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Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) - La bande de Gaza a reçu mardi livraison de combustible payé par le Qatar pour la seule centrale électrique du territoire palestinien contrôlé par le Hamas et en situation très précaire, ont indiqué des...
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ALMOG, Palestinian Territories – An Israeli farmer has cashed in by making exotic honey from a rare tree that produces frankincense — the resin once worth its weight in gold and venerated in the Bible. But the farm’s location in a far-flung West Bank settlement has left a bitter taste in at least one investor’s […]

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          Trump’s Patron-in-Chief: Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson      Cache   Translate Page      

LATE ON A THURSDAY evening in February 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for his first visit with President Donald Trump. A few hours earlier, the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s Boeing 737, which is so large it can seat 149 people, touched down at Reagan National Airport after a flight from Las Vegas.

Adelson dined that night at the White House with Trump, Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were among Trump’s biggest benefactors, writing checks for $20 million in the campaign and pitching in an additional $5 million for the inaugural festivities.

Adelson was in town to see the Japanese prime minister about a much greater sum of money. Japan, after years of acrimonious public debate, has legalized casinos. For more than a decade, Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands, have sought to build a multibillion-dollar casino resort there. He has called expanding to the country, one of the world’s last major untapped markets, the “holy grail.” Nearly every major casino company in the world is competing to secure one of a limited number of licenses to enter a market worth up to $25 billion per year. “This opportunity won’t come along again, potentially ever,” said Kahlil Philander, an academic who studies the industry.

The morning after his White House dinner, Adelson attended a breakfast in Washington with Abe and a small group of American CEOs, including two others from the casino industry. Adelson and the other executives raised the casino issue with Abe, according to an attendee.

Adelson had a potent ally in his quest: the new president of the United States. Following the business breakfast, Abe had a meeting with Trump before boarding Air Force One for a weekend at Mar-a-Lago. The two heads of state dined with Patriots owner Bob Kraft and golfed at Trump National Jupiter Golf Club with the South African golfer Ernie Els. During a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that weekend, Trump raised Adelson’s casino bid to Abe, according to two people briefed on the meeting. The Japanese side was surprised.

“It was totally brought up out of the blue,” according to one of the people briefed on the exchange. “They were a little incredulous that he would be so brazen.” After Trump told Abe he should strongly consider Las Vegas Sands for a license, “Abe didn’t really respond, and said thank you for the information,” this person said.

Trump also mentioned at least one other casino operator. Accounts differ on whether it was MGM or Wynn Resorts, then run by Trump donor and then-Republican National Committee finance chairman Steve Wynn. The Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported the president also mentioned MGM and Abe instructed an aide who was present to jot down the names of both companies. Questioned about the meeting, Abe said in remarks before the Japanese legislature in July that Trump had not passed on requests from casino companies but did not deny that the topic had come up.

The president raising a top donor’s personal business interests directly with a foreign head of state would violate longstanding norms. “That should be nowhere near the agenda of senior officials,” said Brian Harding, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “U.S.-Japan relations is about the security of the Asia-Pacific, China and economic issues.”

Adelson has told his shareholders to expect good news. On a recent earnings call, Adelson cited unnamed insiders as saying Sands’ efforts to win a place in the Japanese market will pay off. “The estimates by people who know, say they know, whom we believe they know, say that we’re in the No. 1 pole position,” he said.

After decades as a major Republican donor, Adelson is known as an ideological figure, motivated by his desire to influence U.S. policy to help Israel. “I’m a one-issue person. That issue is Israel,” he said last year. On that issue — Israel — Trump has delivered. The administration has slashed funding for aid to Palestinian refugees and scrapped the Iran nuclear deal. Attending the recent opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Adelson seemed to almost weep with joy, according to an attendee.

But his reputation as an Israel advocate has obscured a through-line in his career: He has used his political access to push his financial self-interest. Not only has Trump touted Sands’ interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Adelson’s influence reverberates through this administration. Cabinet-level officials jump when he calls. One who displeased him was replaced. He has helped a friend’s company get a research deal with the Environmental Protection Agency. And Adelson has already received a windfall from Trump’s new tax law, which particularly favored companies like Las Vegas Sands. The company estimated the benefit of the law at $1.2 billion.

Adelson’s influence is not absolute: His company’s casinos in Macau are vulnerable in Trump’s trade war with China, which controls the former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong. If the Chinese government chose to retaliate by targeting Macau, where Sands has several large properties, it could hurt Adelson’s bottom line. So far, there’s no evidence that has happened.

The White House declined to comment on Adelson. The Japanese Embassy in Washington declined to comment. Sands spokesman Ron Reese declined to answer detailed questions but said in a statement: “The gaming industry has long sought the opportunity to enter the Japan market. Gaming companies have spent significant resources there on that effort and Las Vegas Sands is no exception.”

Reese added: “If our company has any advantage it would be because of our significant Asian operating experience and our unique convention-based business model. Any suggestion we are favored for some other reason is not based on the reality of the process in Japan or the integrity of the officials involved in it.”

With a fortune estimated at $35 billion, Adelson is the 21st-richest person in the world, according to Forbes. In August, when he celebrated his 85th birthday in Las Vegas, the party stretched over four days. Adelson covered guests’ expenses. A 92-year-old Tony Bennett and the Israeli winner of Eurovision performed for the festivities. He is slowing down physically; stricken by neuropathy, he uses a motorized scooter to get around and often stands up with the help of a bodyguard. He fell and broke three ribs while on a ferry from Macau to Hong Kong last November.

Yet Adelson has spent the Trump era hustling to expand his gambling empire. With Trump occupying the White House, Adelson has found the greatest political ally he’s ever had.

“I would put Adelson at the very top of the list of both access and influence in the Trump administration,” said Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen. “I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I’ve been studying money in politics for 40 years.”

ADELSON GREW UP POOR in Boston, the son of a cabdriver with a sixth-grade education. According to his wife, Adelson was beaten up as a kid for being Jewish. A serial entrepreneur who has started or acquired more than 50 different businesses, he had already made and lost his first fortune by the late 1960s, when he was in his mid-30s.

It took him until the mid-1990s to become extraordinarily rich. In 1995, he sold the pioneering computer trade show Comdex to the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank for $800 million. He entered the gambling business in earnest when his Venetian casino resort opened in 1999 in Las Vegas. With its gondola rides on faux canals, it was inspired by his honeymoon to Venice with Miriam, who is 12 years younger than Adelson.

It’s been said that Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person. Adelson could be thought of as Trump’s idea of a rich person. A family friend recalls Sheldon and Miriam’s two sons, who are now in college, getting picked up from school in stretch Hummer limousines and his home being so large it was stocked with Segway transporters to get around. A Las Vegas TV station found a few years ago that, amid a drought, Adelson’s palatial home a short drive from the Vegas Strip had used nearly 8 million gallons of water in a year, enough for 55 average homes. Adelson will rattle off his precise wealth based on the fluctuation of Las Vegas Sands’ share price, said his friend the New York investor Michael Steinhardt. “He’s very sensitive to his net worth,” Steinhardt said.

Trump entered the casino business several years before Adelson. In the early 1990s, both eyed Eilat in southern Israel as a potential casino site. Neither built there. Adelson “didn’t have a whole lot of respect for Trump when Trump was operating casinos. He was dismissive of Trump,” recalled one former Las Vegas Sands official. In an interview in the late ’90s, Adelson lumped Trump with Wynn: “Both of these gentlemen have very big egos,” Adelson said. “Well, the world doesn’t really care about their egos.”

Today, in his rare public appearances, Adelson has a grandfatherly affect. He likes to refer to himself as “Self” (“I said to myself, ‘Self …’”). He makes Borscht Belt jokes about his short stature: “A friend of mine says, ‘You’re the tallest guy in the world.’ I said, ‘How do you figure that?’ He says, ‘When you stand on your wallet.’”

By the early 2000s, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands had surpassed Trump’s casino operations. While Trump was getting bogged down in Atlantic City, Adelson’s properties thrived. When Macau opened up a local gambling monopoly, Adelson bested a crowded field that included Trump to win a license. Today, Macau accounts for more than half of Las Vegas Sands’ roughly $13 billion in annual revenue.

Trump’s casinos went bankrupt, and now he is out of the industry entirely. By the mid-2000s, Trump was playing the role of business tycoon on his reality show, “The Apprentice.” Meanwhile, Adelson aggressively expanded his empire in Macau and later in Singapore. His company’s Moshe Safdie-designed Marina Bay Sands property there, with its rooftop infinity pool, featured prominently in the recent hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians.”

While their business trajectories diverged, Adelson and Trump have long shared a willingness to sue critics, enemies and business associates. Multiple people said they were too afraid of lawsuits to speak on the record for this story. In 1989, after the Nevada Gaming Control Board conducted a background investigation of Adelson, it found he had already been personally involved in around 100 civil lawsuits, according to the book “License to Steal,” a history of the agency. That included matters as small as a $600 contractual dispute with a Boston hospital.

The lawsuits have continued even as Adelson became so rich the amounts of money at stake hardly mattered. In one case, Adelson was unhappy with the quality of construction on one of his beachfront Malibu, California, properties and pursued a legal dispute with the contractor for more than seven years, going through a lengthy series of appeals and cases in different courts. Adelson sued a Wall Street Journal reporter for libel over a single phrase — a description of him as “foul-mouthed” — and fought the case for four years before it was settled, with the story unchanged. In a particularly bitter case in Massachusetts Superior Court in the 1990s, his sons from his first marriage accused him of cheating them out of money. Adelson prevailed.

Adelson rarely speaks to the media any more, with occasional exceptions for friendly business journalists or on stage at conferences, usually interviewed by people to whom he has given a great deal of money. “He keeps a very tight inner circle,” said a casino industry executive who has known Adelson for decades. Adelson declined to comment for this story.

ADELSON ONCE TOLD a reporter of entering the casino business late in life, “I loved being an outsider.” For nearly a decade he played that role in presidential politics, bankrolling the opposition to the Obama administration. As with some of his early entrepreneurial forays, he dumped money for little return, his political picks going bust. In 2008, he backed Rudy Giuliani. As America’s Mayor faded, he came on board late with the John McCain campaign. In 2012, he almost single-handedly funded Newt Gingrich’s candidacy. Gingrich spent a few weeks atop the polls before his candidacy collapsed. Adelson became a late adopter of Mitt Romney.

In 2016, the Adelsons didn’t officially endorse a candidate for months. Trump used Adelson as a foil, an example of the well-heeled donors who wielded outsized influence in Washington. “Sheldon or whoever — you could say Koch. I could name them all. They’re all friends of mine, every one of them. I know all of them. They have pretty much total control over the candidate,” Trump said on Fox News in October 2015. “Nobody controls me but the American public.” In a pointed tweet that month, Trump said: “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to [Marco] Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”

Despite Trump’s barbs, Adelson had grown curious about the candidate and called his friend Steinhardt, who founded the Birthright program that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel. Adelson is now the program’s largest funder.

