Adelson Donation to Israeli American Council Prompts Concerns

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 02:19 PM

By Courtney Coren

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The donation of at least $2.5 million by Sheldon Adelson, billionaire and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, along with his wife Miriam, to the Israeli American Council has some Israeli groups in the United States concerned about the impact of the group's expected expansion.

The IAC is headquartered in Los Angeles, but the group recently hired senior staff and a director in South Florida, and there is talk of opening more offices in suburban New York city, Boston, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is reporting.

The group ran into trouble in the fall when it asked in a survey sent to Israelis living in the United States which country they would back if there were a conflict between the two allies.

The survey prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to tell Israeli consulates not to distribute the survey. The question was removed by the IAC, but the survey continued to be sent out.

The expansion of the group has led to concerns about how the IAC will fit in among  organizations already in place.

"A lot of the smaller communities are very worried about rich people from L.A. coming," said Oren Heiman, an Israeli lawyer with offices in New York and Tel Aviv who also chairs an umbrella group for Israeli organizations in the New York City area.

Others, however, welcome the group.

"What the IAC is doing is actually great for the community," said Avi Cohen, chairman of the Israeli organization Bereisheet in Tenafly, N.J. "The IAC is the first and only organization that basically helps not-for-profit organizations working with Israeli-Americans."

The expansion plans were first announced in September when the Adelsons first gave the $2.5 million. The total donation has not been announced yet.

Adelson also founded and funds Israel Hayon, an Israeli newspaper. He also donates millions of dollars to an organization called Taglit-Birthright that pays for trips of young Jewish Americans to Israel.

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