April 24, 2024
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Knesset Wants to Shut Down Free Paper – Israel Hayom

Israeli Democracy at Issue

(JNS.org and combined services) The Israeli Knesset, in a preliminary vote, favored a bill intended to shut down casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s free newspaper Israel Hayom–the most widely read paper in Israel. Netanyahu said the 43-23 vote (with nine abstentions) “shames the Knesset,” according to Knesset Channel TV. Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Knesset, “Those who today support the closing of a newspaper are causing fundamental harm to Israeli democracy.”

Yet earlier in the week, according to The Forward, Adelson blasted the idea of a democratic state of Israel in comments to Jewish leaders at a conference in DC on November 9. “I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy,” Adelson told them. “[God] didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state… Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state. So what?”

Adelson funds Birthright, Yad Vashem, and many programs in the American and Israeli Jewish communities, as well as secular causes. He also channels millions of dollars into Republican PACS in the U.S. and donates to Republican candidates. He works closely with Englewood resident Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, and funded his unsuccessful run for Congress two years ago.

The Forward reports that attempts to get reactions to that comment from the recipients of Adelson’s largesse are being stonewalled. However, Abraham Foxman, the retiring executive director of the ADL, and a Bergenfield resident, told the The Forward, “Sheldon Adelson’s comment suggesting that it’s not so important that Israel remain a democracy is disturbing on many levels. In fact, the founders of Israel got it exactly right when they emphasized the country being both a Jewish and democratic state. Any initiatives that move Israel away from either value would ill-serve the state and people of Israel.”

 

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