“I called Kushner and I said Sheldon would like to meet your father-in-law,” Steinhardt recalled. “Kushner was excited.” Trump got on a plane to Las Vegas. “Sheldon has strong views when it comes to the Jewish people; Trump recognized that, and a marriage was formed.”

Trump and his son-in-law Kushner courted Adelson privately, meeting several times in New York and Las Vegas. “Having Orthodox Jews like Jared and Ivanka next to him and so many common people in interest gave a level of comfort to Sheldon,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York public relations executive who knows both men. “Someone who lets their kid marry an Orthodox Jew and then become Orthodox is probably going to stand pretty damn close to Israel.”

Miriam Adelson, a physician born and raised in what became Israel, is said to be an equal partner in Sheldon Adelson’s political decisions. He has said the interests of the Jewish state are at the center of his worldview, and his views align with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-of-center approach to Iran and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Adelson suggested in 2014 that Israel doesn’t need to be a democracy. “I think God didn’t say anything about democracy,” Adelson said. “He didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state.” On a trip to the country several years ago, on the eve of his young son’s bar mitzvah, Adelson said, “Hopefully he’ll come back; his hobby is shooting. He’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

On domestic issues, Adelson is more Chamber of Commerce Republican than movement conservative or Trumpian populist. He is pro-choice and has called for work permits and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a position sharply at odds with Trump’s. While the Koch brothers, his fellow Republican megadonors, have evinced concern over trade policy and distaste for Trump, Adelson has proved flexible, putting aside any qualms about Trump’s business acumen or ideological misgivings. In May 2016, he declared in a Washington Post op-ed that he was endorsing Trump. He wrote that Trump represented “a CEO success story that exemplifies the American spirit of determination, commitment to cause and business stewardship.”

The Adelsons came through with $20 million in donations to the pro-Trump super PAC, part of at least $83 million in donations to Republicans. By the time of the October 2016 release of the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about sexual assault, Adelson was among his staunchest supporters. “Sheldon Adelson had Donald Trump’s back,” said Steve Bannon in a speech last year, speaking of the time after the scandal broke. “He was there.”

In December 2016, Adelson donated $5 million to the Trump inaugural festivities. The Adelsons had better seats at Trump’s inauguration than many Cabinet secretaries. The whole family, including their two college-age sons, came to Washington for the celebration. One of his sons posted a picture on Instagram of the event with the hashtag #HuckFillary.

The investment paid off in access and in financial returns. Adelson has met with Trump or visited the White House at least six times since Trump’s election victory. The two speak regularly. Adelson has also had access to others in the White House. He met privately with Vice President Mike Pence before Pence gave a speech at Adelson’s Venetian resort in Las Vegas last year. “He just calls the president all the time. Donald Trump takes Sheldon Adelson’s calls,” said Alan Dershowitz, who has done legal work for Adelson and advised Trump.

Adelson’s tens of millions in donations to Trump have already been paid back many times over by the new tax law. While all corporations benefited from the lower tax rate in the new law, many incurred an extra bill in the transition because profits overseas were hit with a one-time tax. But not Sands. Adelson’s company hired lobbyists to press Trump’s Treasury Department and Congress on provisions that would help companies like Sands that paid high taxes abroad, according to public filings and tax experts. The lobbying effort appears to have worked. After Trump signed the tax overhaul into law in December, Las Vegas Sands recorded a benefit from the new law the company estimated at $1.2 billion.

The Adelson family owns 55 percent of Las Vegas Sands, which is publicly traded, according to filings. The Treasury Department didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Now as Trump and the Republican Party face a reckoning in the midterm elections in November, they have once again turned to Adelson. He has given at least $55 million so far.

IN 2014, ADELSON TOLD an interviewer he was not interested in building a dynasty. “I want my legacy to be that I helped out humankind,” he said, underscoring his family’s considerable donations to medical research. But he gives no indication of sticking to a quiet life of philanthropy. In the last four years, he has used the Sands’ fleet of private jets, assiduously meeting with world leaders and seeking to build new casinos in Japan, Korea and Brazil.

He is closest in Japan. Japan has been considering lifting its ban on casinos for years, in spite of majority opposition in polls from a public that is wary of the social problems that might result. A huge de facto gambling industry of the pinball-like game pachinko has long existed in the country, historically associated with organized crime and seedy parlors filled with cigarette-smoking men. Opposition to allowing casinos is so heated that a brawl broke out in the Japanese legislature this summer. But lawmakers have moved forward on legalizing casinos and crafted regulations that hew to Adelson’s wishes.

“Japan is considered the next big market. Sheldon looks at it that way,” said a former Sands official. Adelson envisions building a $10 billion “integrated resort,” which in industry parlance refers to a large complex featuring a casino with hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants and shopping malls.

The new Japanese law allows for just three licenses to build casinos in cities around the country, effectively granting valuable local monopolies. At least 13 companies, including giants like MGM and Genting, are vying for a license. Even though Sands is already a strong contender because of its size and its successful resort in Singapore, some observers in Japan believe Adelson’s relationship with Trump has helped move Las Vegas Sands closer to the multibillion-dollar prize.

Just a week after the U.S. election, Prime Minister Abe arrived at Trump Tower, becoming the first foreign leader to meet with the president-elect. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were also there. Abe presented Trump with a gilded $3,800 golf driver. Few know the details of what the Trumps and Abe discussed at the meeting. In a break with protocol, Trump’s transition team sidelined the State Department, whose Japan experts were never briefed on what was said. “There was a great deal of frustration,” said one State Department official. “There was zero communication from anyone on Trump’s team.”

In another sign of Adelson’s direct access to the incoming president and ties with Japan, he secured a coveted Trump Tower meeting a few weeks later for an old friend, the Japanese billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son. Son’s company, SoftBank, had bought Adelson’s computer trade show business in the 1990s. A few years ago, Adelson named Son as a potential partner in his casino resort plans in Japan. Son’s SoftBank, for its part, owns Sprint, which has long wanted to merge with T-Mobile but needs a green light from the Trump administration. A beaming Son emerged from the meeting in the lobby of Trump Tower with the president-elect and promised $50 billion in investments in the U.S.

When Trump won the election in November 2016, the casino bill had been stalled in the Japanese Diet. One month after the Trump-Abe meeting, in an unexpected move in mid-December, Abe’s ruling coalition pushed through landmark legislation authorizing casinos, with specific regulations to be ironed out later. There was minimal debate on the controversial bill, and it passed at the very end of an extraordinary session of the legislature. “That was a surprise to a lot of stakeholders,” said one former Sands executive who still works in the industry. Some observers suspect the timing was not a coincidence. “After Trump won the election in 2016, the Abe government’s efforts to pass the casino bill shifted into high gear,” said Yoichi Torihata, a professor at Shizuoka University and opponent of the casino law.

On a Las Vegas Sands earnings call a few days after Trump’s inauguration, Adelson touted that Abe had visited the company’s casino resort complex in Singapore. “He was very impressed with it,” Adelson said. Days later, Adelson attended the February breakfast with Abe in Washington, after which the prime minister went on to Mar-a-Lago, where the president raised Las Vegas Sands. A week after that, Adelson flew to Japan and met with the secretary general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo.

The casino business is one of the most regulated industries in the world, and Adelson has always sought political allies. To enter the business in 1989, he hired the former governor of Nevada to represent him before the state’s gaming commission. In 2001, according to court testimony reported in the New Yorker, Adelson intervened with then-House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, to whom he was a major donor, at the behest of a Chinese official over a proposed House resolution that was critical of the country’s human rights record. At the time, Las Vegas Sands was seeking entry into the Macau market. The resolution died, which Adelson attributed to factors other than his intervention, according to the magazine.

In 2015, he purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, which then published a lengthy investigative series on one of Adelson’s longtime rivals, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which runs a convention center that competes with Adelson’s. (The paper said Adelson had no influence over its coverage.)

In Japan, Las Vegas Sands’ efforts have accelerated in the last year. Adelson returned to the country in September 2017, visiting top officials in Osaka, a possible casino site. In a show of star power in October, Sands flew in David Beckham and the Eagles’ Joe Walsh for a press conference at the Palace Hotel Tokyo. Beckham waxed enthusiastic about his love of sea urchin and declared, “Las Vegas Sands is creating fabulous resorts all around the world, and their scale and vision are impressive.”

Adelson appears emboldened. When he was in Osaka last fall, he publicly criticized a proposal under consideration to cap the total amount of floor space devoted to casinos in the resorts that have been legalized. In July, the Japanese Diet passed a bill with more details on what casinos will look like and laying out the bidding process. The absolute limit on casino floor area had been dropped from the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made an unusual personnel move that could help advance pro-gambling interests. The new U.S. ambassador, an early Trump campaign supporter and Tennessee businessman named William Hagerty, hired as his senior adviser an American executive working on casino issues for the Japanese company SEGA Sammy. Joseph Schmelzeis left his role as senior adviser on global government and industry affairs for the company in February to join the U.S. Embassy. (He has not worked for Sands.)

A State Department spokesperson said that embassy officials had communicated with Sands as part of “routine” meetings and advice provided to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The spokesperson said that “Schmelzeis is not participating in any matter related to integrated resorts or Las Vegas Sands.”

Japanese opposition politicians have seized on the Adelson-Trump-Abe nexus. One, Tetsuya Shiokawa, said this year that he believes Trump has been the unseen force behind why Abe’s party has “tailor-made the [casino] bill to suit foreign investors like Adelson.” In the next stage of the process, casino companies will complete their bids with Japanese localities.

ADELSON’S INFLUENCE has spread across the Trump administration. In August 2017, the Zionist Organization of America, to which the Adelsons are major donors, launched a campaign against National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. ZOA chief Mort Klein charged McMaster “clearly has animus toward Israel.”

Adelson said he was convinced to support the attack on McMaster after Adelson spoke with Safra Catz, the Israeli-born CEO of Oracle, who “enlightened me quite a bit” about McMaster, according to an email Klein later released to the media. Adelson pressed Trump to appoint the hawkish John Bolton to a high position, The New York Times reported. In March, Trump fired McMaster and replaced him with Bolton. The president and other cabinet officials also clashed with McMaster on policy and style issues.

For Scott Pruitt, the former EPA administrator known as an ally of industry, courting Adelson meant developing a keen interest in an unlikely topic: technology that generates clean water from air. An obscure Israeli startup called Watergen makes machines that resemble air conditioners and, with enough electricity, can pull potable water from the air.

Adelson doesn’t have a stake in the company, but he is old friends with the Israeli-Georgian billionaire who owns the firm, Mikhael Mirilashvili, according to the head of Watergen’s U.S. operation, Yehuda Kaploun. Adelson first encountered the technology on a trip to Israel, Kaploun said. Dershowitz is also on the company’s board.

