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Sheldon Adelson: The Worst Friend Israel Can Have

April 6, 2014

Boorish bigots, regardless of how rich they are, can prove to be more dangerous and destructive to the very people and 120606_sheldon_adelson_ap_605causes they support than the enemies they seek to defeat.  Sheldon Adelson is a case in point.  When I lived and worked for the Jewish community of Las Vegas, I saw first hand how autocratic and undermining Adelson was to all the Jewish organizations and charities he supported.

His efforts to “buy the White House” in the 2012 elections and his ongoing efforts to own Israeli media outlets undermines free-speech and democracy in both countries.  

Kudos to Tom Friedman for taking Adelson on is such a public forum as the New York Times.


Sheldon: Iran’s Best FriendFriedman_New-thumbLarge

IT occurred to me the other day that the zealously pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah AliKhamenei, actually have one big thing in common. They are both trying to destroy Israel. Adelson is doing it by loving Israel to death andKhamenei by hating Israel to death. And now even Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey inadvertently got drawn into this craziness.What’s the logic? Very simple. Iran’s leaders want Israel destroyed but have no desire, in my view, to use a nuclear bomb to do it. That would expose them to retaliation and sure death. Their real strategy is more subtle: Do everything possible to ensure that Israel remains in the “occupied territory,” as the U.S. State Department refers to the West Bank, won by Israel in the 1967 war. By supporting Palestinian militants dedicated to destroying any peace process, Tehran hopes to keep Israel permanently mired in the West Bank and occupying 2.7 million Palestinians, denying them any statehood and preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state that might recognize Israel and live in peace alongside it. The more Israel is stuck there, the more Palestinians and the world will demand a “one-state solution,” with Palestinians given the right to vote. The more Israel resists that, the more isolated it becomes.

Iran and its ally Hamas have plenty of evidence that this strategy is working: Israel’s 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank has led it to build more settlements there and in doing so make itself look like the most active colonial power on the planet today. The 350,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank reinforce that view by claiming their presence in the West Bank is not about security but a divinely inspired project to reunite the Jewish people with their biblical homeland.

The result is a growing movement on college campuses and in international organizations to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state because of this occupation. This “B.D.S. movement” — to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel — is gaining adherents not only among non-Jews on American campuses but even within some Hillels, campus Jewish centers.

Iran could not be happier. The more Israel sinks into the West Bank, the more it is delegitimized and isolated, the more the world focuses on Israel’s colonialism rather than Iran’s nuclear enrichment, the more people call for a single democratic state in all of historic Palestine.

And now Iran has an ally: Sheldon Adelson — the foolhardy Las Vegas casino magnate and crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist. Adelson gave away some $100 million in the last presidential campaign to fund Republican candidates, with several priorities in mind: that they delegitimize the Palestinians and that they avoid any reference to the West Bank as “occupied territories” and any notion that the U.S. should pressure Israel to trade land for peace there. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney took the money and played by Sheldon’s rules.

In case you missed it, the R.J.C., the Republican Jewish Coalition, held a retreat last weekend at an Adelson casino in Las Vegas. It was dubbed “the Sheldon Primary.” Republicans lined up to compete for Adelson’s blessing and money, or as Politico put it: “Adelson summoned [Jeb] Bush and Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin to Las Vegas. … The new big-money political landscape — in which a handful of donors can dramatically alter a campaign with just a check or two — explains both the eagerness of busy governors to make pilgrimages to Las Vegas, and the obsession with divining Adelson’s 2016 leanings.”

Adelson also reportedly demanded that the potential Republican nominees also agree to oppose online gambling.Is Adelson’s enticing the…

Adelson personifies everything that is poisoning our democracy and Israel’s today — swaggering oligarchs, using huge sums of money to try to bend each system to their will.Christie, in his speech, referred to the West Bank as “occupied territories” — as any knowledgeable American leader would. This, Politico said, “set off murmurs in the crowd.” Some Republican Jews explained to Christie after he finished that he had made a terrible faux pas. (He called something by its true name and in the way the U.S. government always has!) The West Bank should be called “disputed territories” or “Judea and Samaria,” the way hard-line Jews prefer. So, Politico reported, Christie hastily arranged a meeting with Adelson to explain that he misspoke and that he was a true friend of Israel. “The New Jersey governor apologized in a private meeting in the casino mogul’s Venetian office shortly afterward,” Politico reported. It said Adelson “accepted” Christie’s “explanation” and “quick apology.”

