Israel Responds to Death of Sheldon Adelson, 'Champion of U.S.-Israel Relationship'

Prime minister and president both salute casino mogul's 'generosity' for those less fortunate, and for the Jewish state

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Haaretz
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Israeli far-right politician Naftali Bennett and megadonor Sheldon Adelson during the opening of the year at the Ariel medical faculty in the eponymous West Bank settlement, October 27, 2019.
Israeli far-right politician Naftali Bennett and megadonor Sheldon Adelson during the opening of the year at the Ariel medical faculty in the eponymous West Bank settlement, October 27, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod
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Haaretz

Casino mogul and conservative megadonor Sheldon Adelson died Tuesday at the age of 87 after a years-long battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The Boston-born son of working-class Jewish immigrants, Adelson made his fortune from operating casinos around the world and became a major force in both Israeli and U.S. politics.

Sheldon Adelson was the owner of free daily newspaper, Israel Hayom, which, run at a loss, became Israel's most popular newspaper and a major amplifier of right-wing voices.

His death was met with expressions of grief from that political camp. In an English-language tweet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son Yair said "RIP Sheldon Adelson, a great American patriot and a great Zionist. Mr. Adelson detected [sic] his life for fighting for Israel and America, and for conservative values."

Calling Adelson a champion of the relationship between Israel and America, his father said him and his wife Sara would mourn "a great friend, a great man and a great Jewish patriot." 

This was echoed by President Reuven Rivlin in a tweet, who saluted Adelson's "boundless generosity."

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett sent his condolences on Twitter, saying that Adelson and his wife, Israel-born Miriam, had worked tirelessly "for the strengthening of Israel's security, for the diversity of opinion in Israel, and for the preservation of the integrity of the Land of Israel."

As well as altering the Israeli media landscape, Adelson used his vast financial resources to promote political candidates in the United States. Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump considered him one of their most important supporters, and both were indebted to him for helping them win their political battles.

At the same time, his political spending was heavily criticized in both countries and became a symbol of how “big money” was conquering the political arena – especially in the year after the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling of 2010, which made it easier for billionaires to spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns.

He is survived by his wife, Israeli-born Dr. Miriam Adelson, and four children.

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