New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (L) and US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The recent debacle over New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie calling the West Bank the "occupied territories" at pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas conference only fuels the Palestinian cause and ensures Israel's continued isolation, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
The fact that Christie felt he had to apologize to Adelson in person would make Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei very happy, Friedman says, because the more Adelson tries to control government policy on Israel, the more Israel and its powerful supporters look like the "bad guys."
Iran would love nothing more than to watch Israel be destroyed by way of international public opinion and disdain, he says. Sheldon Adelson and his mission to financially control the US government's official line on the West Bank is only speeding up the process, he writes.
By using his billions to sway politicians towards what he sees as protecting Israel, Adeldon is actually hurting its cause, Friedman says. Adelson is "loving Israel to death."
"Now Iran has an ally: Sheldon Adelson — the foolhardy Las Vegas casino magnate and crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist," he wrote. "Adelson personifies everything that is poisoning our democracy and Israel’s today — swaggering oligarchs, using huge sums of money to try to bend each system to their will."
Last week, Christie apologized to Adelson, a key donor to Republican presidential candidates, for using the term “occupied territories” during a speech to Jewish Republicans.
The controversy erupted when Christie recalled a 2012 trip to Israel in remarks before the assembled crowd at the Republican Jewish Coalition event.
“I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day,” the Republican governor, who is believed to be eyeing a run to the White House in 2016, was quoted as saying by Politico.
Christie’s use of the term “occupied territories” raised eyebrows among the assembled donors.
After the event, Christie met privately with Adelson and offered an explanation and apology, which were accepted.
The New Jersey governor “clarified in the strongest terms possible that his remarks today were not meant to be a statement of policy,” a source told Politico.
Adelson, a confidante of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the owner of the popular freebie newspaper Israel Hayom
, is one of the most powerful figures in American politics by virtue of the massive donations he doles out to Republican candidates. His hawkish positions on Middle East issues, and Israel in particular, have been articulated in the past.