Read that sentence over and contemplate it.

I don’t know if Israel has a Palestinian partner for a secure withdrawal from the West Bank, or ever will. But I know this: If Israel wants to remain a Jewish, democratic state, it should be doing everything it can to nurture such a partner or acting unilaterally to get out. Because, I’m certain that when reports about the “Adelson primary” reached the desk of Supreme Leader Khamenei in Tehran, a big smile crossed his face and he said to his aides: “May Allah grant Sheldon a long life. Everything is going according to plan.”

Have human sacrifices really been outlawed in America?

March 28, 2014

almighty dollar


Let me see if I’ve got this right:  Republicans, religious and economic conservatives genuinely believe that the free enterprise works best with limited government regulation.   They are quite sure that if we let the private sector operate unfettered, the holy job creators will make more money, create more jobs and everyone will benefit.   So let’s not regulate the free enterprise system so employers and corporations don’t have to:

  1. Pay workers a living wage
  2. Provide workers with benefits like health care and pensions
  3. Pay their fair share in taxes
  4. Concern themselves with  government regulations regarding worker safety, how their products or system of production  impact the environment, not have to deal with government regulations related to product quality and safety .


What do y’a think: Is that kind of reasoning a reflection of how stupid they think everyone we are?  How stupid and naive they are? Or, how confident they are that they have the political power and influence to shape legislation that makes it possible for them to maximize profits at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment, etc.?

But thank you Supreme Court of the United States (SCOUS) for telling us that corporations are entitled to the same free speech privileges as individuals.  Do you really think that your decision is going to advance the interests of the American people? Corporations? BTW SCOUS, who do you work for?

But then again, Republicans politicians don’t mind government interference in the market place when it’s done to protect the financial interests of the rich and powerful who pay their campaign bills.  Do they?  Case and point:

New Jersey kills the electric car — is Ohio next?

And now SCOUS has yet another opportunity to shoot holes in the myth of the conservative commitment to individual rights by considering the religious rights corporations.  Yes folks, that’s right.  The religious-right that likes to tell you who you can sleep with, what birth control you may use and what rights a woman has when it comes to her body want you to now believe that religious freedom isn’t  just for individuals, it applies to corporations as well.  In fact, the businesses they own have a right to dictate religious dogma to their employees.

How many conservatives does it take to spell the word H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E?   As many Bill O’Reilly’s and Rush Limbaugh’s as it takes to remind grass-roots/tea-party Americans that only Muslims and communists would dare regulate the private sector in such a way as to limit profits or extend freedoms contrary to the beliefs and practices of  white, religious conservative Christians.




Hobby Lobby Invested In Numerous Abortion And Contraception Products While Claiming Religious Objection

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Arafat’s Tomb: Relax, It Was Just Another Site on the Tour

March 23, 2014

A dozen or so years ago I was thrilled to find myself as a professional in the service of the first Jewish Federation in North America to provide a funding grant for a program in Israel that included both Jewish and Arab children. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the decision of the Jewish Federation of San Francisco to offer financial assistance to a Jerusalem based pre-school program that accepted both, Jewish and Palestinian children touched a nerve in a few people.

I myself fielded a phone call from a local Holocaust survivor who to this day still writes and pays to have anti-Arab diatribes published in Jewish newspapers across the U.S.: “Why is the Federation giving my money to the enemy of the Jewish people?” he demanded.  “We’re not giving money to any enemy of the Jewish people.  We’re helping to fund a pre-school program that includes both Jewish and non-Jewish children” I responded.  The fact that Jewish-money was being earmarked to provide any kind of service to Arab children left my caller and other angry Jewish tribalists unconvinced of what many of us viewed as a well intended effort to build benign peace bridges between communities.

Since then, the government of Israel has itself welcomed and encouraged other Jewish Federations and philanthropists to help with funding similar programs that create opportunities for Israeli and Palestinian children to get to know one another.  One such program is the “Harvard College Israel Trek” which is co-sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Boston and Harvard Hillel.

The Trek, as it is called, is planned and lead by a number of Jewish students, 4 of whom this year are former members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as well as other knowledgeable campus Jewish student leaders.  The leadership group are adept at giving Israel’s side of the story in the P.R. wars and actively work to counter the efforts of other students and academics on campus who promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the Jewish State.  

