New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says that American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have one major thing in common: They are both trying to destroy Israel.
In an opinion article published in the New York Times Sunday Review, Friedman calls Adelson, who he characterizes as a “crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist” to be Iran’s best friend. He reasons that the casino magnate and GOP mega-donor is feeding right into Iran’s strategy by endorsing policies that include delegitimizing the Palestinians, denying that there is an occupation of the West Bank and opposing U.S. pressure on Israel to give back land for peace.
Friedman writes as follows:
“It occurred to me the other day that the zealously pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, actually have one big thing in common. They are both trying to destroy Israel. Adelson is doing it by loving Israel to death and Khamenei by hating Israel to death. And now even Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey inadvertently got drawn into this craziness.
“What’s the logic? Very simple. Iran’s leaders want Israel destroyed but have no desire, in my view, to use a nuclear bomb to do it. That would expose them to retaliation and sure death. Their real strategy is more subtle: Do everything possible to ensure that Israel remains in the “occupied territory,” as the U.S. State Department refers to the West Bank, won by Israel in the 1967 war. By supporting Palestinian militants dedicated to destroying any peace process, Tehran hopes to keep Israel permanently mired in the West Bank and occupying 2.7 million Palestinians, denying them any statehood and preventing the emergence of a Palestinian state that might recognize Israel and live in peace alongside it. The more Israel is stuck there, the more Palestinians and the world will demand a “one-state solution,” with Palestinians given the right to vote. The more Israel resists that, the more isolated it becomes.
“Iran and its ally Hamas have plenty of evidence that this strategy is working: Israel’s 47-year-old occupation of the West Bank has led it to build more settlements there and in doing so make itself look like the most active colonial power on the planet today. The 350,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank reinforce that view by claiming their presence in the West Bank is not about security but a divinely inspired project to reunite the Jewish people with their biblical homeland.
“The result is a growing movement on college campuses and in international organizations to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state because of this occupation. This B.D.S. movement – to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel – is gaining adherents not only among non-Jews on American campuses but even within some Hillels, campus Jewish centers.
“Iran could not be happier. The more Israel sinks into the West Bank, the more it is delegitimized and isolated, the more the world focuses on Israel’s colonialism rather than Iran’s nuclear enrichment, the more people call for a single democratic state in all of historic Palestine.
“And now Iran has an ally: Sheldon Adelson – the foolhardy Las Vegas casino magnate and crude right-wing, pro-Israel extremist. Adelson gave away some $100 million in the last presidential campaign to fund Republican candidates, with several priorities in mind: that they delegitimize the Palestinians and that they avoid any reference to the West Bank as “occupied territories” and any notion that the U.S. should pressure Israel to trade land for peace there. Both Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney took the money and played by Sheldon’s rules.