by Lawrence Bush
If Newt Gingrich becomes the Republican nominee for President, his victory will be paid for, in no small part, by Sheldon Adelson’s gambling profits. Adelson, the billionaire owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (which owns the Venetian and the Pallazzo hotel-casinos), is one of the ten wealthiest people in America. He pitched in a life-saving $5 million on Gingrich’s behalf to fund attack ads on the eminently attackable Mitt Romney in South Carolina, and is expected to spend many millions more to catapult Gingrich to victory in Florida. Adelson had previously funded Gingrich’s political committee, American Solutions, with at least $7 million in contributions, which built Gingrich’s presidential campaign through advocacy of Social Security privatization, drill-baby-drill policies towards oil explorations, and others of Gingrich’s “avant-garde” reactionary ideas.
But there are many other political “accomplishments” under Adelson’s belt besides the revivification of Gingrich.
• Adelson has been a major cultivator of rightwing political opinion in Israel with the newspaper he launched in 2007, Israel Hayom, which within two years had a print circulation of 250,000, making it the second most-read Israeli daily. This prompted Yedioth Ahronoth and Maariv stupidly to seek repressive legislation banning foreign citizens from owning Israeli media. Israel Hayom is heavily tilted towards Benjamin Netanyahu and has gleefully backed the prime minister’s campaign to humiliate President Barack Obama and to try to turn American Jews to the right.
• Adelson has been a Las Vegas innovator in building non-union casinos and campaigning to keep unions out and to make Las Vegas a non-union town.
• Until 2008 (when his casino fortune temporarily plummeted by 65 percent), Adelson was the primary funder of Freedom Watch, a pro-Iraq War, pro-Bush administration advocacy group headed by Larry Klayman. Freedom Watch’s website has listed Iran’s likely development of a nuclear capacity as one of its two top concerns, and when NBC refused to air the organization’s ads for being “too political,” Gingrich called for a boycott of the network.
• Adelson has been a major force in removing the two-state solution from the immediate horizon. He is so opposed to a Palestinian state that he withdrew support from AIPAC — for which he had built an office building in Washington, DC — when the lobby supported a 2007 peace plan put forward by Ehud Olmert, George Bush, and Condoleezza Rice. Adelson also nearly withdraw support from Bibi Netanyahu for agreeing to a temporary moratorium on West Bank settlement-building at the request of President Obama.
• When the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League in October issued a “National Pledge for Unity” — entreating politicians, religious leaders, and Jewish groups to “avoid the sometimes polarizing debates and political attacks that have emerged in recent weeks, as candidates have challenged their opponents’ pro-Israel bone fides or questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-a-vis Israel” — the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Emergency Coalition for Israel, generously funded by Adelson, condemned the Pledge as an effort to suppress debate. Hamas may be justly castigated (and bombed) for not agreeing to abide by previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but when Netanyahu attempts to turn the clock back on the two-state solution, Adelsonn and his minions stand right behind him.
The Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court has paved the way for billionaire funders like Adelson to all-but-own opportunistic politicians like Newt Gingrich, nearly all of whose rightwards lurches — his denial of Palestinian peoplehood, his defining of war against Iran as Israeli self-defense, his hungry attacks on unions — dovetail perfectly with Adelson’s views. In short, while two-third of American Jews are more than likely to vote once again for Barack Obama, the Jewish right may well be coming to power in November — while the Jewish liberal mainstream stands mute, afraid of “stoking anti-Semitism.”