitive to history I take as their somewhat plausible cover story. Meanwhile, there is an acknowledgement that at least some historical actions against Jewish communities were accompanied by claims of Jewish domination.

    • philweiss on May 23, 2018, 8:48 am

      Because I just visited Poland.

      • on May 23, 2018, 9:52 am

        Maybe it’s time you visited the Alamo.

      • Keith on May 23, 2018, 11:16 am

        PHIL- “Because I just visited Poland.”

        Perhaps you should now visit Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya and most of the “death squad democracies” in South America, etc, to get up to speed on all of the killing the empire has done since then. As a citizen of empire, your primary concern should be the current actions of empire, not the past actions of Nazi Germany. Do not use the past to turn a blind eye to the present and the future, nor to reinforce a narrow ethnic bias. Harping on anti-Semitism or potential anti-Semitism is a tactic to control the narrative, nothing more. And a successful one at that.

      • Keith on May 23, 2018, 11:27 am

        BROADSIDE- “Maybe it’s time you visited the Alamo.”

        Forget the Alamo, visit the new lynching museum in Alabama to learn about real and ugly American history.

        And let us not forget what was done to the native Americans whose treatment was the inspiration for Hitler’s lebensraum.

      • Mooser on May 23, 2018, 12:22 pm

        “Because I just visited Poland.”

        Good. I was hoping you wouldn’t forget Poland.

  7. JWalters on May 22, 2018, 7:32 pm

    Superb article on the absurd news! Those guys MUST be aware of all you are describing here. They’re news professionals! Are they twisted up inside, knowing people are seeing their pretense? But there’s all that money… Or do they agree with W that “Hey, we’ll all be dead and it won’t matter”?

    (Is absurd news the same as regular fake news, or a separate sub-species?)

  8. on May 22, 2018, 8:56 pm

    “Again, this is influence that Rob Malley (for whom we have considerable respect) cannot report. Why not? Because to do so smacks of assertions of outsize Jewish influence that were a hallmark of murderous, anti-Semitic campaigns in Europe. I understand the apprehension; but journalists have to go where the facts are, and follow the money.”

    No less disingenuous than Malley and Hayes.

  9. dx on May 23, 2018, 12:34 am

    Ronan Farrow talked a little bit about the Israeli role in Trump’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal on Sunday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Just FYI.

  10. RoHa on May 23, 2018, 1:01 am

    “Two leading figures on the American left…”

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    • philweiss on May 23, 2018, 8:48 am

      you live in the southern hemisphere, right? The water goes down the drain the wrong way where you live
      I think left/right is contextual

      • RoHa on May 23, 2018, 10:21 am

        And in the context of the world, there is no left in America.

      • Mooser on May 23, 2018, 12:37 pm

        “And in the context of the world, there is no left in America.”

        “RoHa”, I reset my text-to-audio program for your comments from Capt. Moonlite to Upper Received Pronunciation, and man, you should’a heard that one roll out!

      • RoHa on May 23, 2018, 11:05 pm

        Mooser, I’m sure it was impressive, but perhaps not entirely trustworthy.

        If you set the programme for Falkirk pronunciation, you will believe everything it tells you.

  11. Boomer on May 23, 2018, 7:05 am

    This morning I heard NPR do a story that mentioned BDS. I don’t suppose it is the first time for NPR, but I don’t recall hearing it discussed there. It was about a court case in in Arizona that is testing the state’s anti-BDS law. One might take it as a good thing that NPR mentions it, but it seemed to accept the assertions by advocates of the law that it is intended to protect against discrimination. The case was cast as one that pits “free speech” against “anti-discrimination.” Personally, I don’t see anti-BDS laws as having anything to do with discrimination, but evidently that’s how it is defined in the court case.

  12. philweiss on May 23, 2018, 8:50 am

    For two days in a row on NPR Steve Inskeep slagged Hamas, saying all Americans want to punish a terrorist organization. I hold no brief for Hamas. But there is some large political component to their power; and “Most Americans would like to get rid of Netanyahu”, right Steve?

    • CigarGod on May 23, 2018, 9:17 am

      Steve’s only purpose is to be the illusion of “fair and balance.”

      If you listened to him “interview” Brian Hooks on Yemen/Iran this week, you were able to witness the moment the last molecule of “journalist” left his body.

