President Donald Trump's Middle East policies have proven to be disastrous, if anything, so far — and there's one man who could be the driving force behind those decisions: Sheldon Adelson.
Over the past few years, Adelson, a vast portion of whose wealth comes from his holdings in resort-casinos located across the world, has reportedly spent over $200 million to fund Republican candidates in elections and other right-wing causes.
During the 2016 elections season, he gave around $82 million to the GOP, according to The Guardian, and donated at least $20 million to a political action committee that supported Trump's election campaign.
In return, he demanded the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
And he got what he wanted.
In December 2017, Trump gave a huge thumbs up to Israeli military occupation by announcing to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
It was a shocking move that drew the ire of over 120 countries, including several U.S. allies, who pointed out Trump was essentially striking a match that would ignite a fire in the embattled region — and it did. Thousands of Palestinians protested against the decision and many were killed by Israeli forces.
More violence is expected, however, the Trump administration intends to follow through its promise and plans to build the controversial embassy between seven to 10 years, according to the State Department.
Meanwhile, the world continues to bash Trump, and rightfully so.
But Adelson, working from behind-the-scenes, remains more or less immune to any criticism. It's problematic because he is not only staunchly pro-Israel but also aggressively anti-Palestine.
In 2014, he maligned Palestinians, saying they are a "made-up nation" that exists only to destroy Israel. A 2016 report found he took his anti-Palestine agenda to college campuses and funded a group that publicly accused individual students of supporting terrorism and promoting "Jew Hatred."
The "terroristic" activities included anything the students would do to protest the illegal Israeli military occupation in the Middle East, including the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.
In addition to the Jerusalem fiasco, Adelson reportedly also influenced other U.S. foreign policy decisions in the Middle East.
In 2013, the casino mogul infamously called on former U.S. President Barack Obama to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran, instead of trying to pave way for peace. While Trump didn't nuke Iran, he withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May, again, much to the joy of his top donor and disappointment of U.S. allies that had worked for years towards drafting a peace agreement.
It is also believed Trump axed H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser to tap John Bolton at the behest of Adelson. Not surprising as Bolton is notorious for his right-wing, anti-Iran views. Just like Adelson, Bolton has also called for bombing Iran in an op-ed.
After pumping cash into Trump's campaign, Adelson also offered to pay for the building of the embassy in February, which creates a conflict of interest as private citizens cannot, and should not, dictate foreign policy.
Fortunately, for the Las Vegas billionaire, the Trump administration has never cared much for issues involving conflicts of interest, so, it seems Adelson will get his way, yet again.
While Trump has boasted the building of the embassy would cost only $250,000, that might not be the case as the total cost of a permanent embassy, which would take years to build, could be way — way — more than $250,000, according to NPR's fact-check.
Meanwhile, Adelson continues to pour $30 million into the GOP's midterm elections campaign to maintain his influence.
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