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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Adelson’

Adelson: From Caricature to Life

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

In the interests of full disclosure, let me first offer that Sheldon Adelson and members of his family donated to my campaign for Congress when I ran last year (yes, I know I lost. But ‘Shmuley for President 2016’ is just three years away). Furthermore, as was widely reported, he and his wife Miriam donated to an independent Super Pac that backed my candidacy.

In addition, on June 4th in Times Square the organization of which I am Executive Director, This World: The Values Network, together with Rambam hospital in Haifa — one of the Middle East’s largest and most respected medical campuses — will be hosting an International Champions of Jewish Values Awards Gala. The honorees are some of the world’s most distinguished individuals, with Nobel Laureate (and my personal hero and mentor) Prof. Elie Wiesel being given the “Champion of Jewish Spirit” award, and my friend Dr. Mehmet Oz, the world’s most famous physician, being recognized as “Champion of Human life.” The award for “Champions of Jewish Identity” will go to Sheldon and Miriam Adelson who are being recognized for their vast contributions to Jewish identity worldwide.
Having offered that disclosure, I was happy to see that, as part of Adelson’s recent testimony in a breach of contract lawsuit filed by a former consultant, people were finally able to see the human being that lies behind the caricature.

 On the witness stand, Adelson was humorous, engaging, relaxed, endearing, and utterly himself.  “Even successful companies and wealthy people are entitled to justice,” he said, referring to his reasoning behind taking the stand in his own defense.  His testimony included affable one-liners that could have easily been mistaken for a late night talk show’s opening monologue.  “I came from the other side of the tracks,” he quipped.  “In fact, I came from so far on the other side, I didn’t know the tracks existed.” And again, “I would have been a rags-to-riches story, except my parents couldn’t afford the rags … So I’m a less-than-rags-to-riches story.”

Those of us who know Sheldon have always been amazed at how he is depicted by some in the media as a mean-spirited, heartless mogul pulling political strings and throwing his weight in campaigns in order to elect lawmakers who favor lower taxes.

That fraudulent caricature overlooks the true essence of a man who is one of the world’s most generous benefactors of charitable causes and one of the foremost Jewish philanthropists of all time.  The media neglect to mention that Adelson contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to programs such as Birthright Israel ($180 million), the Adelson Educational Campus ($80 million), Holocaust memory ($50 million to Yad Vashem), and Hebrew Senior Life in Boston ($20 million).

Adelson founded and supports the Adelson Drug Rehabilitation Clinics in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv, run by his wife, a highly respected authority in addiction medicine. Together, Sheldon and Miriam have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to approximately 200 scientists from nearly 70 medical research institutions via the Adelson Medical Foundation, with many of the scientists having lauded their financial support as having changed the ways in which medical research is conducted.  And this is just a snapshot of his charitable giving.

Sheldon and Miriam regularly welcome America’s “Wounded Warriors” for “Salute our Troops” stays at the Venetian and Palazzo hotels in Las Vegas.  The soldiers and their spouses are flown in and provided with weekend accommodations and VIP treatment in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

As a Rabbi I am particularly grateful to the Adelsons for the gargantuan sums they contribute toward programs that foster Jewish identity among the world’s Jewish youth, like Birthright Israel, and I write this column because, although people can strongly disagree with Sheldon’s politics, those of us working in the Jewish community should give thanks to those who love the Jewish people and dedicate their fortunes to seeing an ancient people survive and prosper.

I have twice led Birthright groups to Israel. The program is near miraculous. No people on earth offer its youth a free ten-day trip to an ancestral homeland so that they can soak in their ancient history and values. But without the Adelsons, Birthright would be offering the trip to just a fraction of the more than 350,000 who have already attended.

Yet, in spite of it all the world’s perception of Sheldon Adelson seems mostly shaped by his campaign contributions to the Republican Party. Even the 50,000 jobs he has created thorough Las Vegas Sands has not blighted the concerted assault on his name as he has been depicted as a GOP money man with little regard for the destitute or the poor. But if his agenda is, as some critics say, to hold on to his money, how does that explain the hundreds of millions he continually gives to charity? Could the explanation possibly be that he believes, with other Americans, that private philanthropy is more effective at solving social problems than government bureaucracies? Could it be that his promotion of conservative fiscal policies echoes, as a man who is self-made and whose father drove a cab, a belief in the dignity that comes from personal endeavor and self-reliance? Might it not be possible that he is one who believes that we all seek personal, financial, and spiritual redemption, although we prefer that it come first and foremost through our own devices? And even if people disagree with those conclusions and harbor a markedly different political philosophy, does he deserve to be hated for those principles?

