Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino mogul, is back in the political news with a front-page article in the Washington Post, a timely reminder of the degree to which top Republican candidates feel compelled to kiss his ring and presumably commit themselves to unswerving devotion to the security of Israel as defined by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The occasion is a convention of the Likudist and Adelson-chaired Republican Jewish Coalition at Adelson’s hotel in Las Vegas, aptly named by the Post’s headline, “Sheldon Primary.”
Worth noting in the article, which reports that Adelson’s net worth is currently estimated at $37.9 billion, is the penultimate paragraph listing some of the other RJC board members who will presumably be in attendance, all of them major donors, including Lewis Eisenberg, Paul Singer, Wayne Berman, and former (Bush-appointed) ambassadors, Sam Fox and Mel Sembler. Honored guests will include Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. (Marsha Cohen had a scoop about this event last week.)
While the Post article cites Adelson’s strong feelings about Israel, it doesn’t really put that fervor into perspective, a perspective that hopefully the weekend’s supplicants will store some where in the back of their minds when they get a one-one with the man. So, for their sake, let’s recap a couple anecdotes indicative of his devotion. First, there’s the case of Newt Gingrich, whose 2012 primary campaign was paid for almost entirely by Adelson’s largess. Asked what motivated his benefactor, Gingrich was quite clear:
He knows I’m very pro Israel. That’s the central value of his life. I mean, he’s very worried that Israel is going to not survive.
And then there’s Adelson’s own words. Speaking to a group in Israel in July 2010, he was video-taped telling his audience:
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting — and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” Adelson said at the event….“All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.”
Thus, it is the blessing (and financing) of this man that is being sought this weekend by the Republicans who hope to be inaugurated as President of the United States in January 2017.
Jim Lobe blogs about foreign policy at www.lobelog.com.