During their Las Vegas anti-BDS “Maccabee Summit,” Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban, sat down for a joint interview with an Israeli Channel 2 TV reporter. She raised the issue of Orange CEO, Stephane Richard’s abject apology to Israel for suggesting his company would like to be rid of its Israeli affiliate. Saban replied with a tone of menace in his voice that any country that is even thinking about boycotting Israel should think twice because the harsh treatment being meted out to Richard is just the beginning for him. In other words, if you’re a corporate CEO and want to keep your job, heed Saban’s warning or you may be out in the street.
This is more than hardball tactics. This is the sort of bullying, brutish behavior for which Adelson is known. In the Middle East itself, it’s the sort of approach Israel takes to its neighbors. If you stand in our way, we’ll mow you down. Even if you don’t stand in our way, we may mow you down just for the fun of it.
During another segment, Saban jointly summarizes (on Adelson’s behalf) their overall goals:
Our interest is to take care of Israel’s interests in the United States.”
You didn’t hear a word about representing America’s interests because that’s not their interest. They’ve just raised the ugly specter of dual loyalty without having a clue why or how they did so. They may be billionaires and good at something. But they ain’t good at this.
Since earlier in the interview, Saban and Adelson had used terms like anti-Semitic and anti-Israel to portray BDS, the interviewer, in one of her few slightly probing questions, asked whether all criticism of Israel must be anti-Semitic. This is Adelson’s full unexpurgated reply:
“It’s people like you who are saying: ‘Is it really against Israel’s policy that you want to demonize the policy of Israel before anyone ever says that it’s the policy?
But it seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with anti-Semitism. As a teenager, I suffered from anti-Semitism. A lot. The area in which I grew up [Roxbury, MA] suffered from maimings, killings, rapes, beatings from those who were anti-Semitic. But I can tell you there’s little or no sign in society today that anti-Semitism is even 10% [of Americans].
“But I’m absolutely positive there’s a lot of anti-Semitism on campus. Now, the people who are buying it are not intentionally, I don’t believe are bigots. But they’re buying the arguments that are only reacted to by the various [BDS] groups that are here today. That’s why this summit was put together.”
I understand the man is over 80 years old. I cut him some slack for that. But to rewrite the history of Boston Jewry and claim Jews were raped and murdered in Roxbury because they were Jewish? Really? To turn Boston into a Ukrainian shtetl? Pogroms in Roxbury? No, that’s unacceptable. But perfectly acceptable in the pro-Israel fantasy world in which he lives.
As they wrap up, Adelson tells the interviewer that it’s now time for dinner. He asks if the Israeli interviewer knows the Jewish saying: “We finish something, let’s eat. And after eating we say we finished eating, now let’s eat.” To this bon mot Saban responds: “I support that 100%!” And they follow this with a high-five.
A zoch in vay. If this is what Jewish identity has become, perhaps we deserve oblivion. And with enemies like this BDS can’t lose.
H/t to Abe Greenhouse.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.