Newt Gingrich - is he better for Israel than Barack Obama?
By HIRSH GOODMAN
I read that the Adelsons (as in Sheldon and his wife, Miriam) have given Newt Gingrich another $5 million for his campaign, a drop in the bucket of what a person apparently needs to run for US president now days, but a huge help in keeping the right-ofright former Speaker of the House on center stage in the bid for the Republican Party’s nomination.I don’t know if it’s money well spent or not. The Adelsons are known to be extremely generous, and have given institutions such as Yad Vashem and programs like Birthright hundreds of millions of dollars. They also fund Israel HaYom, a give-away daily that sings the praises of Binyamin Netanyahu and his government, as well as the President’s Conference, which allows Shimon Peres to fly in several hundred of his best friends for a meaningless, but well-catered, annual meeting.As we all know, Adelson’s money is primarily from gambling, flowing into his worldwide network of casinos as fast as I can type. It is one of the few industries that seems to remain unaffected by economic realities. If anything, people seem to gamble more when there is little left to lose.Now don’t get me wrong; little will divert me from my Thursday night poker game.My problem is not with the gambling aspect of it. I ask myself, however, how Gingrich, who is running on the “puritan” ticket, can take this tainted silver, but more important, what happens when someone, who has seemingly endless amounts of money, can buy endless amounts of political influence, for what could be all the wrong reasons? We don’t know who the Adelsons are or fully understand what they stand for.We don’t know their real political agenda, only through hear-say. They shun publicity, are quick to sue when exposed in any way not to their liking, and can be quite viperous when crossed, as the people over at Channel 10 can tell you vividly.Conversely, it seems that Gingrich is a man of no integrity who has shown no compunction about selling himself before, as in the fees received in private for representing the very interests he so vociferously opposed in public.AdvertisementHe demonstrated hypocrisy of gigantic proportions when impeaching president Bill Clinton for inappropriate sexual conduct, while having an extramartial affair at the same time.Each of these alone is not so terrible. One wishes everyone had endless money, we respect privacy and politicians often leave much to be desired morally. When all three come together, however, the mix has the potential to be potent, and something Israel would do well to stay away from.Adelson is free to do what he wants to do on the American political playing field, as long as the Americans tolerate it.The problem is, however, that Israel seems to have become the ball, and whether true or not, most people are interpreting the flow of Adelson money to Gingrich as coming because Gingrich is better for Israel’s security than Barack Obama.Do me a favor, leave me out of it. Strategic relations between Israel and the US have seldom, if ever, been stronger than now. Israel and the US are more on the same page on Iran than in the past.There is nothing I can think of that Gingrich could offer Israel more in strategic terms than what Israel has going for it right now, other perhaps, than a change in the American policy restricting Israeli arms sales to China, something Gingrich would certainly not change and, if anything, would tighten.Despite economic realities in the US, the administration has just agreed to additional loan guarantees for Israel and not touched the military aid package.Also, occasional tensions notwithstanding, Obama is not pushing Israel on the Palestinian issue, has forcefully left a military option against Iran on the table, established a strong deterrent presence in the Gulf, kept the price of fuel stable, pulled troops out of Iraq and consolidated the battle against Islamic radicals in Afghanistan, Yemen and the four corners of the earth. How much more could Gingrich do? I say this not to get involved in the American presidential election, but rather as a plea to leave Israel out of it. There is something sinister and scary about having Israel’s survival ostensibly being navigated into the hands of Newt Gingrich by Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who have every right in the world to support their presidential candidate of choice, but not to play games with Israel’s security in their pursuit of political happiness.Israel and America share fundamental values that go across the political board. The two countries also share common strategic objectives. They rely on each other in many ways, and respect each other’s stability.Security, confidentiality, secrecy and discretion are all part of the same lexicon.Also, one doesn’t force medicine down the throat of a healthy baby.America has enough issues of its own. Israel, at the moment, is not major among them. I judge neither Gingrich, though I know I could never vote for him, nor Adelson, though what I know, admittedly, does not seem to indicate I would be invited to his poker table.But when it comes to American- Israel strategic relations at this very sensitive time, I would beg both men to tread softly: The stakes involved are too high for games of fortune.
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