Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife, has donated $10 million dollars in recent weeks to Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, has said that he wishes he had served in the Israeli army instead of the US military and that he wants his son to grow up to “be a sniper for the IDF.”
Gingrich himself has also doubled down on anti-Palestinian comments, asserting during a CNN debate last night that they were “invented” in the 1970s.
Adelson’s explosive comments are reported this morning by NBC’s Michael Isikoff:
Adelson owns a newspaper in Israel, ‘Israel HaYom,’ that backs conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and adamantly opposes any peace settlement with the Palestinians.
But while Adelson and Gingrich have bonded on the issue of a hawkish Mideast policy, especially over the threat of a nuclear Iran, some of the casino mogul’s comments could prove embarrassing.
In a talk to an Israeli group in July, 2010, Adelson said he wished he had served in the Israeli Army rather the U.S. military–and that he hoped his young son will come back to Israel and “be a sniper for the IDF,” a reference to the Israel Defense Forces. (YouTube video of speech)
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting – and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” Adelson said at the event.
“All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart,” he said toward the end of his talk.
Adelson is a major backer of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has been a major factor in pushing for confrontation with Iran. His support for Gingrich has given rise to speculation that the latter’s ever more strident anti-Palestinian positions including that Palestinians are an “invented people” are inspired by that support.
The revelations also come amid a fierce debate in Washington about whether some supporters of Israel can be described as “Israel Firsters.”
Palestinians “invented” in the 1970s, says Gingrich
In last night’s Republican candidates debate in Florida, Gingrich doubled down on his comments that the Palestinians were an “invented people” alleging that they were “invented” as recently as the 1970s. He also called on Palestinians to give up their right of return.
This is from the CNN transcript of the debate:
BLITZER: Speaker Gingrich, you got into a little hot water when you said the Palestinians were an invented people.
GINGRICH: It was technically an invention of the late 1970s, and it was clearly so. Prior to that, they were Arabs. Many of them were either Syrian, Lebanese, or Egyptian, or Jordanian.
There are a couple of simple things here. There were 11 rockets fired into Israel in November. Now, imagine in Duvall County that 11 rockets hit from your neighbor. How many of you would be for a peace process and how many of you would say, you know, that looks like an act of war.
You have leadership unequivocally, and Governor Romney is exactly right, the leadership of Hamas says, not a single Jew will remain. We aren’t having a peace negotiation then. This is war by another form.
My goal for the Palestinian people would be to live in peace, to live in prosperity, to have the dignity of a state, to have freedom. and they can achieve it any morning they are prepared to say Israel has a right to exist, we give up the right to return, and we recognize that we’re going to live side-by-side, now let’s work together to create mutual prosperity.
And you could in five years dramatically improve the quality of life of every Palestinian. But the political leadership would never tolerate that. And that’s why we’re in a continuous state of war where Obama undermines the Israelis.
On the first day that I’m president, if I do become president, I will sign an executive order directing the State Department to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to send the signal we’re with Israel.