The purpose of the Trek  is to inform and enlighten 50 non-Jewish Harvard students:  What does Israel mean to the Jewish people?  What has it accomplished in just 66 years?  Trek participants are afforded an opportunity to meet with Israelis in all walks of life.  The trip is carefully planned to present both, the best of Israel as well as the many challenges confronting this multi-cultural society that is flourishing in a corner of the world that is hostile to its very existence and remains estranged from appreciating how a democracy functions.

In addition to meeting with members of the Knesset in Jerusalem, Trek students recently met with officials of the Palestinian Authority at the Mukataa, the P.A. government offices in Ramallah.  While at the Mukatta the Trek group took a few moments to visit the grave of Yasser Arafat where a group photo was taken.  The visit to Arafat’s grave was neither planned or intended to honor the memory of the founder of the Palestinian Authority, it was as matter-of-fact sight-seeing event suggested by the P.A. officials they were meeting with.

50 Harvard Trek participants pose with their PA hosts at the tomb of Yassir Arafat.

As is apt to happen with sensational pictures and carefully edited stories, the picture of the Trek participants at Arafat’s grave went viral on social media without any information about the nature and purpose of the Trek program other than the fact that it was co-sponsored by the CJF of Boston and Harvard Hillel.


Trolls and reactionary conservative supporters of Israel who need to believe that most Arabs are evil terrorists committed to killing Jews, smelled blood and went in for the kill.  How dare CJF and Harvard Hillel honor the memory of Yasser Arafat!

No one at CJF or Harvard Hillel approved of or is happy with the group picture at Arafat’s grave.  After all, for most Jews and many Gentiles, Arafat will be remembered as one of the most heinous terrorists in modern history.

We Jews and loyal friends of Israel cannot deny that most Palestinians have a very different take on Arafat’s legacy.   In the cause of Palestinian nationalism, the man you and I consider a murderer is viewed as a hero and the founding father of their nation. Shall we tell millions of Palestinians that until such time as their share our perspective on Arafat we can’t speak to them or try to live together in peace?

The Trek mission to Israel was no more about paying tribute Yasser Arafat than a tourist visiting the grave of any other reagan101207famous historical figure. The fact that these 5o students had their picture taken at Arafat’s grave was certainly less remarkable and intentional than say, President Ronald Reagan placing a wreath at Bitburg Cemetery in Germany where 49 Nazis SS officers are buried.

Good or bad, Yasser Arafat is a fact of history in the Middle East. The much-ado, over the top reaction to the Trek photo serves as a reminder of the kind of militant, angry, intolerant tribalism that exists in the Jewish community.  

Jewish hostility towards programs like the Trek and to the two-state solution many of us believe is essential to creating a permanent peace between Israel and Palestinians serve to remind us  that even among the victims of bigotry and genocide are people who are not immune from profiling and designating all members of a group as untrustworthy and dangerous.

As we struggle to imagine the possibility of Israel existing alongside a State of Palestine, we might want to remember that if guilt by historical association is enough reason to reject a person or group, Israel had better give back the billions of dollars it has received over the decades from the German people not to mention the 4 out of 5 cars and trucks in Israel that were made in the homeland of the Third Reich.  

Anyone who studies Torah knows all to well that God has high hopes for the Jewish people. Those Divine aspirations certainly don’t include playing the role of a bitter, unforgiving, militant victim.  Yes, anti-Semitism is alive and well all over the world and in the Arab world in particular.  That said, the State of Israel with its remarkable flourishing democracy, powerful military, renown universities and cutting edge technology industries is a testament to Jewish survival and our victory over those who have tried to destroy us time and again. The Jewish people have earned the right to be confident, humble victors who have much to teach the world about compassion, forgiveness, equality and justice.

The Next Time You’re Feeling Sad or Angry, Look at These Pics!

March 22, 2014

(Reprinted from

Children love animals, the bond that is usually formed between a child and pet as they grow up is often said to be a huge factor in a child’s emotional development. These 25 pictures of babies with their pets will demonstrate that fact without the need to read any child psychology textbooks.




























Blessed are you, our God, King of the Universe, who has such [beautiful things] in His universe.

Thank You Sir Paul!

March 18, 2014

Thank You Sir Paul!

Why Doesn’t Chris Christie Include the Electric Car Industry In His Definition of Free Enterprise?

March 13, 2014


Are you familiar with how the auto industry tried to put the brakes on the creation of public transportation in the early part of the 20th Century in the hope that their efforts would result in more car sales?

As Gomer Pyle would say, SURPRISE-SURPRISE-SURPRISE!  American oligarchs and their servants in the Republican Party are at it again.  They want to make sure that Americans don’t get too serious about electric cars  that might help the environment and deplete the profits of the Koch brothers and their golf buddies in the energy industry.

