Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, on Monday criticized Jewish Democrats who have called on Mitt Romney and Republicans not to accept money from Sheldon Adelson because of allegations that the casino magnate approved of prostitution at his China properties.
“I think it’s inappropriate and a rush to judgement,” Foxman told The Times of Israel, “and it’s taking politics to a level that’s inappropriate.”
Foxman noted that when financier George Soros’s character was under attack, notably from some on the American political right in 2010, the ADL “stood up and said it was inappropriate.” The current attacks on Adelson, he said, should not be immune from criticism simply because they were coming from Jewish sources.
Foxman was speaking days after David Harris, the president of the National Jewish Democratic Council, urged Republicans not to take Adelson’s “tainted” money.
“This week, reports surfaced that in addition to his anti-union and allegedly corrupt business practices, Adelson ‘personally approved’ of prostitution in his Macau casinos,” Harris wrote to NJDC supporter. “Given these reports, Romney and the rest of the Republican Party must cease accepting Adelson’s tainted money immediately.”
Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have given tens of millions of dollars this year to political committees supporting Republicans in general and Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, in particular, although it is not clear if he has directly given to Romney. He is also a major funder of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Foxman also protested the “selective” nature of the criticism. “Is the money tainted only when it is given to a political party?” he asked, noting that Adelson has made philanthropic contributions, too, to causes including Taglit-Birthright, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum, and the AIPAC pro-Israel lobby.
Matt Brooks, the director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, earlier said the NJDC call was “disgusting” because it was based on allegations in a lawsuit filed by Steven Jacobs, a casino executive who was fired by Adelson in 2010.
“Setting aside their partisan agenda, the NJDC should be ashamed of itself for attacking someone who has done more for the Jewish community and Jewish philanthropy than anyone in recent history,” Brooks said, also citing Adelson’s major contributions to Birthright and to Yad Vashem.
“If this is proven to be nothing more than rantings of an employee in legal battle, NJDC is going to have a lot of egg on its face,” Brooks said. “If they were truly mensches about it, they would wait until it is adjudicated.”
Adelson has clashed repeatedly with unions at his Las Vegas properties. Earlier this year it was reported that federal authorities are investigating allegations that he bribed Chinese officials to advance his interests there.