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Adelson ‘offered Obama $1b for Iron Dome for Israel’

Casino magnate reportedly asked Senate leader to tell White House he would personally finance missile defense program; president demurred

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Sheldon Adelson, 2014 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, via JTA)
Sheldon Adelson, 2014 (Ethan Miller/Getty Images, via JTA)

Jewish-American billionaire and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson reportedly offered US President Barack Obama to personally finance $1 billion for the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system for Israel.

After congress passed a bill to fund the Iron Dome system in 2013, Adelson contacted Senate Minority leader Harry Reed and asked him to convey the message to the White House, Politico reported Thursday. The revelation came as part of a profile of Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough.

“In 2013, Reid used his open channel to float a proposal—not made public until now—that stunned Obama and his staff,” the report said. “Congress had just passed a funding bill for the joint Pentagon-Israel Iron Dome missile system when Reid fielded a phone call from Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas multibillionaire and GOP donor.”

“Obama was thrown off his guard momentarily,” the story reported. “‘What?!’ Obama asked Reid.

But when the president “regained his footing,” he said that he didn’t think private financing of munitions would set a good precedent. He asked Reid to thank Adelson but turn him down. “The idea died.”

An Iron Dome battery seen near the Southern Israeli town of Netivot. December 27, 2014. (Talucho/Flash90)
An Iron Dome battery seen near the Southern Israeli town of Netivot. December 27, 2014. (Talucho/Flash90)
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