NOTE: I published a new piece at Mint Press this week: Haaretz Columnists Propose Genocide In Lebanon, Promote Right of ‘Artists’ To Rape Young Girls ‘For Their Art.’ Give it a read.
Excuse the arcane reference in the post title to a revolutionary Dylan song from my youth. But if you did need a weathervane to tell which way Sheldon Adelson was “blowing” in this presidential election, you’d look no farther than Israel HaYom’s front page.
Yesterday, the lead story falsely claimed that the radical left was using a new “weapon” against Trump: violence. The subheader read:
“Many want to see Trump fail; protests have now become violent; Chicago rally crashed…”
The report featured several videos, only one of which shows any violence (and that is one short clip featuring a shoving match between two groups of individuals whose allegiances cannot be identified). The videos show protesters waving placards, they show people shouting at Trump rallies. But they don’t show any violence. But far be it from Bibiton to be held to the same standards as real newspapers.
Today’s lead story offers an interview with New York’s “mythical” (!) ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani, in which he makes such pithy and memorable observations as:
On Trump: “Wise and holds strong views.”
On Clinton: “Her record is one of the worst in history. She’s failed in everything she’d done. Anyone investigated by the FBI is not worthy of being president.”
On Obama: “He’s turned us into weaklings.”
Only in Israel would an interview with a washed up, aging GOP also-ran run on the front page. As if it was real news.
Over the past few months, critics have exposed Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of Nevada’s largest newspaper. They’ve postulated what the deal augurs for the billionaire’s political goals. I’ve argued that if you want to see where Adelson is going you should watch the pages of Bibiton, Israel’s largest newspaper, and one of several he owns there.
In the past week, it has featured at least two glowing lead stories extolling Donald Trump’s candidacy. Only a month or so ago, political pundits were writing that Adelson’s money was riding on Marco Rubio. Apparently, the money of many of the GOP fatcats were on Rubio as well. But a funny thing happened: Rubio stalled and Trump roared.
Nevertheless, Adelson has proven himself nimble in abandoning losers and embracing winners, even if they weren’t his first choice. He did the same in the last presidential election cycle when he had a virtual “love-in” with Newt Gingrich, donating $20-million to his campaign; only to pivot to Mitt Romney when he won the nomination. It clearly wasn’t a warm embrace. Adelson prefers blood and guts political personalities. Romney, a Mormon, was too much of a button-down suit, straight-arrow type.
But Adelson has a problem in Donald Trump: he doesn’t need any money. So the major leverage Adelson has, his billions, don’t work in this instance. As a result, Trump can speak about Israel-Palestine issues as a bit of a loose cannon. Certainly, as far as the gambling mogul is concerned. Though Trump has taken on the personna of a Tea Party hell-raiser, he comes from the stream of moderate New York Republicanism. So his current views are peppered with some of those throwbacks to a bygone era.
That’s how Trump can tell the Republican Jewish Coalition he’s in favor of the U.S. being even-handed regarding Israel-Palestine; and how he can tell them he’s not persuaded the U.S. embassy must move to Jerusalem.
One might think that this would give Adelson pause. One thing he hates is a man who can’t be bought or controlled. And Donald apparently can’t. But he’s a winner, and that’s enough for Adelson.
Before leaving this subject, note the litany of Trump’s far right supporters: we have David Duke of course. And Jean-Marie Le Pen, who recently cheered the real estate baron on. Trump’s call for banning entry to the U.S. of all Muslims echoes the views of only the most far-right Islamophobic leaders, like Geert Wilders. Add Israelis to that list. Anyone who hates Arabs and Muslims as much as they do is viewed as Israel’s friend. Barack Obama? Definitely not. Trump? Why not.
This process of Israel’s ultra-nationalist political majority becoming chummy with the most virulent of European racists has been proceeding for years and I’ve profiled it here. Israel’s romance with Donald Trump is but another step along the way toward the sort of religious hatred and holy war which Trump’s rhetoric stokes. Israel makes its bed with European neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Now add Donald Trump to the list.
Today, he argued that the protester who was tackled at a speech in Ohio was affiliated with ISIS. The only proof was a video in which the man appeared, in which there was no evidence it was made by or supported ISIS. But just as I said that Bibiton never let facts get in the way of a good story; so too Trump thrives on the fact that his lies are swallowed by his followers hook, line and sinker. Even if reporters debunk them within moments of their exiting his mouth; the faithful are programmed to mistrust the truth, given that it’s offered by the “left-wing journalist elites.”
Speaking of Trump’s lies, he’s escalated the usual anti-Sanders invective which smears him a socialist or Marxist. Trump called him a “Communist.” I don’t believe I’ve ever heard that one before. But I guess we can expect much more of that in future.
On a related matter, after hearing that Sanders supporters flooded the Chicago Trump rally, I feared that Trump, not one to turn the other cheek, would sic his own supporters on Sanders rallies. That is precisely what happened. Trump tweeted, in effect, that two can play this game and that he’d be within his rights to direct his own supporters to do just that.
There are a few problems with that: first, Sanders did not direct, or have anything to do with his supporters crashing the Chicago party. They shouted his name in the hall, but he certainly didn’t approve or plan their actions.
I thought Sanders should have made more clear this distinction between his campaign and what his supporters did. He should have said that while he affirms the right to free speech of his supporters, he didn’t necessarily approve of their actions inside the hall (the protest outside was completely kosher). By not setting up such a firewall, he invited Trumpists to turn their sites on his rallies.
But if that happens, I’m certain Sanders’ supporters will not react the same way Trump’s people have. They will not beat anyone up. I would hope there wouldn’t even be any shoving matches. I’d hope they’d let security handle disruptions, if there were any.
My fear is that given Trump’s incitement of violence against his opponents, it’s only a matter of time before a Trump fanatic shoots or seriouly injures a protester. Marco Rubio has even said publicly he worries that someone could get killed. That may be the only thing he’s ever said with which I agreed.