Sheldon Adelson sharply criticized AIPAC for supporting a U.S. congressional letter requesting increased aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Adelson, a Las Vegas-based casino magnate who is a major donor to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Jewish causes, likened the support to helping a friend commit suicide.
“If someone is going to jump off a bridge, it is incumbent upon their friends to dissuade them,” Adelson told JTA, referring to AIPAC’s support of the Israeli goverment’s peace moves.
One hundred members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on to the letter, which calls on the Bush administration to increase financial assistance to the Palestinians as a means of supporting moderates during Israel-Palestinian peace talks. The letter was slated to be sent this week to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Adelson told JTA that he called Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s executive director, and was told that the pro-Israel lobby had yet to take a position on the letter. JTA confirmed AIPAC’s support, however, with officials at AIPAC and in Congress. AIPAC officials declined to comment on the exchange between Kohr and Adelson.
Adelson, also a major donor to the Republican Party, would not comment on whether he would continue to support AIPAC in light of his disagreement with the group over the letter.
Eleven Jewish Democrats have signed the letter, which was initiated by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.).