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Staunchly pro-Israel billionaire Adelson dies aged 87

January 12, 2021 at 5:04 pm

Sheldon Adelson attends Friends of The Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) gala in California, US on 1 November 2018 [Photo by Shahar Azran/Getty Images]

Sheldon Adelson, a major funder of the US Republican Party and supporter of both Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has died in Malibu, California, aged 87. The cause of death was apparently complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which Adelson was diagnosed in 2019, according to a Nevada newspaper.

Adelson gave $82 million toward Trump’s and other Republican campaigns during the 2016 election, more than three times the next largest individual donor, said Open Secrets. 

The casino magnate was a key figure in shoring up US-Israel relations. He also launched and bought newspapers in Nevada and Israel to promote his views, not least his strong commitment to protecting the occupation state.

He paid for a new headquarters for the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and gave $100m to fund “birthright” trips to Israel for young Jewish Americans. According to the Guardian, he was also the main funder of a group opposing criticism of the Zionist state at US universities.

In 2018, Haaretz revealed that Adelson funded an investigation into American activist Linda Sarsour by an Israeli firm with ties to the country’s police and military. Sarsour is co-chair of the Women’s March movement who campaigns for Palestinian rights and supports a boycott of Israel.

READ: Purchase of US embassy building by top pro-Israel donor raises ethical questions in Congress

Often seen in the front row of major geopolitical announcements related to Israel and Palestine, Adelson is known to have played a major role in the US Embassy move to Jerusalem, and pledged millions of dollars to the State Department to help pay for a new building.

In 2019, a US appeals court reopened a billion dollar lawsuit against Adelson. The legal action sought to hold him and more than thirty others liable for war crimes and support of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.