Are Sheldon Adelson’s Huge Contributions to Trump Bad For Jews?

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The rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and the schism between the majority of American Jews are going to become broader and more polarized thanks to the announcement that 84-year-old billionaire Sheldon Adelson is planning on giving at least $100 million to the Trump campaign and the Republicans.

According to an article in The Guardian, “The billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an ardent pro-Israel conservative, is expected to donate at least $100 million to boost Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election efforts and Republican congressional candidates this fall, say three Republican fundraisers familiar with Adelson’s initial plans.

“Adelson’s hefty checks are expected to be written to several Super Pacs – political groups that have to disclose their donors – as well as “dark money” not-for-profit organizations that can keep their donors secret, say the fundraisers.

“One source predicted that Adelson, who in tandem with his Israeli-born wife, Miriam, donated more than $100m to Super PACs and dark money groups in each of the last two presidential cycles, could wind up contributing close to $200m in 2020 given their recent spending patterns and appreciation for Trump’s policies.

The article noted, “Adelson and his wife have been opening their wallets wider in the Trump era.”

Sheldon Adelson Backing Bad People

Backing Republican conservative candidates is nothing new for Adelson.  In 2012, he donated $150 million to block the election of “socialist” and “anti-Israel” candidate Barack Obama.  He also backed Newt Gingrich for president in 2012.  As Speaker of the House, Gingrich transformed Congress by endorsing government

Newt Gingrich

shutdowns, and was found guilty of numerous ethical violations, including being caught in an extramarital affair with a congressional employee 23 years younger than him. This forced Gingrich to resign from his speakership in November 1998, followed by his complete resignation from the House in January 1999. Gingrich is credited with causing open dissent between Democrats and Republicans, and his tirades and disdain for Democrats became his trademark political contribution. This is the guy Adelson supported for president.

Adelson’s money has also been used to fund Trump’s Mideast policy, including walking away from the Iran nuclear deal, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and pushing for the appointment of the conservative John Bolton to a cabinet position.

Bad News for the Jewish Community?

Adelson’s enormous contributions raise other upsetting issues. Here are some:

  • Adelson’s motivations for his unprecedented contributions are ostensible to generate pro-Israel support from the Trump administration. But are there other goals? AIPAC is widely regarded as being one of the most influential lobbying groups in Washington for pro-Israel issues but has recently been criticized as being too politically conservative and attractive to U.S. right-wing groups. Are Adelson’s contributions coordinated with AIPAC, and have they been met to align goals and lobbying efforts?  AIPAC says it is non-partisan, but their efforts may appear to be compromised if they worked with the pro-Trump Adelson efforts.
  • How does Adelson know his money is not going to find its way to support white supremacist groups that may be working under the Republican political umbrella? Since Adelson began to make his vast contributions to Republicans, the number of anti-Semitic incidents has been increasing.  Adelson does not make contributions without having strings attached, so how do his enormous contributions parallel the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and incidents nationwide?
  • How should the overwhelming population of liberal Jews who are Democrats react to Adelson’s strong support of the most corrupt presidential administration in history? Adelson does not care about the opinions of liberal Democratic Jews, but his contributions are divisive and may give rise to internal Jewish division.
  • Adelson’s contributions also support anti-reform movements in Israel by buttressing Israeli conservatives. Netanyahu won’t consider more moderate peace concession proposals if he knows Adelson and Trump are his main supporters. Adelson’s money also gives Israelis a distorted image that American Jews support Adelson and that they are also Republican supporters. This only aggravates the schism between many Israelis and American Jews along political lines.
  • Adelson has also become a central symbol for eliminating money in politics. His vast contributions invigorate the movement to repeal Citizens United and insult people who believe Trump committed impeachable offenses.

What’s in It for Sheldon Adelson?

Large Jewish organizations are understandably reluctant to criticize Adelson publicly, but many should wonder what he is trying to accomplish.

Is it a legacy thing?  If so, why not focus his donations on Israeli businesses and charities?  Or does he want to reshape Republican foreign policies by bypassing the US State Department and Congress?

Both can be more expeditious at getting things done. For instance, the US State Department has spent decades ignoring the question of relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem. His money certainly accelerated or prompted this entire move.

However, donating money to the most corrupt administration in history only fosters corruption. His donations are not surgically precise but contribute to an authoritarian administration and an ethically weak and subservient Republican Party. Adelson himself was the target of a corruption lawsuit in 2015 when his gambling company was accused of bribing Chinese officials and working with organized crime in Macau. This event probably gave him something to discuss with Trump.

While his money certainly can have positive benefits, Adelson’s donations to Trump, like his support of the despicable and venal Gingrich for president in 2012, are both mistakes.

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Chuck Epstein has managed marketing communications and public relations departments for major global financial institutions and participated in the launch of industry-changing financial products. He also has written by-lined articles for over 50 publications, five books and served as editor and publisher of nation’s first newsletter on the topic of using the PC for personal investing and trading. (“Investing Online, 1994-1999). He also is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker on topics related to investor protection and opportunities in the very dynamic cannabis industry. He has held senior-level marketing, PR and communications positions at the New York Futures Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Lind-Waldock, Zacks Investment Research, Russell Investments and Principal Financial. He has won national awards from the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) and his web site, www.mutualfundreform.com, was named best small blog in 2009 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

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