WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sheldon Adelson reportedly offered the United States $1 billion to assist in the support of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile program.
The Las Vegas-based casino magnate contacted the White House in 2013 through his home state senator, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., then the majority leader, Politico reported Thursday.
“Congress had just passed a funding bill for the joint Pentagon-Israel Iron Dome missile system when Reid fielded a phone call from Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas multibillionaire and GOP donor,” Politico reported without naming its sources. “Adelson made an offer: He would personally finance $1 billion for Iron Dome batteries, paid through the federal government, so committed was he to safeguarding the Jewish state.”
President Barack Obama declined the offer, Politico said.
The incident appeared in a profile of Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and was cited as a rare instance in which McDonough was not involved in a national security decision.
Israel has credited Iron Dome, which has been funded by the United States since early in Obama’s presidency, with saving countless lives during multiple wars with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Adelson’s overture to a Democratic administration is unusual. The billionaire, one of the world’s richest men, has been closely identified in recent years with Republican politics.
An Adelson spokesman did not return a JTA request for comment.