Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law School professor, liberal Democrat, and pro-Israel icon, has warned fellow Democrats to stop attacking Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who has emerged as the top Republican donor in the 2012 election cycle. President Barack Obama's campaign manager, Jim Messina, signaled last week that the Obama campaign was adding Adelson to the list of private citizens it has targeted for attack, alongside the Koch brothers and Karl Rove. In tandem, the National Jewish Democratic Council began a petition drive aimed at pressuring Mitt Romney and the Republican Party to return and refuse "dirty money" from Adelson.
The claim of "dirty money" comes from an accusation, cited in the left-wing Huffington Post and made in a lawsuit by a former Adelson employee who was fired, that Adelson personally approved of "personally approved of prostitution and knew of other improper activity at his company's properties in the Chinese enclave" of Macau.
Dershowitz has criticized National Jewish Democratic Council president David Harris for basing his attacks on this claim "even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has [Harris] never heard of 'due process' or the 'presumption of innocence'?" Citing Adelson's work on behalf of pro-Israel causes, as well as his philanthropy in the United States, Dershowitz slammed Harris and his Democratic organization for maligning a man whose "generosity has helped repair the world."
Noting that he disagrees politically with Adelson, Dershowitz called the attacks on Adelson "outrageous":
I am a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson's political views, but I think it's outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson's contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community. I don't know who Harris purports to speak for as President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely "Jewish" about the questionable allegations against him.
In addition, Dershowitz added, if Democrats wanted to fight a misogynistic donor to political super PACs, they need look no further than television host Bill Maher, whose money they have enthusiastically accepted: "I'm sure that if the Democrats were to apply David Harris' 'Adelson test' to all the contributions they have received from Hollywood moguls and other wealthy business people, they wouldn't like the results." He urged "extremists" from both parties to stop campaigns against contributors to their political rivals.