Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
Sheldon Adelson and Bibi Netanyahu clearly view Israel’s internal threats and terrorist challenges from the same perspective. People may disagree with their views but theirs is a legitimate viewpoint. It is also accepted knowledge that Adelson has invested not only in a major free Israeli daily newspaper which supports his right wing perspective, but has made significant financial contributions to Netanyahu’s political campaigns. All of this may be offensive to some but it does not directly affect the American Jewish community or American politics.
For a number of years now it has also been suggested that Adelson’s support for Bibi has carried with it a not so hidden agenda. The Prime Minister may actually believe that Republican Party officials, leaders, and members are better friends and supporters of Israel than are today’s Democrats. At least in part, it has been suggested, some of Bibi’s hostility towards the Democrats and affection for Republicans has been fueled by wanting to do Adelson’s bidding. The contretemps created last year involving Speaker Boehner over Bibi’s speech to Congress on the Iran agreement was not only a matter of substance for both men but one of style as well.
Stirring up ill will toward Obama, has very much been the mantra of Adelson and his willingness to endorse Donald Trump now will undoubtedly encourage Bibi to put out the red carpet for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee should he actually travel to Israel this summer. Instead of following the words which he at least has mouthed in the past concerning a desire to stay out of American electoral politics, it is clear that Netanyahu has consistently endeavored to try to play a role influencing American Jews and their leadership’s political preferences.
There is, however, an interesting evolving theme in this year’s political campaign which to date both Adelson and Bibi appear prepared to ignore despite the fact that as a general rule this is a critical issue on both of their agendas; the growth of anti-Semitic rhetoric that has developed in the Trump campaign and among his supporters. Not only have both Adelson and Netanyahu not addressed this issue, but they are unwilling to call Trump and his team to task for their failings to disassociate themselves from the anti-Jewish hate speech being spewed out and that has grown even more intense over the past few weeks.
The level of racism which is pervading the Trump campaign is disturbing to all Americans. Even Speaker Ryan who endorsed Trump last week and Republican Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona (who has not endorsed Trump) among others, have indicated that Trump’s attack on U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel was totally unacceptable; as was his suggested possible disqualification of Muslim judges. Netanyahu and Adelson both know that the attack against Jews will not be far behind; even if he has a daughter who converted to Judaism and has Jewish grandchildren.
It would appear that their rejection of Obama and Clinton as well as the Democratic Party transcends what is best for American Jews. This type of thinking also will be bad for Jews and Israel.