Adelson is also condemned for his strong support of Israel and the more conservative policies of the Netanyahu government. But I too am an advocate of great caution in Israel’s relationship with its neighbors. As a Jew my Torah teaches me, as its first principle, that every Palestinian and Arab, like every Jew, is created in the divine image. We are all equally God’s children. But I share the conviction that Israel’s many attempts at peace and territorial concessions have led, not to an end of conflict, but tragically to dead Jews and a never-ending stream of rockets fired at Israeli hospitals and schools.

Let us also not forget that Adelson criticized many of the social values of the Republican Party (just as I did throughout my campaign) before it became fashionable to do so.

As someone involved in Jewish communal and public affairs, who has advised him to be more proactive in responding to media distortions (as a world-renowned Jewish philanthropist he owes it both to himself and the Jewish community), I have had the opportunity to get to know Adelson on a personal and professional level. Above all is his commitment to family. Here is a man who chose to have two sons at a later age when most men of his wealth are basking in their success on yachts and villas along the French Riviera.

But as a child of divorce perhaps what leads me to most respect Sheldon is the steadfast love and respect on display for his wife at all times. Indeed, in his testimony many of his witticisms were about how much he obeys his wife. When Judge Rob Bare, instructed Adelson to “do one thing at a time” and focus on the line of questioning while refraining from taking notes on the stand, his response was, “Your honor, I think you have something in common with my wife.  She doesn’t want me to do two things at once.”

In a world where many men who make fortunes find it difficult to sustain a commitment to a woman, it’s inspiring to see a billionaire who believes his foremost achievement is his marriage to his wife.

Adelsons Again Donate $500K to Super PAC Supporting Boteach

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife for a second time have given $500,000 to a Super PAC supporting Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s bid for Congress.

The Adelsons gave the money to the Patriot Prosperity PAC, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people with knowledge of the gift, after having given the same amount earlier this year. They also gave $10,000 directly to the Boteach campaign.

Boteach is running as the Republican candidate in New Jersey’s 9th Congressional District against eight-term incumbent Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.).

Boteach, who once was affiliated with the Chabad movement, bills himself as “America’s Rabbi.” He hosts a show on TLC called “Shalom in the Home” and is the author of several books, including “Kosher Sex,” “Kosher Adultery,” “The Kosher Sutra” and, most recently, “Kosher Jesus.”

Adelson has said multiple times that a candidate’s support for Israel is critical to whether he gives and how much. He has given $10 million to a Super PAC supporting Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and earlier in the campaign put $20 million toward Newt Gingrich’s GOP primary bid.

Super PACs can raise unlimited sums from corporations, unions and other groups, as well as individuals, and indirectly support a political candidate. They cannot by law coordinate with the candidate’s official campaign.

What is More Virtuous: Paying Taxes or Giving Charity?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

David Axelrod was manhandled across cyberspace for tweeting an attack against Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson on the morning of September 11th. Let’s be charitable here and forgive Axelrod his breech of etiquette given that campaigns become so intense you can easily get carried away without meaning to. Whatever the case, Axelrod was reacting to a report in the Huffington Post that if Mitt Romney won the election people like the Adelsons could save billions in taxes. The report also said that a repeal of the estate tax could save billions more.

As the Adelsons are arguably the world’s foremost supporters of Jewish causes and charities, this raises for a Rabbi who is also a congressional candidate the question of what is a bigger mitzvah: paying taxes or giving charity. Surely even Axelrod, or other critics of the Adelsons, are not suggesting the couple have a problem parting with their money, as they regularly contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to charity. Rather, the argument is that they should be paying higher taxes, and the payment of higher taxes on the part of the super-rich has been a constant campaign theme.

Mind you, even Obama and Axelrod have their limits. They are not advocating confiscatory taxation as is, say, France’s new President Francois Hollande, whose plans to tax those making more than a million euros per annum at a rate of 75% is already leading to an exodus of the rich. No, President Obama wants the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year leading to a federal tax rate of 39% for those in the highest bracket.

