CHICAGO: Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who died on Monday at the age of 87, did not regret denouncing the Palestinians as “an invented nation”, and used his fortune to increase this message through his media empire and his gifts of campaign to influence the US elections.
Editor of Israel’s largest newspaper Israel Hayom, he was the biggest financial contributor to US President Donald Trump’s campaign, and donated millions more to candidates for Congress and the Senate.
“Sheldon Adelson was an American patriot and a staunch defender of Israel and the Jewish people. His loss is enormous for America, for Israel and for the Jewish people, ”Jason Greenblatt, one of Trump’s first key advisers on the Middle East, told Arab News.
“His deep knowledge of Israel and its many challenges has been invaluable to the Trump administration over the past four years. Sheldon, along with his wife Miriam, were among those who offered serious advice, strong encouragement and a critical look at many of President Trump’s policies regarding Israel. I consider them to be extremely important personalities whose contribution has been extremely valuable.
But Greenblatt’s admiration for Adelson is not shared by most Arab-American activists and leaders, many of whom have told Arab News their views may be too harsh to be published in a newspaper.
Jim Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, told Arab News that Adelson had used his money and influence to impact American public and political opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, getting “Trump to do what he wanted ”.
Zogby cited as an example the relocation of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Adelson understood the power of communications and the media, using his wealth and newspaper empire to influence American public opinion.
In August 2014, he and Israel brought together hundreds of Israeli students to help develop an app aimed at countering the negative global reaction to the 2014 bombing of the Gaza Strip, which killed more than 2,251 Palestinians, including more than half were civilians.
The app, called ACT.IL – IT stands for Israel’s Internet designation – prompted its more than 3,000 users at the time to post favorable comments to the country on dozens of news and social media sites.
In 2015, Adelson hosted an activist conference at his Las Vegas casino to counter the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
As a result, more than 28 U.S. states have passed legislation that punishes any contractor or employee, in various ways depending on the state, if they do not speak out against the boycott of Israel.
The first anti-BDS law was passed in Tennessee in April 2015, followed by South Carolina and Illinois, with 13 more states in 2016, nine in 2017 and three more since, including South Dakota in January 2020.
The anti-BDS campaign, called Campus Maccabees, was funded by a $ 50 million donation from Adelson.
He used his money to directly influence members of Congress during their election campaigns.
He has donated over $ 120 million, according to Federal Election Commission records, to 180 Republican candidates for Congress and the Senate, and several conservative super-political action committees, including Preserve America and the RJC Victory Fund. .
Author and producer Reza Aslan tweeted: “Hard to think of a single more destructive force in US politics than Sheldon Adelson, who spent billions to make the world a worse place before leaving it in ruins.”
Trump issued a statement lamenting Adelson’s passing, but there was no immediate comment from President-elect Joe Biden.