The Israeli lobby contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Trump campaign in the final weeks ahead of the crucial US presidential elections, reports Israeli writer and editor Philip Weiss
Philip Weiss | Mondoweiss
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]owever dubious big Republican supporters of Israel felt about Donald Trump, in the last weeks of the election campaign many of them gave a lot of money to the Republican Party; and Sheldon Adelson and his wife gave $10 million to a pro-Trump PAC.
In September, Adelson and his wife Miriam gave $10 million to Future45, a pac led by the founder of TD Ameritrade that directly helped Trump during the campaign. The Adelson contribution was the lion’s share of Future45’s revenues of $13 million.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson gave another $15 million to a Republican Senate campaign superpac on October 24, its largest donation. An “astonishing” surge of funding to the Senate Leadership superpac in the weeks before the election included many contributions from Israel supporters:
Israel is the only issue for the casino magnate Adelson and his wife. In 2013, he called on President Obama to nuke Iran. The last time he gave a lot of money to a winning horse, the horse in question, George W. Bush, stocked his administration with neoconservatives, and we all remember how that turned out.
Two other Israel supporters also contributed to the 2016 Senate leadership superpac:
Billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman contributed $2.2 million on Oct. 25, while hedge fund manager Paul Singer of Elliott Management chipped in $2 million a day later.
Schwarzman, who has been less active as a donor than Adelson or Singer, will head a forum that will advise Trump on business policy.
Singer, who once said Trump’s policies would lead to a global depression, has warmed to him more since his election. He attended a fundraising breakfast for Trump this week and plans to donate to his inauguration.
Sam Fox of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a big backer of Israel, gave a total of $500,000 to the Senate superpac.
It’s often noted that pro-Israel groups like to support candidates across the spectrum so that no one in national office doesn’t feel obligated to them. Tom Friedman has said that the Congress is “bought and paid for” by the Israel lobby. That pattern held this year.
As for the Future45 presidential superpac, other leading rightwing Jewish supporters of Israel gave to it too, but in 2015, according to federal filings, evidently before it had aligned with Trump. Singer gave $250,000; Roger Hertog of the neoconservative Manhattan Institute gave $50,000; Ron Weiser, who is on the board of the pro-Israel Republican Jewish Coalition, gave $100,000.
A month after Adelson’s gift to the superpac, Trump had a rally at a Las Vegas Adelson hotel on October 30, in which he praised Adelson. Fox:
“I’d like to thank the owner of this great hotel, and his incredible wife – she’s an incredible woman – Sheldon Adelson,” Trump said to cheers. “Really incredible people and they’ve been so supportive and we appreciate it.”
Trump has many rightwing supporters of Israel in his circle, including strategist and Islamophobe Steve Bannon, son-in-law Jared Kushner (who fired me over this blog at the New York Observer in 2007), and foreign policy adviser David Friedman.
This election has divided Jews publicly. Many Israeli Jews are embracing Trump. But about 75 percent of American Jews voted for Hillary Clinton in November. “They aren’t just against Trump, they are adamantly opposed to this man, the way he ran his campaign and the values he ran on,” Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street said last week.
A symptom of the division is Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post, who is feverishly pro-Israel and anti-Trump. She has called on evangelical Christians to “atone” for supporting Donald Trump. What would she tell his Jewish supporters to do?
Thanks to Yakov Hirsch and James North.
Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net