Just weeks after being confirmed, Pruitt met with Watergen executives at Adelson’s request. Pruitt promptly mobilized dozens of EPA officials to ink a research deal under which the agency would study Watergen’s technology. EPA officials immediately began voicing concerns about the request, according to hundreds of previously unreported emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. They argued that the then-EPA chief was violating regular procedures.

Pruitt, according to one email, asked that staffers explore “on an expedited time frame” whether a deal could be done “without the typical contracting requirements.” Other emails described the matter as “very time sensitive” and having “high Administrator interest.”

A veteran scientist at the agency warned that the “technology has been around for decades,” adding that the agency should not be “focusing on a single vendor, in this case Watergen.” Officials said that Watergen’s technology was not unique, noting there were as many as 70 different suppliers on the market with products using the same concept. Notes from a meeting said the agency “does not currently have the expertise or staff to evaluate these technologies.” Agency lawyers “seemed scared” about the arrangement, according to an internal text exchange. The EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Watergen got its research deal. It’s not known how much money the agency has spent on the project. The technology was shipped to a lab in Cincinnati, and Watergen said the government will produce a report on its study. Pruitt planned to unveil the deal on a trip to Israel, which was also planned with the assistance of Adelson, The Washington Post reported. But amid multiple scandals, the trip never happened.

Other parts of the Trump administration have also been friendly to Watergen. Over the summer, Mirilashvili attended the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s Fourth of July party, where he was photographed grinning and sipping water next to one of the company’s machines on display. Kaploun said U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s staff assisted the company to help highlight its technology.

A State Department spokesperson said Watergen was one of many private sponsors of the embassy party and was “subject to rigorous vetting.” The embassy is now considering leasing or buying a Watergen unit as part of a “routine procurement action,” the spokesperson said.

A Mirilashvili spokesman said in a statement that Adelson and Mirilashvili “have no business ties with each other.” The spokesman added that Adelson had been briefed on the company’s technology by Watergen engineers and “Adelson has also expressed an interest in the ability of this Israeli technology to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who are affected by water pollution.”

EVEN AS THE CASINO business looks promising in Japan, China has been a potential trouble spot for Adelson. Few businesses are as vulnerable to geopolitical winds as Adelson’s. The majority of Sands’ value derives from its properties in Macau. It is the world’s gambling capital, and China’s central government controls it.

“Sheldon Adelson highly values direct engagement in Beijing,” a 2009 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks says, “especially given the impact of Beijing’s visa policies on the company’s growing mass market operations in Macau.”

At times, Sands’ aggressive efforts in China crossed legal lines. On Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump took office, the Justice Department announced Sands was paying a nearly $7 million fine to settle a longstanding investigation into whether it violated a U.S. anti-bribery statute in China. The case revealed that Sands paid roughly $60 million to a consultant who “advertised his political connections with [People’s Republic of China] government officials” and that some of the payments “had no discernible legitimate business purpose.” Part of the work involved an effort by Sands to acquire a professional basketball team in the country to promote its casinos. The DOJ said Sands fully cooperated in the investigation and fixed its compliance problems.

A year and a half into the Trump administration, Adelson has a bigger problem than the Justice Department investigation: Trump’s trade war against Beijing has put Sands’ business in Macau at risk. Sands’ right to operate expires in a few years. Beijing could throttle the flow of money and people from the mainland to Macau. Sands and the other foreign operators in Macau “now sit on a geopolitical fault line. Their Macau concessions can therefore be on the line,” said a report from the Hong Kong business consultancy Steve Vickers & Associates.

A former Sands board member, George Koo, wrote a column in the Asia Times newspaper in April warning that Beijing could undercut the Macau market by legalizing casinos in the southern island province of Hainan. “A major blow in the trade war would be for China to allow Hainan to become a gambling destination and divert visitors who would otherwise be visiting Macau,” Koo wrote. “As one of Trump’s principal supporters, it’s undoubtedly a good time for Mr. Adelson to have a private conversation with the president.”

It’s not clear if Adelson has had that conversation. According to The Associated Press, Adelson was present for a discussion of China policy at the dinner he attended with Trump at the White House in February 2017. In September, Trump escalated his trade war with China. He raised tariffs on $200 billion Chinese imports. China retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products.

Adelson has said privately that if he can be helpful in any way he would volunteer himself to do whatever is asked for either side of the equation — the U.S. or China, according to a person who has spoken to him.

TOROSSIAN, the public relations executive, calls Adelson “this generation’s Rothschild” for his support of Israel. In early May, the Adelsons gave $30 million to the super PAC that is seeking to keep Republican control of the House for the remainder of Trump’s term. A few days later, Trump announced he was killing the Iran nuclear deal, a target of Adelson’s and the Netanyahu government’s for years. The following day, Adelson met with the president at the White House.

Five days later, Adelson was in Israel for another landmark, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem marked a major shift in U.S. foreign policy, long eschewed by presidents of both parties. Besides dealing a major blow to Palestinian claims on part of the city, which are recognized by most of the world, it was the culmination of a more than 20-year project of the Adelsons. Sheldon and Miriam personally lobbied for the move on Capitol Hill as far back as 1995.

In an audience dotted with yarmulkes and MAGA-red hats, the Adelsons were in the front now, next to Netanyahu and his wife, the Kushners and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. A beaming Miriam, wearing a dress featuring an illustration of the Jerusalem skyline, filmed the event with her phone. She wrote a first-person account of the ceremony that was co-published on the front page of the two newspapers the Adelsons own, Israel Hayom and the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “The embassy opening is a crowning moment for U.S. foreign policy and for our president, Donald Trump. Just over a year into his first term, he has re-enshrined the United States as the standard-bearer of moral clarity and courage in a world that too often feels adrift.”

Adelson paid for the official delegation of Guatemala, the only other country to move its embassy, to travel to Israel. “Sheldon told me that any country that wants to move its embassy to Jerusalem, he’ll fly them in — the president and everyone — for the opening,” said Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce CEO Duvi Honig, who was in attendance.

Klein, the Zionist Organization of America president, was also there. The Adelsons, he said, “were glowing with a serene happiness like I’ve never seen them. Sheldon said to me, ‘President Trump promised he would do this and he did it.’ And he almost became emotional. ‘And look, Mort, he did it.’”

Do you have information about Sheldon Adelson and the Trump administration? Reach Justin at justin@propublica.org or on Signal at (774) 826-6240.


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A Dutch company has agreed to compensate a Palestinian who was seriously injured by the attack dogs it supplied to the Israeli military. The settlement is the outcome of a civil lawsuit filed by Hamzeh Abu Hashem against Four Winds K9 and its directors in late 2017. The company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to Abu Hashem towards his recovery although it continues to deny legal liability because the Israeli army trained the dogs. Four Winds K9 "regrets the incident" and the damage done and considers the payment a "gesture of good will," according to Dutch newspaper NRC. This is "the first time a Dutch firm has paid for violence in the occupied Palestinian territories," Abu Hashem's lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld told the newspaper.
          Trump’s Patron-in-Chief: Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson      Cache   Translate Page      

LATE ON A THURSDAY evening in February 2017, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plane landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for his first visit with President Donald Trump. A few hours earlier, the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson’s Boeing 737, which is so large it can seat 149 people, touched down at Reagan National Airport after a flight from Las Vegas.

Adelson dined that night at the White House with Trump, Jared Kushner and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, were among Trump’s biggest benefactors, writing checks for $20 million in the campaign and pitching in an additional $5 million for the inaugural festivities.

Adelson was in town to see the Japanese prime minister about a much greater sum of money. Japan, after years of acrimonious public debate, has legalized casinos. For more than a decade, Adelson and his company, Las Vegas Sands, have sought to build a multibillion-dollar casino resort there. He has called expanding to the country, one of the world’s last major untapped markets, the “holy grail.” Nearly every major casino company in the world is competing to secure one of a limited number of licenses to enter a market worth up to $25 billion per year. “This opportunity won’t come along again, potentially ever,” said Kahlil Philander, an academic who studies the industry.

The morning after his White House dinner, Adelson attended a breakfast in Washington with Abe and a small group of American CEOs, including two others from the casino industry. Adelson and the other executives raised the casino issue with Abe, according to an attendee.

Adelson had a potent ally in his quest: the new president of the United States. Following the business breakfast, Abe had a meeting with Trump before boarding Air Force One for a weekend at Mar-a-Lago. The two heads of state dined with Patriots owner Bob Kraft and golfed at Trump National Jupiter Golf Club with the South African golfer Ernie Els. During a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that weekend, Trump raised Adelson’s casino bid to Abe, according to two people briefed on the meeting. The Japanese side was surprised.

“It was totally brought up out of the blue,” according to one of the people briefed on the exchange. “They were a little incredulous that he would be so brazen.” After Trump told Abe he should strongly consider Las Vegas Sands for a license, “Abe didn’t really respond, and said thank you for the information,” this person said.

Trump also mentioned at least one other casino operator. Accounts differ on whether it was MGM or Wynn Resorts, then run by Trump donor and then-Republican National Committee finance chairman Steve Wynn. The Japanese newspaper Nikkei reported the president also mentioned MGM and Abe instructed an aide who was present to jot down the names of both companies. Questioned about the meeting, Abe said in remarks before the Japanese legislature in July that Trump had not passed on requests from casino companies but did not deny that the topic had come up.

The president raising a top donor’s personal business interests directly with a foreign head of state would violate longstanding norms. “That should be nowhere near the agenda of senior officials,” said Brian Harding, a Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “U.S.-Japan relations is about the security of the Asia-Pacific, China and economic issues.”

Adelson has told his shareholders to expect good news. On a recent earnings call, Adelson cited unnamed insiders as saying Sands’ efforts to win a place in the Japanese market will pay off. “The estimates by people who know, say they know, whom we believe they know, say that we’re in the No. 1 pole position,” he said.

After decades as a major Republican donor, Adelson is known as an ideological figure, motivated by his desire to influence U.S. policy to help Israel. “I’m a one-issue person. That issue is Israel,” he said last year. On that issue — Israel — Trump has delivered. The administration has slashed funding for aid to Palestinian refugees and scrapped the Iran nuclear deal. Attending the recent opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, Adelson seemed to almost weep with joy, according to an attendee.

But his reputation as an Israel advocate has obscured a through-line in his career: He has used his political access to push his financial self-interest. Not only has Trump touted Sands’ interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Adelson’s influence reverberates through this administration. Cabinet-level officials jump when he calls. One who displeased him was replaced. He has helped a friend’s company get a research deal with the Environmental Protection Agency. And Adelson has already received a windfall from Trump’s new tax law, which particularly favored companies like Las Vegas Sands. The company estimated the benefit of the law at $1.2 billion.