But since America came into being as a protest against unfair taxation, what rate is fair, even for the super-rich? For example, in my home state of New Jersey a millionaire will pay, at present, 35% of his income to the Federal government and then nearly 10% percent to the state, and New Jersey was changed by Democrat Jon Corzine to a net income state, meaning you cannot deduct what you pay in Federal Taxes from your state tax bill. That means about half your income goes to taxation, and that’s before real estate tax (in New Jersey it’s arguably the highest in the nation), sales tax, and the myriad other taxes we each pay on a daily basis (take a look at your monthly cell phone bill to see if you can even count how many taxes there are).

Still we are told that America’s taxes ought to be higher. In New Jersey it hasn’t worked. People are leaving the state because they’re tired of being ripped off. So while we lost a Congressional seat, leading to a terribly bitter Democratic primary here in the 9th district, Florida and Texas, which have no state income tax, added a bunch. When I meet people campaigning, they tell me that taxes are the number one issue for them.

Are American citizens really expected to feel guilty about not paying enough tax? When we see such incredible government waste, should we be eager to fork over more money to see it so much of it squandered?

Take President Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus that seemed to have stimulated only greater American resentment at paying taxes. Nearly a trillion dollars was poured down a sinkhole but produced no jobs or greater economic performance. I even remember reading a story after the package passed in February 2008 of a public school that was sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend. The school responded they didn’t need the money. They had good facilities and new equipment. No matter. They were told they had to spend the stimulus funds.

I remember being deeply upset. I’m an orthodox Jew. I have a right to educate my children in the Jewish tradition, just as Catholic, Islamic, and Christian parents. I send my kids to a Jewish day school. But not a dollar of my hard-earned tax dollars is allowed to pay a single expense at my children’s Yeshivas and Jewish day schools, even for completely secular subjects. Religious parents throughout the country are having fewer children as they struggle to keep up with insanely high taxes and insanely high tuition. Yet here was a school having our tax dollars being shoved down its throat when it didn’t want or need the money.

Ryan Meets Adelson, Discusses a Certain Mid-Eastern Country

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Just four days after being tapped by presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney as his running mate, Paul Ryan met with Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to Republican causes in an effort to defeat President Obama.

Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, met Tuesday with Adelson and other major Republican donors at the casino magnate’s Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.

The New York Times reported that the private meeting was geared in part at assessing the foreign policy views of Ryan, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee, who is better known for his tough proposals to slash government spending.

Romney named Ryan as his vice presidential choice on Saturday in what was seen in part as a bid to consolidate grass-roots conservative support for the ticket. The Romney campaign says it picked up $3.5 million within 24 hours after Romney named Ryan on Saturday.

Adelson, perhaps the biggest single American donor to pro-Israel causes, has pledged up to $100 million to defeat Obama. The billionaire has already contributed more money to defeat Obama than anyone, according to the Times: more than $50 million, including $10 million to a pro-Romney super PAC and $10 million to Crossroads GPS, which is running millions of dollars worth of ads against the president.

That’s out of an estimate total worth of just under $25 billion.

Is Sheldon Adelson Destroying Israel’s Newspapers?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

According to the Israeli financial website Globes, Sheldon Adelson is in advanced negotiations to purchase the Ha’aretz printing plant. The deal is believed to be in the order of $25 million dollars.

Over the past few months, Adelson’s free daily, Yisrael Hayom, has been searching for a new printing facility to replace the Ha’aretz plant where it currently prints its daily freesheet. Ha’aretz’s plant handles the printing for a number of different newspapers.

Adelson had recently been in negotiations with Nochi Dankner, a major shareholder and chairman of publicly traded IDB Group, Israel’s largest diversified business group with assets of more than $30 billion, to purchase Ma’ariv’s Levin Epstein Printing House. But that deal apparently fell through, striking a hard blow for Ma’ariv which is desperately strapped for cash. Ma’ariv has been looking to sell the printing plant and the land it sits on.

Many Israeli newspapers have been firing staff and “streamlining” these past few months. The right-wing Makor Rishon is one notable exception to the rule.

Globes reports that Ha’aretz announced it was firing 70 employees, some 32 from their own paper, and the rest from their financial daily, The Marker. Yediot Achronot will be firing dozens, many of them likely to be dropped from its website Ynet. Ma’ariv recently shut down its weekday print run, and fired 30 employees in June.

