Tags: Israel | adelson | las vegas | bilionaire | meeting

Sheldon Adelson Hosts Billionaires Meeting to Fight Israel Boycott Push

By    |   Saturday, 06 Jun 2015 10:53 AM

Gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson is meeting this weekend at his Las Vegas casino, The Venetian, with fellow pro-Israel billionaires and activists to discuss how to combat a growing movement on university campuses in the United States and Europe to boycott Israel.

The Israeli government considers the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign anti semitic and says the movement is focused on the destruction of the Jewish homeland, reports The Guardian. The movement's leaders support combining Israeli and Palestinian territories into one country while giving equality to both the Jewish and Arab populations.

The BDS' leaders, though, say Adelson wants a single state, in which Israel would annex the Palestinian territories and deny Palestinians, who he calls "an invented people" equal rights.

The movement was ignored for years as irrelevant, but pro-Israel lobby groups are seeking laws against it, and the issue is becoming part of the 2016 presidential campaign, with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz denouncing the BDS movement while speaking at a dinner with Adelson.

"BDS is premised on a lie and it is antisemitism plain and simple," said Cruz, who like other Republicans is seeking money from Adelson, who spent $150 million in the 2012 presidential elections.

Israeli leaders, though, are more concerned about the movement's rise on college campuses, saying it erodes support among the United States' future leaders. Resolutions have been passed at seven universities and rejected at eight others to divest from Israel, and the movement is said to be especially strong at the University of California, where there are nearly a quarter of a million students.

Adelson's meeting shows the BDS is growing stronger, said Yousef Munayyer, director of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

"You see a trajectory that follows that famed Mahatma Gandhi quote. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Now we’re at the third stage which is, then they fight you," he said.

"We’re seeing it in the public pronouncements of Israeli officials. In the adoption of some of those positions by American officials. We’re seeing it in legislatures both at the state and federal level in the United States where there are initiatives to pass laws that would make it more difficult to advance BDS victories."

The meeting, first reported by The Forward, is attracting billionaires such as Hollywood entertainment mogul Haim Saban and Israeli-born property developer, Adam Milstein. The Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America are also expected to attend, but the influential J-Street, which opposes BDS, was not invited, likely because of its criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the publication said.

Munayyer said the the claims that Israel's existence is being threatened differs from the views of many younger Americans, who see "Israel as a powerful oppressor using these massive weapons of war against a stateless people."

Meanwhile, lawmakers in several states are debating laws to stop colleges from boycotting Israel, including threatening to remove funding, saying such sanctions are anti semitic.

The focus is on the BDS movement, The Guardian reports, but there has been a political battle over the Middle East going on in U.S. universities for years.

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Gambling magnate Sheldon Adelson is meeting this weekend at his Las Vegas casino, The Venetian, with fellow pro-Israel billionaires and activists to discuss how to combat a growing movement on university campuses in the United States and Europe to boycott Israel.
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Saturday, 06 Jun 2015 10:53 AM
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