Adelson’s influence is not absolute: His company’s casinos in Macau are vulnerable in Trump’s trade war with China, which controls the former Portuguese colony near Hong Kong. If the Chinese government chose to retaliate by targeting Macau, where Sands has several large properties, it could hurt Adelson’s bottom line. So far, there’s no evidence that has happened.

The White House declined to comment on Adelson. The Japanese Embassy in Washington declined to comment. Sands spokesman Ron Reese declined to answer detailed questions but said in a statement: “The gaming industry has long sought the opportunity to enter the Japan market. Gaming companies have spent significant resources there on that effort and Las Vegas Sands is no exception.”

Reese added: “If our company has any advantage it would be because of our significant Asian operating experience and our unique convention-based business model. Any suggestion we are favored for some other reason is not based on the reality of the process in Japan or the integrity of the officials involved in it.”

With a fortune estimated at $35 billion, Adelson is the 21st-richest person in the world, according to Forbes. In August, when he celebrated his 85th birthday in Las Vegas, the party stretched over four days. Adelson covered guests’ expenses. A 92-year-old Tony Bennett and the Israeli winner of Eurovision performed for the festivities. He is slowing down physically; stricken by neuropathy, he uses a motorized scooter to get around and often stands up with the help of a bodyguard. He fell and broke three ribs while on a ferry from Macau to Hong Kong last November.

Yet Adelson has spent the Trump era hustling to expand his gambling empire. With Trump occupying the White House, Adelson has found the greatest political ally he’s ever had.

“I would put Adelson at the very top of the list of both access and influence in the Trump administration,” said Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen. “I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I’ve been studying money in politics for 40 years.”

ADELSON GREW UP POOR in Boston, the son of a cabdriver with a sixth-grade education. According to his wife, Adelson was beaten up as a kid for being Jewish. A serial entrepreneur who has started or acquired more than 50 different businesses, he had already made and lost his first fortune by the late 1960s, when he was in his mid-30s.

It took him until the mid-1990s to become extraordinarily rich. In 1995, he sold the pioneering computer trade show Comdex to the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank for $800 million. He entered the gambling business in earnest when his Venetian casino resort opened in 1999 in Las Vegas. With its gondola rides on faux canals, it was inspired by his honeymoon to Venice with Miriam, who is 12 years younger than Adelson.

It’s been said that Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich person. Adelson could be thought of as Trump’s idea of a rich person. A family friend recalls Sheldon and Miriam’s two sons, who are now in college, getting picked up from school in stretch Hummer limousines and his home being so large it was stocked with Segway transporters to get around. A Las Vegas TV station found a few years ago that, amid a drought, Adelson’s palatial home a short drive from the Vegas Strip had used nearly 8 million gallons of water in a year, enough for 55 average homes. Adelson will rattle off his precise wealth based on the fluctuation of Las Vegas Sands’ share price, said his friend the New York investor Michael Steinhardt. “He’s very sensitive to his net worth,” Steinhardt said.

Trump entered the casino business several years before Adelson. In the early 1990s, both eyed Eilat in southern Israel as a potential casino site. Neither built there. Adelson “didn’t have a whole lot of respect for Trump when Trump was operating casinos. He was dismissive of Trump,” recalled one former Las Vegas Sands official. In an interview in the late ’90s, Adelson lumped Trump with Wynn: “Both of these gentlemen have very big egos,” Adelson said. “Well, the world doesn’t really care about their egos.”

Today, in his rare public appearances, Adelson has a grandfatherly affect. He likes to refer to himself as “Self” (“I said to myself, ‘Self …’”). He makes Borscht Belt jokes about his short stature: “A friend of mine says, ‘You’re the tallest guy in the world.’ I said, ‘How do you figure that?’ He says, ‘When you stand on your wallet.’”

By the early 2000s, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands had surpassed Trump’s casino operations. While Trump was getting bogged down in Atlantic City, Adelson’s properties thrived. When Macau opened up a local gambling monopoly, Adelson bested a crowded field that included Trump to win a license. Today, Macau accounts for more than half of Las Vegas Sands’ roughly $13 billion in annual revenue.

Trump’s casinos went bankrupt, and now he is out of the industry entirely. By the mid-2000s, Trump was playing the role of business tycoon on his reality show, “The Apprentice.” Meanwhile, Adelson aggressively expanded his empire in Macau and later in Singapore. His company’s Moshe Safdie-designed Marina Bay Sands property there, with its rooftop infinity pool, featured prominently in the recent hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians.”

While their business trajectories diverged, Adelson and Trump have long shared a willingness to sue critics, enemies and business associates. Multiple people said they were too afraid of lawsuits to speak on the record for this story. In 1989, after the Nevada Gaming Control Board conducted a background investigation of Adelson, it found he had already been personally involved in around 100 civil lawsuits, according to the book “License to Steal,” a history of the agency. That included matters as small as a $600 contractual dispute with a Boston hospital.

The lawsuits have continued even as Adelson became so rich the amounts of money at stake hardly mattered. In one case, Adelson was unhappy with the quality of construction on one of his beachfront Malibu, California, properties and pursued a legal dispute with the contractor for more than seven years, going through a lengthy series of appeals and cases in different courts. Adelson sued a Wall Street Journal reporter for libel over a single phrase — a description of him as “foul-mouthed” — and fought the case for four years before it was settled, with the story unchanged. In a particularly bitter case in Massachusetts Superior Court in the 1990s, his sons from his first marriage accused him of cheating them out of money. Adelson prevailed.

Adelson rarely speaks to the media any more, with occasional exceptions for friendly business journalists or on stage at conferences, usually interviewed by people to whom he has given a great deal of money. “He keeps a very tight inner circle,” said a casino industry executive who has known Adelson for decades. Adelson declined to comment for this story.

ADELSON ONCE TOLD a reporter of entering the casino business late in life, “I loved being an outsider.” For nearly a decade he played that role in presidential politics, bankrolling the opposition to the Obama administration. As with some of his early entrepreneurial forays, he dumped money for little return, his political picks going bust. In 2008, he backed Rudy Giuliani. As America’s Mayor faded, he came on board late with the John McCain campaign. In 2012, he almost single-handedly funded Newt Gingrich’s candidacy. Gingrich spent a few weeks atop the polls before his candidacy collapsed. Adelson became a late adopter of Mitt Romney.

In 2016, the Adelsons didn’t officially endorse a candidate for months. Trump used Adelson as a foil, an example of the well-heeled donors who wielded outsized influence in Washington. “Sheldon or whoever — you could say Koch. I could name them all. They’re all friends of mine, every one of them. I know all of them. They have pretty much total control over the candidate,” Trump said on Fox News in October 2015. “Nobody controls me but the American public.” In a pointed tweet that month, Trump said: “Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to [Marco] Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!”

Despite Trump’s barbs, Adelson had grown curious about the candidate and called his friend Steinhardt, who founded the Birthright program that sends young Jews on free trips to Israel. Adelson is now the program’s largest funder.

“I called Kushner and I said Sheldon would like to meet your father-in-law,” Steinhardt recalled. “Kushner was excited.” Trump got on a plane to Las Vegas. “Sheldon has strong views when it comes to the Jewish people; Trump recognized that, and a marriage was formed.”

Trump and his son-in-law Kushner courted Adelson privately, meeting several times in New York and Las Vegas. “Having Orthodox Jews like Jared and Ivanka next to him and so many common people in interest gave a level of comfort to Sheldon,” said Ronn Torossian, a New York public relations executive who knows both men. “Someone who lets their kid marry an Orthodox Jew and then become Orthodox is probably going to stand pretty damn close to Israel.”

Miriam Adelson, a physician born and raised in what became Israel, is said to be an equal partner in Sheldon Adelson’s political decisions. He has said the interests of the Jewish state are at the center of his worldview, and his views align with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-of-center approach to Iran and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

Adelson suggested in 2014 that Israel doesn’t need to be a democracy. “I think God didn’t say anything about democracy,” Adelson said. “He didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state.” On a trip to the country several years ago, on the eve of his young son’s bar mitzvah, Adelson said, “Hopefully he’ll come back; his hobby is shooting. He’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” referring to the Israel Defense Forces.

On domestic issues, Adelson is more Chamber of Commerce Republican than movement conservative or Trumpian populist. He is pro-choice and has called for work permits and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, a position sharply at odds with Trump’s. While the Koch brothers, his fellow Republican megadonors, have evinced concern over trade policy and distaste for Trump, Adelson has proved flexible, putting aside any qualms about Trump’s business acumen or ideological misgivings. In May 2016, he declared in a Washington Post op-ed that he was endorsing Trump. He wrote that Trump represented “a CEO success story that exemplifies the American spirit of determination, commitment to cause and business stewardship.”

The Adelsons came through with $20 million in donations to the pro-Trump super PAC, part of at least $83 million in donations to Republicans. By the time of the October 2016 release of the Access Hollywood tape featuring Trump bragging about sexual assault, Adelson was among his staunchest supporters. “Sheldon Adelson had Donald Trump’s back,” said Steve Bannon in a speech last year, speaking of the time after the scandal broke. “He was there.”

In December 2016, Adelson donated $5 million to the Trump inaugural festivities. The Adelsons had better seats at Trump’s inauguration than many Cabinet secretaries. The whole family, including their two college-age sons, came to Washington for the celebration. One of his sons posted a picture on Instagram of the event with the hashtag #HuckFillary.

The investment paid off in access and in financial returns. Adelson has met with Trump or visited the White House at least six times since Trump’s election victory. The two speak regularly. Adelson has also had access to others in the White House. He met privately with Vice President Mike Pence before Pence gave a speech at Adelson’s Venetian resort in Las Vegas last year. “He just calls the president all the time. Donald Trump takes Sheldon Adelson’s calls,” said Alan Dershowitz, who has done legal work for Adelson and advised Trump.

Adelson’s tens of millions in donations to Trump have already been paid back many times over by the new tax law. While all corporations benefited from the lower tax rate in the new law, many incurred an extra bill in the transition because profits overseas were hit with a one-time tax. But not Sands. Adelson’s company hired lobbyists to press Trump’s Treasury Department and Congress on provisions that would help companies like Sands that paid high taxes abroad, according to public filings and tax experts. The lobbying effort appears to have worked. After Trump signed the tax overhaul into law in December, Las Vegas Sands recorded a benefit from the new law the company estimated at $1.2 billion.

The Adelson family owns 55 percent of Las Vegas Sands, which is publicly traded, according to filings. The Treasury Department didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Now as Trump and the Republican Party face a reckoning in the midterm elections in November, they have once again turned to Adelson. He has given at least $55 million so far.

IN 2014, ADELSON TOLD an interviewer he was not interested in building a dynasty. “I want my legacy to be that I helped out humankind,” he said, underscoring his family’s considerable donations to medical research. But he gives no indication of sticking to a quiet life of philanthropy. In the last four years, he has used the Sands’ fleet of private jets, assiduously meeting with world leaders and seeking to build new casinos in Japan, Korea and Brazil.

