Kenneth Vogel is leading Politico this morning with a feature piece about Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire who hosted the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring leadership meeting this past weekend at his hotel and casino, the Venetian, in Las Vegas.
Vogel’s piece faithfully captures the hostile and quasi-conspiratorial spirit of most of the mainstream media coverage of the event. (He even admits trying to crash a private board meeting and being personally ejected by Adelson himself–a stunt that is borderline unethical, even if admirable in its chutzpah.)
Throughout the piece, however, there is something that Vogel doesn’t get about Adelson and the RJC–and it is something that was missing from most of the media coverage of the conference as well. What Vogel fails to note is the strong emphasis at the conference on American security, not just Israel’s.
The audience applauded vigorously when Ambassador John Bolton called for a foreign policy that put U.S. interests first, for example–a line Vogel evidently missed while trying to catch every Adelson reference in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s speech.
There is a reason that Jews (though less so, especially lately, among liberals, Democrats, and the media) prefer a strong U.S., and it is not just because of Israel.
The most horrific period in the history of the Jewish people occurred at a time when America withdrew from the world and left the dictators of Europe and Asia to sort out their own problems. American withdrawal led, indirectly, to the near-extermination of European Jews. American strength–personified, for many Jews, in images of G.I.’s liberating the camps–was our salvation.
So there is a strong fear, among many Jews, of American weakness–an anxiety that happens to involve Israel, because that is where Jewish destiny is being decided.
For those Jews, particularly those who are active in the RJC, a strong America is an existential priority. Not just for Israel, not only for strong patriotic reasons, but also because of a bone-deep conviction that American weakness leads to destruction.
That is what Vogel and many of the so-called “quality reporters” miss in their eagerness to echo the narrative of Adelson as Zionist plutocrat.