Don’t you just love how Republicans sanctify the free-enterprise system in one breath and try to kill it when ordered to do so by their biggest campaign donors? 

(reprinted from Daily Kos)

Gov. Chris Christie has passed a regulation that blocks automakers from directly selling to consumers in New Jersey, requiring them to go through third-party car dealers instead.

As a direct result, Tesla—the electric car company that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels—must now close its two dealerships in the state.

New Jersey is the third state to kick out Tesla that way, the other two being Arizona and Texas. It is an intentional move on the part of Republican politicians to kill the electric car.

SIGN THE PETITION denouncing Gov. Christie for killing the electric car in New Jersey:

PBS to Air: The Story of the Jews With Simon Schama

March 12, 2014
The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama will air March 25, 8-10 p.m. ET (episodes 1 and 2) and April 1, 8-11 p.m. ET (episodes 3, 4 and 5).

Simon Schama presents The Story of the Jews – a five-part look at 3,000 years of Jewish history and the impact the Jews have made on the world  to air March 25 and April 1 at 8 pm on PBS

Prize-winning author of 15 books and Emmy Award-winner Simon Schama brings to life Jewish history and experience in a new five-part documentary series, The Story of the Jews with Simon Schama, premiering Tuesdays, March 25, 8-10 p.m. ET (episodes 1 and 2) and April 1, 8-11 p.m. ET (episodes 3, 4 and 5) on PBS (check local listings)The five-hour series follows Schama – who has written and presented 50 documentaries on art, literature and history and is a contributing editor of the Financial Times, as he travels from Russia and the Ukraine to Egypt, Israel and Spain, exploring the imprint that Jewish culture has made on the world and the drama of suffering, resilience and rebirth that has gone with it.

The series is, at the same time, a personal journey for Schama, who has been immersed in Jewish history since his postwar childhood; a meditation on its dramatic trajectory; and a macro-history of a people whose mark on the world has been out of all proportion to its modest numbers.

“If you were to remove from our collective history,” said Schama, “the contribution Jews have made to human culture, our world would be almost unrecognizable. There would be no monotheism, no written Bible, and our sense of modernity would be completely different. So the history of the Jews is everyone’s history too and what I hope people will take away from the series is that sense of connection: a weave of cultural strands over the millennia, some brilliant, some dark, but resolving into a fabric of thrilling, sometimes tragic, often exalted creativity.”

The Story of the Jews draws on primary sources that include the Elephantine papyri, a collection of 5th-century BC manuscripts illuminating the life of a town of Jewish soldiers and their families in ancient Egypt; the astonishing trove of documents — the Cairo Geniza — recording the world of the medieval Jews of the Mediterranean and Near East; the records of disputations between Christians and Jews in Spain; correspondence between the leader of the Arab revolt during World War I, Emir Feisal, and the leader of the Zionist movement, Chaim Weizmann.

Schama talks about the turning points of the drama with living witnesses like Aviva Rahamim, who, as a 14-year-old, walked across the Sudanese desert to try and reach Israel; Yakub Odeh, the Palestinian whose village was destroyed in the war of 1948; and Levana Shamir, whose family members were imprisoned in Egypt at the same time. He debates the meaning of new archaeological discoveries of the Biblical period with Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University; the Dead Sea Scrolls with their chief curator Pnina Shor; the character of the Talmud with Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic; the photographic record of Israel’s history with Micha Bar Am; German cultural treasures from Enlightenment Germany and the music of Felix Mendelssohn with the critic Norman Lebrecht.

The series, first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC in fall 2013, was acclaimed in the British press as “an astonishing achievement, a TV landmark, idiosyncratic, accessible but always authoritative.”  It includes new archaeological research that is transforming our understanding of the earliest world of the Jews, and highlights evidence from the visual arts — synagogue mosaics, spectacularly illustrated Bibles, the brilliantly colorful decoration of synagogues (contrary to impressions of a monochrome religion), as well as the glorious music that carried Jewish traditions through the centuries.

Whether he’s amid the stones of 11th-century Judea, the exuberantly decorated cemeteries of Ukrainian hasidic rabbis, the parlors of Moses Mendelssohn’s Berlin or the streets of immigrant New York, Schama brings together memory and actuality, past and present, sorrows and celebrations, vindications and challenges and makes felt the beating pulse of an epic of endurance that has been like no other — a story that belongs to everyone.


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