He is closest in Japan. Japan has been considering lifting its ban on casinos for years, in spite of majority opposition in polls from a public that is wary of the social problems that might result. A huge de facto gambling industry of the pinball-like game pachinko has long existed in the country, historically associated with organized crime and seedy parlors filled with cigarette-smoking men. Opposition to allowing casinos is so heated that a brawl broke out in the Japanese legislature this summer. But lawmakers have moved forward on legalizing casinos and crafted regulations that hew to Adelson’s wishes.

“Japan is considered the next big market. Sheldon looks at it that way,” said a former Sands official. Adelson envisions building a $10 billion “integrated resort,” which in industry parlance refers to a large complex featuring a casino with hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants and shopping malls.

The new Japanese law allows for just three licenses to build casinos in cities around the country, effectively granting valuable local monopolies. At least 13 companies, including giants like MGM and Genting, are vying for a license. Even though Sands is already a strong contender because of its size and its successful resort in Singapore, some observers in Japan believe Adelson’s relationship with Trump has helped move Las Vegas Sands closer to the multibillion-dollar prize.

Just a week after the U.S. election, Prime Minister Abe arrived at Trump Tower, becoming the first foreign leader to meet with the president-elect. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were also there. Abe presented Trump with a gilded $3,800 golf driver. Few know the details of what the Trumps and Abe discussed at the meeting. In a break with protocol, Trump’s transition team sidelined the State Department, whose Japan experts were never briefed on what was said. “There was a great deal of frustration,” said one State Department official. “There was zero communication from anyone on Trump’s team.”

In another sign of Adelson’s direct access to the incoming president and ties with Japan, he secured a coveted Trump Tower meeting a few weeks later for an old friend, the Japanese billionaire businessman Masayoshi Son. Son’s company, SoftBank, had bought Adelson’s computer trade show business in the 1990s. A few years ago, Adelson named Son as a potential partner in his casino resort plans in Japan. Son’s SoftBank, for its part, owns Sprint, which has long wanted to merge with T-Mobile but needs a green light from the Trump administration. A beaming Son emerged from the meeting in the lobby of Trump Tower with the president-elect and promised $50 billion in investments in the U.S.

When Trump won the election in November 2016, the casino bill had been stalled in the Japanese Diet. One month after the Trump-Abe meeting, in an unexpected move in mid-December, Abe’s ruling coalition pushed through landmark legislation authorizing casinos, with specific regulations to be ironed out later. There was minimal debate on the controversial bill, and it passed at the very end of an extraordinary session of the legislature. “That was a surprise to a lot of stakeholders,” said one former Sands executive who still works in the industry. Some observers suspect the timing was not a coincidence. “After Trump won the election in 2016, the Abe government’s efforts to pass the casino bill shifted into high gear,” said Yoichi Torihata, a professor at Shizuoka University and opponent of the casino law.

On a Las Vegas Sands earnings call a few days after Trump’s inauguration, Adelson touted that Abe had visited the company’s casino resort complex in Singapore. “He was very impressed with it,” Adelson said. Days later, Adelson attended the February breakfast with Abe in Washington, after which the prime minister went on to Mar-a-Lago, where the president raised Las Vegas Sands. A week after that, Adelson flew to Japan and met with the secretary general of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo.

The casino business is one of the most regulated industries in the world, and Adelson has always sought political allies. To enter the business in 1989, he hired the former governor of Nevada to represent him before the state’s gaming commission. In 2001, according to court testimony reported in the New Yorker, Adelson intervened with then-House Majority Whip Rep. Tom DeLay, to whom he was a major donor, at the behest of a Chinese official over a proposed House resolution that was critical of the country’s human rights record. At the time, Las Vegas Sands was seeking entry into the Macau market. The resolution died, which Adelson attributed to factors other than his intervention, according to the magazine.

In 2015, he purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the state’s largest newspaper, which then published a lengthy investigative series on one of Adelson’s longtime rivals, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which runs a convention center that competes with Adelson’s. (The paper said Adelson had no influence over its coverage.)

In Japan, Las Vegas Sands’ efforts have accelerated in the last year. Adelson returned to the country in September 2017, visiting top officials in Osaka, a possible casino site. In a show of star power in October, Sands flew in David Beckham and the Eagles’ Joe Walsh for a press conference at the Palace Hotel Tokyo. Beckham waxed enthusiastic about his love of sea urchin and declared, “Las Vegas Sands is creating fabulous resorts all around the world, and their scale and vision are impressive.”

Adelson appears emboldened. When he was in Osaka last fall, he publicly criticized a proposal under consideration to cap the total amount of floor space devoted to casinos in the resorts that have been legalized. In July, the Japanese Diet passed a bill with more details on what casinos will look like and laying out the bidding process. The absolute limit on casino floor area had been dropped from the legislation.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has made an unusual personnel move that could help advance pro-gambling interests. The new U.S. ambassador, an early Trump campaign supporter and Tennessee businessman named William Hagerty, hired as his senior adviser an American executive working on casino issues for the Japanese company SEGA Sammy. Joseph Schmelzeis left his role as senior adviser on global government and industry affairs for the company in February to join the U.S. Embassy. (He has not worked for Sands.)

A State Department spokesperson said that embassy officials had communicated with Sands as part of “routine” meetings and advice provided to members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. The spokesperson said that “Schmelzeis is not participating in any matter related to integrated resorts or Las Vegas Sands.”

Japanese opposition politicians have seized on the Adelson-Trump-Abe nexus. One, Tetsuya Shiokawa, said this year that he believes Trump has been the unseen force behind why Abe’s party has “tailor-made the [casino] bill to suit foreign investors like Adelson.” In the next stage of the process, casino companies will complete their bids with Japanese localities.

ADELSON’S INFLUENCE has spread across the Trump administration. In August 2017, the Zionist Organization of America, to which the Adelsons are major donors, launched a campaign against National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. ZOA chief Mort Klein charged McMaster “clearly has animus toward Israel.”

Adelson said he was convinced to support the attack on McMaster after Adelson spoke with Safra Catz, the Israeli-born CEO of Oracle, who “enlightened me quite a bit” about McMaster, according to an email Klein later released to the media. Adelson pressed Trump to appoint the hawkish John Bolton to a high position, The New York Times reported. In March, Trump fired McMaster and replaced him with Bolton. The president and other cabinet officials also clashed with McMaster on policy and style issues.

For Scott Pruitt, the former EPA administrator known as an ally of industry, courting Adelson meant developing a keen interest in an unlikely topic: technology that generates clean water from air. An obscure Israeli startup called Watergen makes machines that resemble air conditioners and, with enough electricity, can pull potable water from the air.

Adelson doesn’t have a stake in the company, but he is old friends with the Israeli-Georgian billionaire who owns the firm, Mikhael Mirilashvili, according to the head of Watergen’s U.S. operation, Yehuda Kaploun. Adelson first encountered the technology on a trip to Israel, Kaploun said. Dershowitz is also on the company’s board.

Just weeks after being confirmed, Pruitt met with Watergen executives at Adelson’s request. Pruitt promptly mobilized dozens of EPA officials to ink a research deal under which the agency would study Watergen’s technology. EPA officials immediately began voicing concerns about the request, according to hundreds of previously unreported emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. They argued that the then-EPA chief was violating regular procedures.

Pruitt, according to one email, asked that staffers explore “on an expedited time frame” whether a deal could be done “without the typical contracting requirements.” Other emails described the matter as “very time sensitive” and having “high Administrator interest.”

A veteran scientist at the agency warned that the “technology has been around for decades,” adding that the agency should not be “focusing on a single vendor, in this case Watergen.” Officials said that Watergen’s technology was not unique, noting there were as many as 70 different suppliers on the market with products using the same concept. Notes from a meeting said the agency “does not currently have the expertise or staff to evaluate these technologies.” Agency lawyers “seemed scared” about the arrangement, according to an internal text exchange. The EPA didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Watergen got its research deal. It’s not known how much money the agency has spent on the project. The technology was shipped to a lab in Cincinnati, and Watergen said the government will produce a report on its study. Pruitt planned to unveil the deal on a trip to Israel, which was also planned with the assistance of Adelson, The Washington Post reported. But amid multiple scandals, the trip never happened.

Other parts of the Trump administration have also been friendly to Watergen. Over the summer, Mirilashvili attended the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s Fourth of July party, where he was photographed grinning and sipping water next to one of the company’s machines on display. Kaploun said U.S. Ambassador David Friedman’s staff assisted the company to help highlight its technology.

A State Department spokesperson said Watergen was one of many private sponsors of the embassy party and was “subject to rigorous vetting.” The embassy is now considering leasing or buying a Watergen unit as part of a “routine procurement action,” the spokesperson said.

A Mirilashvili spokesman said in a statement that Adelson and Mirilashvili “have no business ties with each other.” The spokesman added that Adelson had been briefed on the company’s technology by Watergen engineers and “Adelson has also expressed an interest in the ability of this Israeli technology to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who are affected by water pollution.”

EVEN AS THE CASINO business looks promising in Japan, China has been a potential trouble spot for Adelson. Few businesses are as vulnerable to geopolitical winds as Adelson’s. The majority of Sands’ value derives from its properties in Macau. It is the world’s gambling capital, and China’s central government controls it.

“Sheldon Adelson highly values direct engagement in Beijing,” a 2009 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks says, “especially given the impact of Beijing’s visa policies on the company’s growing mass market operations in Macau.”

At times, Sands’ aggressive efforts in China crossed legal lines. On Jan. 19, 2017, the day before Trump took office, the Justice Department announced Sands was paying a nearly $7 million fine to settle a longstanding investigation into whether it violated a U.S. anti-bribery statute in China. The case revealed that Sands paid roughly $60 million to a consultant who “advertised his political connections with [People’s Republic of China] government officials” and that some of the payments “had no discernible legitimate business purpose.” Part of the work involved an effort by Sands to acquire a professional basketball team in the country to promote its casinos. The DOJ said Sands fully cooperated in the investigation and fixed its compliance problems.

A year and a half into the Trump administration, Adelson has a bigger problem than the Justice Department investigation: Trump’s trade war against Beijing has put Sands’ business in Macau at risk. Sands’ right to operate expires in a few years. Beijing could throttle the flow of money and people from the mainland to Macau. Sands and the other foreign operators in Macau “now sit on a geopolitical fault line. Their Macau concessions can therefore be on the line,” said a report from the Hong Kong business consultancy Steve Vickers & Associates.

A former Sands board member, George Koo, wrote a column in the Asia Times newspaper in April warning that Beijing could undercut the Macau market by legalizing casinos in the southern island province of Hainan. “A major blow in the trade war would be for China to allow Hainan to become a gambling destination and divert visitors who would otherwise be visiting Macau,” Koo wrote. “As one of Trump’s principal supporters, it’s undoubtedly a good time for Mr. Adelson to have a private conversation with the president.”

