Thursday, June 26, 2008

Crazy Jewish billionaire

Sheldon Adelson comes across as the real-life version of a fictional character the Nazis would have featured in a propaganda movie. From the long New Yorker article (my emphasis in red):
"When Adelson was merely rich, he wrote checks for causes that he favored and for politicians whom he supported. Occasionally, he demanded to be heard. But he did not expect to play a significant role in U.S. foreign policy, or in Israel’s strategic decisions, or in the fate of a sitting Israeli Prime Minister. That was before he acquired many billions of dollars. (He has assets of twenty-six billion dollars, according to a Forbes list published in March.) His political expenditures and his expectations have increased proportionately. Not long after Bush’s encounter with Adelson last October, an Israeli government representative said that Bush, describing it to another Israeli official, had remarked wryly, 'I had this crazy Jewish billionaire, yelling at me.' (The Israeli official does not recall the conversation; the White House said that it had no comment.)"

and (while the Israelis may be the victims of the American Jewish Billionaires, they bear a lot of responsibility for falling prey to the one-issue guys):
"During the celebration of Israel’s sixtieth birthday, in mid-May, Shimon Peres wanted to hold a conference that would be attended by leaders from around the world. 'I know they had difficulties raising the money,' a former Israeli official told me. 'And time was short. So they realized they should talk to Sheldon.' Adelson agreed to provide three million dollars; after that, conference organizers were able to raise the rest. That Adelson was supporting an event led by Peres - the man he had helped Netanyahu defeat in the momentous 1996 election - made him appear more ecumenical. He and Miriam were named honorary conference chairs, and a photograph of them was featured in the program for the Peres event, along with a message from them. Throughout the conference, Adelson was treated with deference, reflected in his place in the receiving line, his addressing the conference, and his seat next to President Peres. (He was also one seat away from Prime Minister Olmert; they shook hands but did not exchange a word.) At a formal dinner attended by more than a hundred senior officials of various Israeli and Jewish organizations, guests were offered the opportunity to tell Peres what they considered the biggest challenge facing the Jewish people. Adelson, according to Ha’aretz, declared, 'I think Jews should have lots of sex. That is the solution to our demographic problem.'

After Adelson addressed the conference, Nahum Barnea wrote in his column in Yedioth Ahronoth, 'I saw a gambling tycoon from Las Vegas who bought my country’s birthday with three million dollars. I thought with sorrow: Is the country worth so very little? Were the champagne, wine and sushi that were given out for free in the lobby - breaking convention for such events - worth the humiliation?' Barnea went on:

Adelson is a Jew who loves Israel. Like some other Jews who live at a safe distance from here, his love is great, passionate, smothering. It is important to him that he influences the policies, decisions, and compositions of the Israeli governments. He is not alone in this, either; even back in the days of Baron Rothschild, wealthy Jews from the Diaspora felt that this country lay in their pocket, alongside their wallet. Regrettably, in the latest generation, we are being led by politicians who look at these millionaires with calf’s eyes.

In Israel, where political, academic, and business leaders tend to be outspoken, there is a striking reticence at the mention of Sheldon Adelson. Even people who are diametrically opposed to his politics refuse to be interviewed. 'There is a discernible amount of self-censorship going on,' the liberal Israeli-American writer Bernard Avishai said. 'There is no ideological justification for what Sheldon is doing among the Israeli intelligentsia - and a revulsion at an American weighing in so heavily on Israeli politics, in such a crude, reactionary way. But they won’t speak.'"