Just after Christmas, Jonathan and Esther Pollard were flown on a private jet from New Jersey to Tel Aviv. After touching down, Jonathan kissed the tarmac and was greeted by none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Pollards had been flown in style at the expense of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson. The casino mogul seems to have been on his death bed at the time, as he passed away less than two weeks later, and yet he was determined to see this through.
Sheldon's string of ostentatious casinos in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore made him one of the top twenty richest people in the world. Unwell for a long time, he had already signed the shares in his company over to his wife in 2019. That made her Israel's richest person "by a long stretch," according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
For two decades, the Adelsons have founded and fostered a network of right-wing, anti-Palestinian organisations. They were the power couple of the pro-Israel lobby in the US. They bankrolled such groups as AIPAC, the Israeli American Council and Birthright; all are organisations which further Israel's apartheid colonisation of Palestine in one way or another.
Unlike some of the rich US donors upon whom Israel has always relied to fund some of its nefarious activities, the Adelsons did not live in the shadows. Supposed Israeli "dove" Shimon Peres, for example, recruited Jewish millionaires in New York to fund Israel's nuclear weapons programme while keeping it off the government books in Israel. This was done in order to keep its existence a secret from the Israeli cabinet until it was a done deal because some ministers opposed the programme. Today, Israel is thought to have about 200 nuclear warheads, the supposedly secret "Samson Option".
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson were a political power in their own right, though, a mantle now taken up by Mrs Adelson alone. Her agenda is anti-Palestinian, anti-Iranian and anti-Muslim; in short, generally Likudnik and Republican.
Upon flying the Pollards to Tel Aviv, she wrote a column in the Israeli newspaper she owns celebrating Jonathan's release. "Jonathan deserves Israel's deepest and eternal gratitude," she wrote. "Like a wounded soldier returning from a long and difficult journey, he deserves every benefit and grant the state can offer to ensure he can live his life comfortably."
What she failed to acknowledge was that Jonathan Pollard had committed treason against his country, the United States. Pollard was not an Israeli, yet he spied on the US for Israel, selling reams of top-secret documents in exchange for wads of cash stuffed into envelopes. He spent 30 years in a US prison as a traitor before being released by President Barack Obama. His parole ended under President Donald Trump, allowing him and his wife to fly to Israel.
Pollard's activities damaged US security. According to some intelligence experts, his was the worst act of treason in decades.
As a Zionist ideologue, it is unsurprising that Miriam Adelson praised Pollard's treason. However, the Adelsons are by no means the only wealthy Zionists who seek to influence the US government and democratic process and push it in a more pro-Israel direction.
We now know that President Joe Biden has appointed Anne Neuberger as his aide responsible for coordinating the federal government's cybersecurity efforts. As a senior cybersecurity official at the National Security Agency, on the surface, Neuberger may seem like an obvious and very suitable pick.
What very few press reports have noted, though, is that she's also a major funder of the pro-Israel lobby in the US. The family foundation controlled by Neuberger and her husband has donated more than $600,000 to AIPAC alone since 2008. According to the foundation's tax returns, these donations were carried out "to influence a legislative body" or "to influence public opinion" in the US on behalf of Israel.
Combined with her powerful positions at the upper echelons of US government and US intelligence, this, I believe, makes her a threat to US security, not least because Israel itself is considered a high-level threat by US counterintelligence officials. Although the colonial state claims publicly to be an "ally", in reality, it invests massive resources into spying on the US, as the Pollard case illustrates.
Israel and its defenders claim that Pollard was a one-off and that "Israel has learned its lesson," to quote Miriam Adelson. But nothing could be further from the truth.
As recently as 2015, Israel launched a major espionage campaign against the US in order to sabotage the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran over its nuclear energy programme. The campaign was unsuccessful, and the deal with Iran went through. But Obama's successor, Donald Trump – under the influence, no doubt, of his campaign funders the Adelsons – reversed that US commitment to ease sanctions in exchange for inspections of Iran's nuclear energy programme. He went on to impose even tougher sanctions to boot. So Israel got its way in the end.
Sheldon Adelson once advocated dropping nuclear bombs on Iran, so a hard-line anti-Iranian stance seems no surprise. In an interview on Friday, Biden said that he will continue to impose the harsh Trump-era sanctions. A US return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal thus seems a long way off. The president in the White House may have changed, but America's pro-Israel policy hasn't.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.