It’s not clear if Adelson has had that conversation. According to The Associated Press, Adelson was present for a discussion of China policy at the dinner he attended with Trump at the White House in February 2017. In September, Trump escalated his trade war with China. He raised tariffs on $200 billion Chinese imports. China retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products.

Adelson has said privately that if he can be helpful in any way he would volunteer himself to do whatever is asked for either side of the equation — the U.S. or China, according to a person who has spoken to him.

TOROSSIAN, the public relations executive, calls Adelson “this generation’s Rothschild” for his support of Israel. In early May, the Adelsons gave $30 million to the super PAC that is seeking to keep Republican control of the House for the remainder of Trump’s term. A few days later, Trump announced he was killing the Iran nuclear deal, a target of Adelson’s and the Netanyahu government’s for years. The following day, Adelson met with the president at the White House.

Five days later, Adelson was in Israel for another landmark, the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem marked a major shift in U.S. foreign policy, long eschewed by presidents of both parties. Besides dealing a major blow to Palestinian claims on part of the city, which are recognized by most of the world, it was the culmination of a more than 20-year project of the Adelsons. Sheldon and Miriam personally lobbied for the move on Capitol Hill as far back as 1995.

In an audience dotted with yarmulkes and MAGA-red hats, the Adelsons were in the front now, next to Netanyahu and his wife, the Kushners and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. A beaming Miriam, wearing a dress featuring an illustration of the Jerusalem skyline, filmed the event with her phone. She wrote a first-person account of the ceremony that was co-published on the front page of the two newspapers the Adelsons own, Israel Hayom and the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “The embassy opening is a crowning moment for U.S. foreign policy and for our president, Donald Trump. Just over a year into his first term, he has re-enshrined the United States as the standard-bearer of moral clarity and courage in a world that too often feels adrift.”

Adelson paid for the official delegation of Guatemala, the only other country to move its embassy, to travel to Israel. “Sheldon told me that any country that wants to move its embassy to Jerusalem, he’ll fly them in — the president and everyone — for the opening,” said Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce CEO Duvi Honig, who was in attendance.

Klein, the Zionist Organization of America president, was also there. The Adelsons, he said, “were glowing with a serene happiness like I’ve never seen them. Sheldon said to me, ‘President Trump promised he would do this and he did it.’ And he almost became emotional. ‘And look, Mort, he did it.’”

Do you have information about Sheldon Adelson and the Trump administration? Reach Justin at justin@propublica.org or on Signal at (774) 826-6240.


          10/10 Links Pt1: UNESCO: Rachel's Tomb and Cave of Patriarchs part of 'Occupied Palestine'; Global News Erroneously Claims Palestinian Terrorist Killed 2 Israeli Soldiers – Not Civilians      Cache   Translate Page      
From Ian:

UNESCO: Rachel's Tomb and Cave of Patriarchs part of 'Occupied Palestine'
The PX Commission of the Executive Board of UNESCO on Wednesday morning adopted resolutions 28 and 29, titled "Occupied Palestine," which state that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are "an integral part of the Occupied Palestinian territory" and condemning the construction of the security fence and "other measures aimed at altering the character, status and demographic composition of the Occupied Palestinian territory."

Both resolutions were sponsored by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, and were approved within minutes at the commission’s meeting, which includes the 59 members of UNESCO’s Executive Committee. Israel is not a member of the Executive Committee.

The resolutions also refer to Israel as "occupier" and condemn "Israeli army violations against Palestinian universities and schools," criticize the construction of the security fence, deplore the destruction of Palestinian schools, including in the village Khan al-Ahmar and regret Israel’s excavation projects in east Jerusalem.

UNESCO's assistant director-general for external relations, Nicolas Kassianides, said at the meeting that the resolutions were adopted following close consultations between the member states, and welcoming "the spirit of constructive dialogue that enabled to reach a consensus."

Kassianides further said the adoption of the resolution by consensus "confirms the positive momentum that started last year, especially on this subject which is very sensitive," hailing in particularly efforts by the Palestinians, Jordan and Israel to reach agreement.

Over the years, UNESCO included both items in the final text adopted annually by the agency’s Executive Committee. But when Audrey Azoulay took office last year as head of UNESCO, a compromise was achieved, with the resolutions adopted as an annex, and not inside the body of the text. This was the case today as well.

Belgium acknowledges Pisgat Ze’ev as part of Jerusalem
After sending the Tenzer family a letter stating that the parents of the family live in “Jerusalem”, while their two children live in “Palestinian territories,” the Belgian consulate in Jerusalem has announced the error was due to a technical malfunction in its computers that has since been amended.

"We would like to inform you that due to a technical error in our computer, the addresses of your children Talia and Gilad were incorrectly registered, and since then the error has been corrected," the second letter the consulate sent read.

The family reside in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood, which is located over the Green Line in eastern Jerusalem that was captured and annexed by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.

The first letter, which was sent to every Belgian citizen as the Western European country approaches its national elections, was intended to explain to all expats their rights and how to cast their vote.

The family said that all letters addressed to the family from the Belgian consulate have always referred to all its members simply as residents of Jerusalem.
Caroline Glick: Russia Raises the Stakes in Syria with S-300 Missiles
Last week, India signed a deal to purchase Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system. How likely is that deal to come to fruition if the U.S. and Israel expose the failings of the S-300? What about Turkey’s agreement to purchase the S-400?

While these key issues remain unknown, there are low-risk moves the U.S. can take in response to Russia’s adoption of a new, far more aggressive posture towards Israel and the U.S. that could serve to deter Russian adventurism and empower any moderate voices in Moscow that may have been sidelined since Sept. 17.

First, the administration could recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The move would empower Israel diplomatically and weaken the diplomatic position of Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime they control.

Second, the U.S. can launch a campaign to withdraw international recognition of the Assad regime.

Iran and Russia both base the legality of their operations in Syria on the fact that the Assad regime asked them to intervene in Syria. But the Assad regime only exists because of their support.

In truth, they are foreign aggressors asserting control over Syria and using a local Syrian proxy to legitimize their aggression. A U.S.-led campaign internationally to withdraw recognition of the Assad regime and remove regime representatives from international forums, including the UN, could weaken the Russian-Iranian political position in significant ways.

Third, the administration could ask Congress for a new, updated authorization for the use of force in Syria. Current authorization is based on the Obama administration’s strategy in Syria. The Obama administration’s strategy was to deploy U.S. forces to fight ISIS and take no action against Iranian or Russian forces in the country.



JPost Editorial: Behind the plan
President Donald Trump has the world in suspense. Everywhere in the Middle East, and in capitals around the world, everyone awaits the unveiling, the roll out, of America’s so-called “Deal of the Century.” What is the president’s peace plan, all are wondering? What is he going to throw out there that, we’ve been told, is way different than anything that’s ever come before?

It’s got everyone guessing, and there have been hints and unconfirmed reports along the way about this point or that – this neighborhood’s borders, or that country’s direct involvement, etc. – but nobody is sure what’s in it, and if they do know, they’re not talking.

But even while we don’t know the details, we do have an idea about what the US is thinking – from the man who’s helping to craft that peace plan: Jason Greenblatt.

Two weeks ago, Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations addressed the semi-annual meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The AHLC – established on October 1, 1993, less than a month after the signing of the Oslo Accords – is a 15-member committee of countries and organizations that serves as the central body bringing together international efforts to finance aid to the Palestinians. If anything in the Trump peace plan will include money, then what Greenblatt had to say to the committee has extreme importance.

“Let’s stop focusing on tired talking points and throwing more money at the same things we have been doing since 1993,” he said. “It is time to realistically evaluate what works and what does not.”
Moscow rejects notion of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday indicated that his country will not agree to any change of status for the Golan Heights, which Moscow, along with the large majority of the international community, considers occupied Syrian territory.

His comments followed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call on the international community Monday to recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin appreciates how important the strategic plateau is for Israel.

“The status of the Golan Heights is determined by the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow. “Changing this status bypassing the Security Council, from my perspective, would be a direct violation of these resolutions.”

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six Day War, and formally annexed the territory in 1981. UN Security Council Resolution 497 of that year declared that Israel’s annexation of the “occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” It passed unanimously.
Israel will continue Syria strikes despite S-300, Netanyahu tells Moscow
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told Russia’s vice premier in talks on Tuesday that Israel must continue to hit hostile targets in neighboring Syria, despite Moscow’s decision to equip Damascus with advanced air defense missiles.

Netanyahu said at a press conference that he told Maxim Akimov in talks in Jerusalem that Israel would continue to fight what it says are Iranian attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and channel advanced weaponry to its Lebanese ally, the Hezbollah terror group.

Despite the delivery of the S-300 air defense systems to the Syrian military, Israel was committed as a matter of self-defense to continue its “legitimate activity in Syria against Iran and its proxies, which state their intention to destroy us,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli planes have carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets, but there have been no reports of suspected Israeli airstrikes since the accidental Syrian downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air strike in Syria, an incident that raised tensions between Israel and Russia.
Seth Frantzman: Middle East divided on Nikki Haley’s legacy
“Sad news for Israel,” tweeted retired IDF spokesman Peter Lerner. “Nikki Haley’s role in the final destruction of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and her shameful and racist smearing of Palestinian protesters by Israel during the ongoing Grand Return March will always define my opinion of her,” tweeted writer Iyad el-Baghdadi. Across the Middle East, reaction to reports that US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is stepping down were as divided as the region.

Predictably, those supportive of the Palestinians and critical of US policy on Iran were critical of Haley, while those who tend to oppose the Iranian regime or sup- port Israel were shocked at her leaving. Haley was a strong voice against Iran’s policies in her speeches. In December 2017 she unveiled the wreckage of an Iranian Qiam ballistic missile at a speech, showcasing Iran’s involvement in Yemen.

Her departure comes as the US is dealing with a Saudi Arabia-Turkey crisis over missing journalist and former Riyadh insider Jamal Khashoggi that may involve a UN investigation or UN condemnation. The US is also seeking to pressure UNRWA, UNESCO and the UN Human Rights Council, and has withdrawn from various international bodies and treaties, including a treaty of Amity with Iran and a protocol in the Vienna Convention.

“Rest assured, Iran’s regime is terrified about who Trump/Pompeo will appoint next,” noted human rights activist and commentator Heshmat Alavi. He called her a champion supporting the people of Iran and noted her strong words against the Assad regime and Russia regarding their policies in northwest Syria. The Special Monitoring Mission to Syria, which covers the conflict there, tweeted that they hoped the new UN ambassador “will bring [a] more positive agenda to the international community from Washington.”
Five times Nikki Haley delighted the pro-Israel community
When Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that she would be stepping down as UN ambassador by the end of this year, the Israeli and pro-Israel laments poured out swiftly.

