The U.S.-Adelson Embassy?


There’s a Yiddish saying, “Too much is also no good.” (It sounds better in the original.) News of Sheldon Adelson’s generous offer to help pay for the proposed new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, which is estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, brought that old Yiddish saw to mind this week. Even some of the most ardent supporters in the American Jewish community of the embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem have expressed reservations about the gesture, and understandably so.

“This is a United States government project and policy,” Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America who has a close relationship with the Las Vegas-based casino mogul and philanthropist, told JTA. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for any private citizen to pay for the U.S. Embassy to be moved.”

Others agree that there is something unseemly about an individual, and in this case a major supporter of Israel and the Republican Party, partnering with the U.S. government in this way. The lasting impression might well be that the embassy move was the result of a favor from President Trump to a major donor —Adelson gave $25 million to the president’s campaign — and to the Jewish community rather than a matter of principle.

“The American Embassy in Jerusalem, as with all American embassies around the world, should serve, and belong to, every American equally,” said Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of government and international affairs.

The administration confirmed this week that a temporary embassy will be established in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem on May 14, the 70th anniversary of Israeli statehood. Many in the Jewish community here applaud the move, though some question the timing, especially liberal advocates of a two-state solution. They say the embassy move should take place after the Israelis and Palestinians agree to negotiate. Setting up an embassy now in Jerusalem — a move the Palestinians deeply object to — will only make the prospects of peace talks that much more unlikely, critics say.

For the moment, though, it seems the Trump strategy is to keep up the pressure on the Palestinian leadership to get on board or be left at the station.