Sheldon Adelson is an American billionaire who’s donated huge sums of money to Jewish and non-Jewish causes in the US and Israel. He also is a major donor to the Republican Party. Despite the huge sums he’s provided to GOP hopefuls in past presidential contests, his success has been mixed at best.
In 2012, he spent millions on losing GOP primary candidate Newt Gingrich. Then, following Gingrich’s withdrawal from the race, Adelson spent millions more on the party’s nominee Mitt Romney.
Barack Obama of course defeated Romney in the November general election – which came as a shock to Guardian readers warned as they were about the control Adelson exercised over the political system.
Despite Adelson’s 2012 failures, the Guardian has again published a political analysis warning that this one Zionist Jew represents ‘the invisible hand which guides Republican fortunes’.
The headline is problematic for two reasons. First, in 2015 it seems odd to describe Adelson as “invisible”. Indeed, it would be hard to find any serious student of American politics who isn’t aware of his role within the Republican Party.
More troubling of course is the decision – presumably by sub-editors – to evoke such historically toxic imagery evoking the wealthy Jew stealthily controlling political outcomes.
The article itself, by Guardian Washington Correspondent David Smith, focuses on a recent GOP candidates forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) – what Smith characterizes as “an auditorium full of wealthy Jewish Americans”. Smith’s tendentious analysis is interesting in that it (rightfully) takes a stab at Donald Trump’s reckless flirtation with Jewish stereotypes during his address to the RJC, while seemingly unaware of his own dog whistle on the punitively injurious influence of Jewish money on the system.
In addition to the headline’s proto-conspiratorial reference to a Jewish ‘invisible hand’, and the subsequent reference to “wealthy Jewish Americans”, Smith also evokes the dual loyalty charge in suggesting that Republican candidates at the event were whipping up Zionist “hysteria” as “they lined up to swear allegiance to Israel“.
Given that Smith correctly excoriated Trump’s use of language typically associated with antisemitism, you’d expect him to avoid conflating support for Israel among GOP candidates – reflecting merely the pro-Israel consensus in the US – with an unhealthy loyalty to a foreign power.
Indeed, one well-known American extremist, commenting recently on the US presidential elections, used the same language, complaining that Zionist control of US foreign policy is so extreme that Republicans and Democrats “must swear allegiance to the foreign nation of Israel.”
As if to further buttress his philosemitic credentials with readers by ‘naming and shaming’ antisemitism, further into the article Smith (quite strangely) imputes prejudice to Ohio governor John Kasich’s claim he was taught to seek Jewish friends because Jews are loyal.
The question of whether or not Jews are disproportionately loyal is beside the point. Suffice to say that that most definitions of antisemitism do not include assigning character traits to Jews which are positive. (For instance, saying that “Jews are smart” may or may not be true, but it certainly isn’t antisemitic.) Rather, most serious understandings of anti-Jewish racism include ‘negative’ stereotypes about Jews which have been used by bigots throughout the long history of antisemitism – secret Jewish control of non-Jewish politicians being among the most pernicious example of such toxic canards.