    • Boomer on May 23, 2018, 10:38 am

      It is and long has been routine to hear Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood effectively equated with terrorism in the U.S. media, without any attempt to provide a broader contemporary or historical context. As with the framing that equates BDS with anti-Semitism, it tends to serve Israel’s agenda, minimize the rights of Palestinians, and ignore the role of Israel and the West.

      I’ve learned to ignore Thomas Friedman as a source of wisdom on the subject, but if one wants an example of the pernicious, condescending, twisted crap he sells in this regard, see his current column. My local paper is a Hearst paper, but today it carries the column with this heading:

      “Ecosystem may affect the West Bank’s future: Thomas Friedman says Israelis and Palestinians could eventually be forced to hammer out a new deal by increasingly tainted drinking water.”

      • gamal on May 23, 2018, 11:02 am

        “without any attempt to provide a broader contemporary or historical context”

        quite so

        i linked to Hroubs book here years ago

        still worth a look and

        Muhammad Ayoob wrote “The Many Faces of Political Islam” interesting intro

        and i would recommend this very good intro also..

        Princeton Readings in Islamist Thought: Texts and Contexts from al-Banna to Bin Laden (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)
        by Roxanne Euben (Editor), Muhammad Zaman (Editor)

        i would say a deal more interesting than media coverage of these movements in my humble etc….

      • Boomer on May 23, 2018, 1:42 pm

        re references on political Islamic thought from gamal

        thanks for the links

      • RoHa on May 24, 2018, 8:32 pm

        Gamal, are you suggesting that we should learn a bit about the topic before we form rigid opinions? That’s not the done thing, you know.

  13. Spring Renouncer on May 23, 2018, 12:00 pm

    You are so right about MSNBC’s cowardice on this issue, and it seems that the more prominent a presenter is at the network the more they avoid the issue of Palestine on air. Last week, during and after Israel’s massacre of protesters in Gaza, I seethed as I watched Rachel Maddow deliver one of her regular obsessive rants on Trump and Russia – she even mentioned the new US embassy in Jerusalem, but totally ignored the Palestinians and their plight. There was such naked and desperate hypocrisy on display as vague, possible Russian help to the Trump administration was presented as the scandal of the decade, but Israeli hijacking of U.S. foreign policy was ignored as a non-issue. Later that night Lawrence O’Donell was the same: his demeanor and show totally unaffected by the slaughter.

    One MSNBC presenter who did take a somewhat more critical point of view on Israeli actions and Netanyahu was Ali Velshi. But his show is during the day and has fewer viewers, so the stakes are lower and presumably the pressure on him to toe the line lower also.

  14. Boomer on May 23, 2018, 7:55 pm

    I heard Ronan Farrow on Freshair today allude to the pressures brought on him to abort his reporting on Harvey Weinstein. Ultimately he lost his job at NBC. If that corporation was willing to compromise its ethics to that extent for the sake of one horny film producer, just imagine what pressures are like when it comes to bucking Israel and its lobby.

  15. Peter in SF on May 24, 2018, 2:38 am

    I went to see Rob Malley speak at the World Affairs Council in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Someone else in the audience said that Ron Lauder and Charles Bronfman are leading a movement of American Jews who are somewhat critical of the current Israeli government, and asked Malley if these American Jews are influencing U.S. policy toward Israel in a more moderate direction. Malley replied that Lauder and Bronfman are in fact both quite friendly with Netanyahu, but any moderating voices are overpowered anyway by other, even larger, Jewish donors (he didn’t name any) who are totally with a right-wing Israeli agenda. He went on to say that sources tell him that Trump has said some rather unkind things about Israel in private that many lovers of Israel would find disturbing, but in this case, Trump does what his donors want because he is a “transactional” kind of guy.

    I felt like following up to ask him if both he and his questioner were indulging in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that U.S. policy towards Israel is controlled by Jews, and in particular by Jewish billionaires who are buying influence.

    • Keith on May 24, 2018, 11:19 am

      PETER IN SF- “I felt like following up to ask him if both he and his questioner were indulging in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that U.S. policy towards Israel is controlled by Jews, and in particular by Jewish billionaires who are buying influence.”

      Would I be indulging in an anti-corporate conspiracy theory to suggest that corporations use lobbyists and campaign contributions and think tanks, etc, to try and influence US domestic and foreign policy? This is capitalism for cry sakes.

      Yet, it goes beyond this. We have, of late, experienced what can only be described as the Zionization of imperial foreign policy where the neocons have become mainstream. Total warmongering and complete support for Israel is the new normal.

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