Yediot executives are blaming Adelson and Yisrael Hayom for destroying the Israeli newspaper industry, and more specifically, for destroying Ha’aretz and Yediot Achronot with the introduction of the free daily broadsheet.

Dershowitz: NJDC’s David Harris Must Go

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz told Breitbart News that David Harris, head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, must step down.

“David Harris and the National Jewish Democratic Council are a bunch of liars. I, Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat, am calling for David Harris to step down in the interests of the Democratic Party. He’s going to turn Jewish voters away from the Democratic Party. They’re going to vote for the Republicans because of what David Harris and the National Jewish Democratic Council are doing.”

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson has filed a $60 million libel suit against the National Jewish Democratic Council, Chairman Marc R. Stanley, and CEO David Harris. According to the suit, an article posted on the NJDC website and circulated via e-mail repeated allegations that Adelson condoned prostitution in his Chinese casinos. Dershowitz in the confirmed in the Breitbart News interview that Harris knew the allegations against Adelson were untrue when he wrote his article and email:

“I personally told Harris that the man who made the charges wrote in a contemporaneous e-mail that he didn’t believe them himself. Then the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also dropped the allegations against Adelson. In the face of these two pieces of hard evidence that these charges were a lie, Harris went ahead and knowingly published the lie. He knows it’s a lie.”

Dershowitz’s criticisms included NJDC Chairman Marc Stanley’s challenge to debate Sheldon Adelson, about which Dershowitz said: “It’s absurd. You don’t debate liars.”

Adelson Suing the National Jewish Democratic Council for Defamation

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s lawyers sent a warning letter to the NJDC and to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last week, after both groups had called on Republicans not to take money from Adelson following an allegation by a fired employee that the billionaire had approved of prostitution at his facilities in Macau, China.

The allegation first appeared in an Associated Press account of the lawsuit filed by Adelson’s former employee, Steven Jacobs, who had managed Adelson’s Macua business until being fired in 2010.

The DCCC apologized last week, but NJDC has refused to do so, and Adelson filed the lawsuit this week.

NJDC revealed the lawsuit in the following statement on its website:

“We will not be bullied into submission, and we will not be silenced by power. This is not Putin’s Russia, and in America, political speech regarding one of the most well-known public figures in our country is a fundamental right. One would think the person making greatest use of the Citizens United ruling would understand this. To be sure, referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures—as we did—is wholly appropriate. Indeed, it is both an American and a Jewish obligation to ask hard questions of powerful individuals like Mr. Adelson, just as it is incumbent upon us to praise his wonderful philanthropic endeavors.

“We know that we were well within our rights, and we will defend ourselves against this SLAPP suit as far and as long as necessary. We simply will not be bullied, and we will not be silenced.”

“Referencing mainstream press accounts examining the conduct of a public figure and his business ventures – as we did – is wholly appropriate,” it said in a statement. “Indeed, it is both an American and a Jewish obligation to ask hard questions of powerful individuals like Mr. Adelson, just as it is incumbent upon us to praise his wonderful philanthropic endeavors.”

NJDC officials referred to Adelson’s suit as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or SLAPP, a term used for legal maneuvers aimed not at obtaining justice but silence.

Adelson’s publicist, Ron Reese, had no immediate comment.

Back in July, NJDC Chair Marc R. Stanley and President and CEO David A. Harris issued the following statement, regarding their “Sheldon Adelson Petition”:

“Regarding our recent campaign surrounding Sheldon Adelson, we don’t believe we engaged in character assassination; we stand by everything we said, which was sourced from current, credible news accounts. Accusations against Mr. Adelson were made not by us, but by others, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ). Nonetheless, we regret the concern that this campaign has caused. And in the interest of shalom bayit (peace in our home / community), we are going to take down our petition today. Moving forward, we’ll continue to work hard to fight against the unique threat posed by the outsized influence of certain individual megadonors, which rightly concerns most Americans and most American Jews.”

Apparently, backtracking did not yield the desired “shalom bayit.”

Since the May, 2004 opening of the Sands Macao, Adelson’s personal wealth has grown from just under $2 billion to an estimated $24.9 billion as of March, 2012. However, Adelson’s company is reportedly under federal investigation over alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act relating to payments made to a Macao lawyer.

JTA content was used in this report.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/adelson-suing-the-national-jewish-democratic-council-for-defamation/2012/08/08/

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