LAS VEGAS — Some of Zionism’s wealthiest supporters will gather in Las Vegas this weekend to consider how they can most efficiently use their money to undermine the growing support for Palestinian liberation on college campuses and throughout American society.
Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul and frequent big-dollar donor to conservative political candidates, called for the private summit at the Venetian, Adelson’s luxury hotel on the Vegas Strip, to gather top donors and pro-Israeli organizations to plan better ways to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, particularly its growing support among college and university students.
Supporters of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine are alarmed that a record number of college campuses — 15, up from 13 in the previous year — adopted resolutions during this academic school year demanding that their schools end investment in Israel.
This summit is just one of several recent attempts by the wealthy to undermine support for the BDS movement and improve Israel’s failing image in the United States. In March, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) identified the sources of $10 billion in anti-BDS movement spending, a list that included Adelson. And the WikiLeaks archive of the Sony hack revealed that many top Hollywood figures are seeking ways to use their unique position to create pro-Israeli propaganda.
The wealthy enemies of the BDS movement
In addition to his casino empire, Adelson is known for his monetary support of conservative politicians and causes. Aside from generous donations to candidates like Newt Gingrich and George W. Bush, he has spent millions opposing the legalization of cannabis and fighting online gambling.
Adelson also owns the conservative Israeli newspaper Maariv and Israel HaYom, a controversial free daily paper that’s been called a “danger to democracy” for its ability to manipulate voters to support politicians like Benjamin Netanyahu. Because Israeli law prevents Adelson from directly donating to Israeli campaigns, he uses this free paper to sway elections instead. The American Prospect’s Gershom Gorenberg described Adelson as having a “uniquely pernicious” influence on Israeli politics that’s believed to cost $3 million a month in losses.
Adelson’s casino holdings have been the subject of past criminal probes. He’s not the only one of the summit’s organizers facing federal scrutiny, however. Another key supporter of the summit, Adam Milstein, was convicted of felony tax fraud in 2009 — after which Israeli officials intervened on his behalf. He is known for pouring millions of dollars into anti-Palestinian causes.
Another organizer, Haim Saban, previously compared former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Hitler, based on his belief that any U.S. support for Iran will lead to the extermination of the Jewish people. (It’s worth noting that he maintains this notion, despite Iran having the second largest Jewish population next to Israel, and despite Iran being a place where Jews may live and practice their religion freely and even hold a place in parliament.)
Nathan Guttman, writing for Forward, reports:
“Saban has spoken to Israeli officials, including the former ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and top officials in the Israeli foreign ministry, about setting up a special task force to deal with increased calls on campuses to adopt measures of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.”
Pro-Israel groups invited to join the summit include “Hillel, StandWithUs, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America.”
That the BDS movement continues to grow internationally despite increasing pushback is a testament to the power of justice over money, no matter how many billions Adelson and his ilk pour into opposing this cause.