Adelson Early Winner In Israeli Elections

Casino billionaire and Bibi buddy Sheldon Adelson is an early winner in Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to call a snap election. 

By firing Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu removed an outspoken opponent of some of his pet legislative goals. She blocked legislation that he supported codifying Israel's status as the Jewish nation state, and she supported a bill he wanted defeated because it would ban the free giveaway of newspapers.

Adelson is the owner of the targeted newspaper, Israel Hayom, which is distributed without charge and, like its owner, just happens to be an unabashed loyal supporter of the prime minister.  Not surprisingly, Adelson is also a  major campaign contributor to the PM, who also opposed the bill. 

Livni, however, strongly supported the ban on freebies.  Israel Hayom has the highest circulation in the country, something critics feel gives it an unfair competitive edge over others that don't have billionaire publishers who can afford to give them away free. 

It is fair to ask how well the paper would do if it had to compete with the country's other papers on an equal financial footing.  (Speaking of trying to block the competition, Adelson, who owns the Las Vegas Sands casino empire and is one of the Republican Party's biggest contributors, has said he is ready to spend "whatever it takes" to get the Congress to ban internet gambling.)

The free newspaper bill, which seemed on its way to final passage, will die with the dissolution of this Knesset, to the relief of Bibi's benefactor.

Firing Livni also pleased Adelson because she was the leading advocate in the Netanyahu cabinet of the two-state solution, which the billionaire opposes.  As justice minister, she also was able to block Bibi's Jewish nation-state legislation, which Sheldon's paper heartily backs. That bill also died with the demise of this government. 

That's a string of quick victories for Adelson with just one firing by his good friend the prime minister. I'm sure he will find many ways to show his gratitude.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.