Haley didn’t simply defend Israel and its government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as her predecessors had under Democratic and Republican administrations. She led a game change: On her watch, and with the blessing of US President Donald Trump, support for Israel became a “with or against us” proposition. Slam the United States for defending Israel, and count on being slammed back, was the Trump-Haley credo.

A big chunk of Haley’s two years at the world body was about Israel.

“Thank you for your support, which led to a change in Israel’s status in the UN,” Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.

Netanyahu offered his gratitude as well in a statement.

“I would like to thank Ambassador @nikkihaley, who led the uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country,” he said.

Haley’s predecessors had also robustly backed Israel in the body, but there had been hiccups. The latest came in December 2016 when US Ambassador Samantha Power allowed a UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s settlement policy in the waning days of the Obama administration, about a month before Trump was inaugurated.

It was a rare instance of a US official semi-endorsing UN criticism of Israel.

Netanyahu and the centrist to right-wing pro-Israel community sees the United Nations as a snake pit, and any concession is seen as a betrayal. That was the message in the American Israel Public Affair Committee’s farewell to Haley packed into a single word: “consistently.”
US Jewish Groups, Israeli Politicians Hail Outgoing UN Ambassador Haley for Defense of Jewish State
Major American Jewish groups and top Israeli politicians issued effusive praise of US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley following the announcement of her resignation on Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished Haley well, saying she “led the uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called Haley an “ambassador of truth” who defended the Jewish state’s “clear right to protect the security of our citizens.”

Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon said Haley would “always be a true friend of Israel.”

HaBayit HaYehudi leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted to Haley, who will be leaving her post at the end of the year, “Thank you for what you’ve done for Israel. We will not forget.”
Nikki Haley: A Sheriff in Heels on Israel's Behalf
For Israel’s supporters in America, Nikki Haley was a superstar.

She won them over with a memorable speech at the AIPAC convention in 2017, right after US President Donald Trump was elected and she became ambassador to the UN.

“I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time,” she said, to enthusiastic applause. “So for anyone that says you can’t get anything done at the UN, they need to know there’s a new sheriff in town.”

Enough said.

She became the new darling of the pro-Israel crowd, and her appearances at AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups often included media reports that she received a “rock-star” ovation.

That’s for good reason. Unapologetically, calmly and intelligently, Haley passionately called out the UN over its anti-Israel bias; eloquently defended Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem; and firmly called the Palestinians out for the folly of many of their policies – such as insulting her and her boss.

Her uncompromising support for Israel at the UN conjured up memories of former US ambassadors to the UN, Daniel Moynihan and Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Many American Jews, pleased with Trump’s policies on Israel but equally unhappy with Trump’s behavior and governing style, have said – some quietly, while others more openly – that they wished Haley were president. Maybe one day she will run for the Oval Office – and maybe quitting now is part of an overall strategy to do just that.


Amb. Danny Danon: Thank you, Nikki Haley, warrior for justice and truth
Over the years, we grew accustomed to seeing the United Nations as an institution of lies and twisted half-truths the likes of which are disseminated by Arab countries and our enemies around the world, but with Nikki Haley's appointment as U.S. ambassador to the U.N., a new era was born.

Haley did not mind the criticism. She was not worried about being in the minority. She stood, head held high, with one goal in mind – to expose the truth. The change led by Haley at the U.N. Security Council, which brought an end to the automatic support for the unilateral moves by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to push forward resolutions condemning Israel and saw her voice her clear support for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, is just one example of her energetic activity for the State of Israel.

This was a period of real change, in which the tendency toward lies was replaced with the pursuit of truth, when the terror machines of Iran and Hamas and the lies of the PA were exposed to the world to reveal the true face of our enemies.
Continetti Responds to Haley’s Resignation: There Are People Around the World Who Will Miss Her
Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti said Tuesday that in the wake of Nikki Haley's "shocking" resignation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, "there are people around the world who will miss [her]."

Continetti responded during an appearance on "America's Newsroom" to Haley's resignation announcement.

"It is very shocking. Haley has been one of the most successful U.N. ambassadors in decades. If she follows in that tradition of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, John Bolton, now national security advisor, as someone who stands up for American values as well as American interests, someone who advocates democracy and human rights at the United Nations, [and is] also a stalwart defender of the state of Israel – there are a lot of people around the world who will miss Nikki Haley."

Continetti's appearance preceded the official press conference between Haley and President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, where Trump said Haley has been "very special" to him and lauded her accomplishments at the U.N. related to the Human Rights Council, Iran, Israel, and North Korea.

Continetti also praised Haley's accomplishments.

"So often the U.N. has kind of been just the institution for dictators and thugs and human rights abusers," Continetti said, "and it requires someone in that ambassadorial role, someone who is willing to stand up to these autocrats. I think Nikki Haley did that in her tenure."




Will Nikki Haley’s replacement be as supportive of Israel?
Whomever US President Donald Trump appoints to replace outgoing Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will have very large shoes to fill, Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in response to Haley's surprise resignation on Tuesday.

Haley was a godsend at the UN from Israel's point of view, passionately, eloquently and calmly defending the Jewish State and calling out the world for its hypocrisy and bias towards the country.

It is a safe bet that whomever replaces Haley will reflect those policies as well, considering the Trump administration's staunchly pro-Israel positions. But there is always that matter of style, passion and nuance – and that is where a difference might be felt.

No sooner had Haley announced her departure, then the speculation began as to whom Trump will tap as her successor. One of the first names mentioned was Trump's daughter, Ivanka, whom Trump said would be “incredible “ in the job. She, however, made it clear that this was not going to happen, by tweeting Tuesday evening, "I know that the president will nominate a formidable replacement for Ambassador Haley. That replacement will not be me."

Here is a quick look at three of the leading names to replace Haley, and their involvement on Israel-related issues.

Dina Powell
The Egyptian-born Powell, who is fluent in Arabic, joined the Trump team in March 2017 as deputy national security adviser, after a period of serving as an adviser to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner during the transition period.

Powell, who was a spokesperson in the US State Department under former president George W. Bush, with a focus on outreach to the Arab world, played a leading role planning Trump's maiden visit as president in 2017 to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and became a part of Trump's Middle East negotiations team that included Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Richard Grenell
Another leading candidate is Richard Grenell, a long-time US spokesman at the UN who has been the US Ambassador to Germany since May. Grenell has a close relationship with National Security Advisor John Bolton, with whom he worked when Bolton was an ambassador to the UN in 2005-2006.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Grenell briefly in Germany in May, shortly after the new ambassador rankled feathers in Europe by saying that he was excited about a “groundswell of conservative policies” in Europe that has resulted from “the failed policies of the left.”

Senator Bob Corker
Corker, the powerful head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has had a roller-coaster relationship with Trump, with the highs being his active consideration by Trump as a running mate in 2016, and the lows being a Twitter war with the president last year. After bearing the brunt of Trump insults, Corker, who has announced his retirement from the Senate at the end of his current term in 2019, had replied: “It's a shame the White House has become an adult daycare center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Recently, however, Trump offered Corker the ambassadorship to Australia, a sign that the two have patched over differences to a certain degree and that it is at least conceivable that Trump would give the foreign policy maven the nod. Corker turned down the Australian job.
Richard Grenell a 'family favorite' to replace Nikki Haley at UN
U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell is a name to watch as speculation commences on who will replace outgoing United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, a source with knowledge of the administration's thinking told the Washington Examiner.

"He's a family favorite," the source, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said of Grenell.

Multiple members of the White House communications team did not respond to immediate requests for comment regarding Grenell being a potential replacement for Haley.

Grenell spent eight years serving as a U.S. spokesman and political appointee to the U.N., making him the longest serving appointee at the U.N. in history. The ambassador served as the U.S. spokesman during many of the most contentious and troublesome periods in recent decades. Grenell ran communications during the war on terrorism, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, and the U.N.'s oil-for-food corruption scandal.

[Also read: Here are the notable Trump aides who have left the administration]

The president was livid with Senate Democrats for what he felt was slow-walking Grenell's confirmation earlier this year. He said in March that his nominees were "being blocked and/or slow walked by the Democrats in the Senate." Roughly one month after his tweet, Grenell made it through the Senate confirmation process.
Israel must stop arrests, 'abuse' of Palestinian minors, European MPs say
Israel should stop administrative detentions of Palestinian minors, members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Tuesday in Strasbourg, France.

PACE voted 47-11 to approve a report calling on Israel to work with UNICEF and the International Committee of the Red Cross to "change laws, practice and attitudes so as to fully protect the rights of Palestinian minors in the Israeli justice system."

Among those who voted against the report were representatives of the UK, Switzerland, Estonia and Moldova, who criticized it as not balanced.

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie called the report "one-sided and distorted," because it does not mention the participation of Palestinian minors in terrorism and violence, incitement in Palestinian textbooks, or the payments the Palestinian Authority makes to terrorists and their families.

"While you worked on writing this report in an air-conditioned room, an Israeli was arrested in a shopping center by one of the minors you seek to protect," Lavie stated, referring to the murder of Israeli father of four, Ari Fuld, by Palestinian 17-year-old Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin last month.

"While you condemn the arrests of potential terrorists, two more Israelis were slaughtered in their place of work," Lavie added.

"How many of the countries represented in this hall use administrative detentions to ensure their security? But when it comes to Israel, our right to defend ourselves is only on paper."
Global News Erroneously Claims Palestinian Terrorist Killed 2 Israeli Soldiers – Not Civilians
On October 7, Global News broadcast an error-ridden report about the horrific terror attack in Barkan that saw a Palestinian terrorist shoot and kill two Israeli civilians and wound a third.

A Palestinian terrorist named Ashraf Walid Suleiman Na’alowa, is suspected of carrying out the attack that saw 29-year-old Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and 35-year-old Ziv Hajibi murdered. As of this writing, his whereabouts are unknown and a manhunt is being carried out by Israeli and Palestinian forces.

Though it’s a positive that Global devoted coverage to this terror attack, its journalists erroneously claimed that the dead and injured Israelis were all soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces. In fact, they were innocent civilians who were murdered.

Global’s Anchor wrongly introduced the report by saying:
Israel is blaming the deaths of two of its soldiers on an attack by a Palestinian gunman, a third soldier was injured when the gunman is alleged to have opened fire in an industrial park in the west bank…”

Global News Erroneously Claims Palestinian Terrorist Killed 2 Israeli Soldiers - Not Civilians from Mike on Vimeo.


Incendiary Balloon Lands in Jerusalem Suburb
A balloon fitted with an explosive device, launched by Palestinian terrorists, landed outside a home in Givat Ze’ev, a suburb of Jerusalem, for the first time Monday.

Police sappers neutralized the device in the private yard of the Samaria home and transferred their findings to a laboratory for further review.

