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NY Mag: Sheldon Adelson Is Ready to Buy the Presidency

From Jason Zengerle writing at New York magazine:

In a few weeks, when the nuclear deal Barack Obama negotiated with Iran comes before Congress, it’s all but certain that not a single Republican will vote in support of it. With the possible exception of Maine’s Susan Collins, who has yet to reveal her position, each of the 246 Republicans in the House and 53 Republicans in the Senate has indicated his or her opposition to the deal. Not that a mere vote could possibly express the intensity of even that unanimous opposition — or the fervid support for Israel that lies behind it. “It is a fundamental betrayal of the security of the United States and of our closest allies, first and foremost Israel,” Texas senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz has said. Cruz’s 16 Republican-primary opponents have denounced the deal in similar terms. One of them, Mike Huckabee, has gone so far as to argue that Obama “will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

American Jews are not hard-liners on Israel. Obama won 69 percent of Jewish voters in 2012, even as American conservatives accused him of purposefully undermining the country’s security and status in the region. Indeed, according to a 2013 Pew study, only one in three American Jews feel a strong emotional attachment to the Jewish state. But over the past 30 years, and especially in the last decade, the GOP’s attachment to Israel has become remarkably fierce, to an extent that is basically unprecedented in modern American politics. On issue after issue — from military aid to settlement policy — the GOP now offers Israel unconditional and unquestioning support, so much so that some Republicans now liken the country to America’s “51st state.” The person most responsible for this development is the multi­billionaire casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson, who grew up poor in the Dorchester section of Boston and never graduated from college, made and lost several fortunes before he struck it rich for good in 1979 by developing the Las Vegas computer trade show Comdex with a few partners. Ten years later, Adelson and his partners spent $128 million to buy Las Vegas’s Sands Hotel and Casino, which he used as a toehold to steadily expand his — and the company’s — gaming operations. Today, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, of which Adelson is, at 82, still the chairman and CEO, is a publicly traded company with massive hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, China, and Singapore. According to Forbes, Adelson, who owns a majority of Sands stock, is worth about $26 billion; he is said to keep close tabs on where he ranks on the magazine’s listing of billionaires, which is calculated daily, mentioning to associates when he has moved up. And although his ranking has slipped a bit in recent years — once in the top ten, he is currently 18th on that list — Adelson has been known to boast that he is still “the richest Jew in the world.”

Read the rest of the story at New York magazine.

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