Former prime minister Ehud Olmert recently advanced a curious conspiracy theory – a theory that would almost be flattering if it weren’t so absurd.
Olmert charged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “intervened in the US elections in the name of an American billionaire with a clear interest in the vote.” Without a shred of evidence, Olmert pontificated that the “very same billionaire used Israel’s prime minister to advance a nominee of his own for president.”
Think about what Olmert is claiming. He is not suggesting the typical nonsense, that the Likud government used me to influence the American election. No, Olmert’s conspiracy theory is even more outlandish: he’s asserting that Netanyahu – who isn’t exactly known to be a pushover – somehow agreed to be my puppet during the US presidential campaign.
When I read Olmert’s comments, it reminded me of the old joke about the Jewish man who preferred reading anti-Semitic newspapers because they were full of such good news: how Jews control Congress, how Jews run the media, how Jews pull the strings of international politics.
I’m not saying Olmert is being anti-Semitic, but he is crediting me with a degree of power that I simply don’t have. The prime minister of Israel is very much his own man. I can also attest that Netanyahu has always maintained a neutral position vis-à-vis the US presidential election, as would any sensible Israeli leader.
In trying to make sense of Olmert’s claims, I can only conclude that he still bears a grudge. Before he left office under a host of corruption charges in 2009, his approval ratings plunged to single digits. It is widely known that he blames an investigative reporter at Israel HaYom
for prompting the legal investigations which ultimately led not only to Olmert’s political downfall but also, sadly, his conviction this summer for breach of trust.
Much is made of my friendship with Netanyahu, especially by Olmert and Yediot Aharonot
, which is a competitor of Israel HaYom
. Conveniently forgotten is that I’m also a close friend of Shimon Peres, Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, the last of whom is an articulate and thoughtful supporter of President Obama. Netanyahu no more does my bidding than any of these other friends of mine.
Olmert, who is rumored to have his eye on political office, has every right to run a spirited campaign. But he’ll have to come up with more than conspiracy theories if he hopes to unseat Netanyahu.
The writer is chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and founder of