The National Jewish Democratic Council has called on Republicans to
return no longer accept Sheldon Adelson’s "dirty money," citing — principally — allegations arising out of his ownership of casinos in Macau, China.
It’s well known that Adelson makes tremendous sums of money through his casinos in China which — according to 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain (AZ) — means that Chinese "foreign money" (to quote McCain) is flooding our political system. But this week, reports surfaced that in addition to his anti-union and allegedly corrupt business practices, Adelson "personally approved" of prostitution in his Macau casinos.
Some usual — and not so usual — suspects are pushing back.
We wrote the story, leading with the prostitution allegation (from a lawsuit filed by an employee Adelson fired), and I solicited a response from Republican Jewish Coalition director Matt Brooks (Adelson is a major RJC benefactor) Brooks said this:
"Setting aside their partisan agenda, the NJDC should be ashamed of itself for attacking someone who has done more for the Jewish community and Jewish philanthropy than anyone in recent history," Brooks said, citing Adelson’s major contributions to the Birthright Israel program, which brings Jewish youth to Israel, and to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum.
"If this is proven to be nothing more than rantings of an employee in legal battle, NJDC is going to have a lot of egg on its face," Brooks said. "If they were truly mensches about it, they would wait until it is adjudicated."
Alan Dershowitz, who is a Democrat (but who as far as I can tell has never had any NJDC association), blasted the NJDC over the weekend in the Huffington Post and Jerusalem Post:
David Harris, the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, has asked Jewish Democrats to sign a petition demanding that Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party stop taking campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson, and return those already received. They claim his money is “tainted.”
This absurd allegation comes from a highly questionable, if not totally discredited, source – namely a former employee who was fired and is suing Adelson. He claims that Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos. Harris has apparently credited this claim even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has he never heard of “due process” or the “presumption of innocence?
So did the ADL’s Abe Foxman, in the Times of Israel:
“I think it’s inappropriate and a rush to judgement,” Foxman told The Times of Israel, “and it’s taking politics to a level that’s inappropriate.”
Foxman noted that when financier George Soros’s character was under attack, notably from some on the American political right in 2010, the ADL “stood up and said it was inappropriate.” The current attacks on Adelson, he said, should not be immune from criticism simply because they were coming from Jewish sources.
Foxman also protested the “selective” nature of the criticism. “Is the money tainted only when it is given to a political party?” he asked, noting that Adelson has made philanthropic contributions, too, to causes including Taglit-Birthright, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, and the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby.
I spoke to Harris, who said he didn’t understand why the kerfuffle was all about the prostitution allegation when the petition more substantively cited McCain’s complaint about Adelson’s money. "The prostitution charge is nine words out of this petition," he said. "We talked first and foremost what John McCain raised as a real concern, the injection of Chinese money into the campaign."
Except, as noted above, the prostitution allegation is bolded on the petition — and "prostitution" is the largest and most prominently displayed word on the graphic accompanying it. Moreover, the totality of the Macau allegations, which include bribe taking, as of this writing, are just that — allegations. Nothing has been proved so far.
Harris acknowledged Adelson’s good works (Birthright, Yad Vashem). "One can do something good and bad, this shouldn’t be incomprehensible," he said.
Harris said he’s not worried about being tarred as a character assassin, and forwarded a list of RJC tweets deriding Vice President Joe Biden as a "clod," "lame" and guilty of "dopey pandering", and a blog post by Brooks in which he writes that "members of the President’s inner circle seethe with antagonism toward Israel’s democratically elected leader."