Adelson Confidant: Christie Has No Understanding of Israel

Wednesday, 09 Apr 2014 11:56 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A confidant of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has said that he cannot support New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 because he used the term "occupied territories" in discussing the West Bank in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition.

"Gov. Christie either has no understanding of the truth of the issues effecting Israel, or he is hostile to Israel," Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told The Algemeiner an interview. "Either way, I am very uncomfortable."

Based in New York, The Algemeiner is a leading Jewish newspaper in the United States.

Klein, who has led the Zionist organization for 20 years, was referring to the embattled Republican governor's March 29 speech at Adelson's Venetian Resort and Hotel in Las Vegas. Christie was among several 2016 presidential hopefuls speaking at the coalition's spring meeting.

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A conservative Zionist who believes in a strong national defense, Adelson, 80, poured $98 million into the 2012 elections — and associates say he is seeking a 2016 presidential candidate with broad electoral appeal.

Adelson, with a net worth of $38 billion, recently placed eighth on the annual Forbes billionaires list.

In his speech, Christie described a trip he and his family took to Israel in 2012. The governor said that they "took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day."

The use of the term "occupied territories" immediately set off murmurs in the crowd, Politico reported.

The term refers to lands in which Palestinians live but where Israel maintains a military presence. The phrase is used in international diplomacy, but it is rejected by many conservative Zionists, who see it as validating Palestinian challenges over Israel’s presence.

In his interview, Klein told The Algemeiner that he approached Christie after the speech to inform him that the term was inaccurate and misleading.

"The term 'occupied territories' is a false term used by the enemies of Israel to make it sound like Israel has stolen Arab land,” Klein said he explained to the governor. "To be occupied, you have to have taken over someone’s legal sovereign area … the only two countries that the world recognizes in this area are Jordan and Israel."

Klein told The Algemeiner that he had asked Christie whether he would instead use "disputed territory" in the future, but that the governor had only responded, "I saw you shaking your head when I used that term."

He added: "When I gave him the opportunity to respond to me after I explained to him the truth about Judea and Samaria, the fact the he was dismissive and even caustic toward me tells me that he has no interest in understanding the truth of what is beneficial for Israel."

Christie later apologized to Adelson privately — and the casino magnate accepted the governor's comments, Politico reported.

But that's not good enough, Klein said.

"He is worried about Sheldon supporting him financially, so we can’t trust [what he said to him] on Israel or what his real beliefs are," he told The Algemeiner. "You got the real answer with me because there was no ulterior motive there. I don’t believe his apology for one second."

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