JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. billionaires Sheldon Adelson, a GOP supporter, and Haim Saban, who funds Democratic candidates, told an Israeli television station that “when it comes to Israel, we are absolutely on the same page.”
Adelson hosted representatives of some 50 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations at his Venetian casino hotel in Las Vegas to create a strategy for countering anti-Israel boycott efforts. The other hosts for the weekend meeting were Saban, Israeli-born real estate developer Adam Milstein and Canadian businesswoman Heather Reisman.
“It’s a challenge to get Jewish groups to work together,” Adelson told Israel’s Channel 2 in an interview on Saturday. Adelson also said the initiative would cooperate with Israel as much as possible.
Saban told Channel 2 that no matter what Israeli government policy is or isn’t, “One thing is for sure: We do have an anti-Semitic tsunami that’s coming at us.”
The philanthropists initiated the meeting amid the growing BDS drive on campuses. In the past year, student governments at 15 U.S. universities have adopted resolutions calling for their schools to divest from companies deemed to be complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.
In a statement read at the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the participants and acknowledged, “Delegitimization of Israel is a major challenge facing the Jewish people and the Jewish state.”
He added: “Delegitimization of Israel must be fought, and you are on the front lines. It’s not about this or that Israeli policy. It’s about our right to exist here as a free people; our right to defend ourselves; our right to determine our own future.”
Eight pro-Palestinian human rights groups over the weekend issued a statement critical of the meeting, calling it “the latest evidence of BDS’ success, and of the moral bankruptcy of its opponents.”
“Attacks from opponents, like those gathering in Las Vegas this weekend, will not succeed in intimidating BDS advocates, or in denying Palestinians their freedom,” concluded the statement from the End The Occupation movement.