Sheldon Adelson
Sheldon AdelsonReuters

In his latest column, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman depicts billionaire Sheldon Adelson in much the same way that anti-Semites have depicted Jews for centuries – a “swaggering oligarch” using huge sums of money to control the US, or more specifically – the Republican party.

Adelson — “the foolhardy Las Vegas casino magnate and crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist,” Friedman accused – “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.”

The latest instance of Republican kowtowing to Adelson, according to Friedman, was the RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition) retreat last weekend at an Adelson casino in Las Vegas. He quoted Politico, which reported that “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 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,” he added.

In his speech, Christie referred to Judea and Samaria as “occupied territories” — setting off “murmurs in the crowd,” Friedman quoted Politico. “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,” wrote Friedman gloatingly. Friedman – who is a Jew himself – brought no evidence to show that money is any more of a factor in today's political world than it always was, or that Arabs do not use their money to influence politics as well.

Adelson's Yisrael Hayom newspaper has effected a major change in Israel's political scene in the past seven years, by breaking the leftist media's monolpoly on mainstream news in Israel. The newspaper is seen as largely pro-Netanyahu.