Several similar cases recently suggest that Palestinians ‎in the West Bank may be trying to mimic a wave of recent arson attacks from Gaza and launch incendiary ‎balloons into central Israeli cities.

On Saturday, incendiary balloons launched from Gaza sparked a fire in Shokeda Forest. Firefighters, Jewish National Fund workers and Israel Nature and Parks Authority teams worked together to extinguish the blaze.

Incendiary balloons also landed in Kibbutz Nir Am and Kibbutz Dorot, but fortunately did not cause damage.

Shaar Hanegev Regional Council security officer Tayel Hajbi told Israel Hayom, “Today, fortunately, there were no fires because there was early detection, and when the balloons reached the ground they were immediately extinguished.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Fatah blasts Qatar over fuel delivery to Gaza
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction on Tuesday accused Qatar of working with Israel to perpetuate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Fatah also accused Qatar of meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.

Qatar has donated $60 million for help provide fuel for the Gaza Power Plant for the next six months.

For the first time, however, the payment process skipped over the Palestinian Authority. Typically, Qatar would have sent the money to the PA, which then would have purchased the fuel from Israel, to transfer to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

This time around it donated the funds to the United Nations, which then purchased the fuel from Israel, thereby leaving the Palestinian Authority out in the cold.

The gestures alleviates the humanitarian suffering of the two million people in the Hamas-ruled Gaza enclave, who have been living on four to five hours of electricity per day, followed by 12 to 16 hours of blackouts.

Fatah and Abbas have reportedly expressed outrage over the move, which they say will help Hamas tighten its grip on the Gaza Strip and sabotage Egyptian efforts to end the rivalry between the two Palestinian parties.

Abbas has imposed severe economic sanctions on Gaza, including refusing to pay for fuel, in hopes of forcing Hamas to relinquish its 11-year hold on Gaza and allow for Fatah to rule the enclave. Funding the fuel harms those efforts.

A senior PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that any aid to the Gaza Strip should be channeled through the Ramallah-based PA government and in coordination with it.
The same old Sinwar
Caving into Hamas pressure, La Repubblica journalist ‎Francesca Borri, which interviewed Sinwar, was quick ‎to post a video in which she states that she ‎interviewed Sinwar on behalf of the Italian daily ‎and a British paper, not Israeli media. ‎

Yedioth's claim that the interview was held on its ‎behalf is false in its entirety. "I am a freelancer ‎and my stories are translated into 24 languages. ‎Sinwar knew it. I do not work for Israeli media," ‎she said. ‎

‎"When Sinwar talked with me, he was addressing the ‎world, including Israel, with aim of removing the ‎siege the international community as a whole is ‎responsible for," she said. ‎

She stressed that she asked him whether this ‎was the first time he was granting an interview to ‎‎"Western media" – not "Israeli media," as Yedioth ‎claimed.‎

Borri further said that Sinwar "wouldn’t hear of ‎‎'normalization,'" cryptically adding that "at the ‎end of the day, we're all pretty smart. What ‎happened is clear to everyone." ‎

Woe the disappointment. As it turns out, Hamas – ‎the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ‎sister-movement of Islamic Jihad, al-Qaida and ‎Islamic State – has no intention of relinquishing ‎its call for Israel's destruction.‎

Sinwar has no intention of laying down his arms and ‎setting aside the desire to murder Israelis. He ‎simply explained that his "weakness" is the source ‎of his "strength" as giant, impatient, nuclear ‎Israel does not wish to eliminate him because it is ‎not in its interest. ‎

The bastard is right.‎






Iran spent $16B to destabilize Middle East, report finds
The U.S. State Department recently published an ‎unprecedented report detailing the financial ‎resources Iran invests in destabilizing the Middle ‎East. ‎

The report estimated that over the past six years, ‎the Islamic republic has spent some $16 billion to ‎prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and ‎fund Iranian-backed militias across the Arab world.‎

Assad has so far received about $4.6 billion from ‎Tehran, which also gives its largest regional proxy, ‎Lebanon-based Hezbollah, more than $700 million a ‎year, in addition to supporting other militias in ‎Iraq and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.‎

According to the 48-page report, the Gaza Strip-‎based Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist groups have ‎receives upward of $100 million from Iran in recent ‎years. ‎

‎"We know that Iran uses its economic revenues to ‎finance terrorism. There is no country in the world ‎that sponsors and supports terrorism more than ‎Iran," a State Department ‎official said. ‎

The report also touched on Iran's ballistic missile ‎program, saying that for years, Tehran has been ‎violating the international restrictions imposed on it ‎and has been delivering ballistic missiles to the ‎Houthis.‎
Iran Joins Global Initiative to Combat Terrorism; Loopholes for Hamas and Hezbollah
Looking to avoid further international sanctions, 143 out of 268 Iranian lawmakers voted on Sunday to support a UN Convention to end terrorist financing, but the bill they passed contains loopholes for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Known as the “Combating the Financing of Terrorism,” the international convention “involves investigating, analyzing, deterring and preventing sources of funding for activities intended to achieve political, religious or ideological goals through violence and the threat of violence against civilians,” according to the online site Investopedia.

However, this development is unlikely to cease Iran’s role as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

“Both opponents of the bill and foreign-media reports failed to recognize that the bill carves out exemptions for the specific purpose of facilitating funds to support Hamas, Hezbollah and other groups designated abroad as terrorist organizations,” according to Saeed Ghasseminejad and Toby Dershowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“To that end, the bill excludes ‘struggles against colonial dominance and foreign occupation’ from its definition of terrorism,” they added. “The bill even acknowledges it will not fully comply with clause 1.b in Article 2 of the CFT, which prohibits any act ‘intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict.’”
Turkey's Revolution Looks like Iran's - but in Slow Motion
The SAVAK's infamous Evin prison, which once held as many as 5,000 of the Shah's political enemies, soon held over 15,000 of Khomeini's.

Erdogan once said that "Democracy is like a tram. You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off." It appears he has reached his destination.

As Prime Minister and then President of Turkey, Erdogan's policies have become steadily more hostile to U.S. interests. He championed the Gaza flotilla, helped Iran transport weapons into Syria, and fought America's Kurdish allies.

Imagine what the world would be like if the U.S. had stationed nuclear weapons in Iran prior to Khomeini's takeover. Imagine what the world will be like if Erdogan seizes America's nuclear weapons.
Turkish paper publishes photos of Saudi journalist’s ‘assassination squad’
A pro-government Turkish newspaper on Wednesday published the names and photographs of a group of Saudi nationals who allegedly arrived in Istanbul on board two private jets the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a contributor to the Washington Post, went missing.

Turkish officials have said they believe the Saudi writer and government critic was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul after he visited the mission to obtain a document required to marry his Turkish fiancee. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations.

The Sabah newspaper, which is close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, revealed the identities of what it called a “mysterious” 15-member “assassination squad” it said was involved in Khashoggi’s alleged death.

The paper printed pictures of the Saudi nationals that appeared to have been taken by security cameras during police control at an airport.
MEMRI: The Disappearance Of Journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Before He Disappeared, The Saudi Press Accused Him Of Treason; Now It Is Expressing Concern
The disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, and was never seen leaving it, is a trending topic in the Arabic press, particularly the Saudi press. Khashoggi, whom some Turkish elements surmise was murdered by the Saudis inside the consulate, is a veteran Saudi journalist well known in the Arab world, especially for his criticism of the Saudi regime and his support for the Muslim Brotherhood. In the past year Khashoggi even moved to the U.S. in fear for his life, and began writing a Washington Post column; in it, he was harshly critical of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

Prior to Khashoggi's disappearance, and since his move to the U.S., there were numerous articles in the Saudi press attacking him, particularly in the 'Okaz daily. The articles accused him of betraying his country, ranked him with the leaders of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and described him as being in the service of the enemies of Saudi Arabia, starting with Turkey, Iran and Qatar, out of greed. Three days after his disappearance, a similar article called him "conspirer with reactionary ideas" who is loyal to the enemies of the state and is working "to sway public opinion [against Saudi Arabia] and underme security and stability in the country."

However, about a week after his disappearance, just as the accusations that Saudi Arabia had murdered him at the Istanbul consulate peaked, there was a reversal in the tone of articles in the Saudi press about him. Articles now expressed the country's concern about him, and the hope of hearing that he was alive and well. These articles also denied that Saudi Arabia had had a hand in his alleged murder, arguing that the country had no history of eliminating oppositionists in that way and that such an act would in any event cause more harm than good. They also stated that Turkey, Iran, and Qatar, and the Qatari Al-Jazeera TV, by attempting to accuse Saudi Arabia of involvement in murder, were essentially implicating themselves.

This report will set out the change in tone in the Saudi press with respect to Khashoggi, prior to and immediately after his disappearance and a week later.




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          The Simon and Riva Spatz Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies public lecture - "Single Mothers of color, Bureaucratic Torture, and the Divinity of the Nation-State"      Cache   Translate Page      

Dr. Lavie's Lecture Abstract:

Anthropologist Smadar Lavie will discuss her new book, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture 2nd edition (July 2018). The Mizrahim are Jews from North Africa and the Middle East who comprise Israel's majority Jewish population. They suffer from systematic discrimination by Israel's Ashkenazi Jews who drive Israeli policymaking. Lavie's is the first English language ethnography about single mothers in the Middle East. This is one of the very few ethnographies about single mothers outside North America.  The book explores Israel's intra-Jewish racial and ethnic conflicts from a feminist perspective. It analyzes how the plight of Mizrahi single mothers relates to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as its tensions with Iran and other neighboring Arab countries. Lavie uncovers the conundrum of loving and staying loyal to a state that uses its bureaucratic system to repeatedly inflict pain on its non-European majority who, despite this pain, is willing to sacrifice their lives for what they conceive of as the state's security. 

From the Reviews of the 1st edition:

"An important and provocative book that deserves to be widely read well beyond anthropology."

—Tobias Kelly, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"This book is not just a unique contribution to understanding gender and race in state bureaucracy and the operations of nationalism in the Middle East…it exposes how inhumanity can be normalized and can thrive in any modern liberal democracy."

—Sealing Cheng, Asian Anthropology

"Rarely one encounters a comprehensive, nuanced, insightful, and realistic exposition on Israeli society packaged in such a slim book."

—Meir Amor, Arab Studies Quarterly

"A masterwork of transnational feminist studies and critical theory, a teachable work from the perspective of a Mizraḥi welfare mother and critical scholar—the like of which does not exist."

—Brooke Lober, Feminist Formations

"The book deals – explicitly and straightforwardly –with the history of Zionism and Mizrahi women, and the wider socio-politics of Mizrahim in Israel. Lavie offers a masterful analysis of the historical Mizrahi support of the Right..."

--Yacov Yadgar, Journal of Modern Jewish Studies​




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