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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adelson Suggests U.S. Nuclear Strike on Iran Ahead of Negotiations

Video from the blog Mondoweiss showed Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino owner who donates lavishly to Republicans, speaking on Tuesday at Yeshiva University in New York.

Sheldon Adelson, a leading donor to conservative politicians who share his staunch support for Israel, said on Tuesday night that the United States should begin negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program by launching an atomic strike on the Iranian desert.

The billionaire casino magnate, who donated nearly $100 million to Republicans last year, prefaced his remarks during a forum at Yeshiva University in New York with the observation, “If you really want peace, it’s very simple to send a message to your opposition.”

Video of the event posted online by Philip Weiss, a blogger who comments on Israel “from a progressive Jewish perspective,” showed that Mr. Adelson was asked about President Obama’s recent diplomatic outreach to Iran. After a digression on the futility of Israel’s talks with the Palestinians, he responded:

What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen, you see that desert out there, I want to show you something.’ You pick up your cell phone… and you call somewhere in Nebraska and you say, ‘Okay, let it go.’ So there’s an atomic weapon goes over, ballistic missiles, in the middle of the desert, that doesn’t hurt a soul. Maybe a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever. Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, for energy purposes.’ So.

Such a show of force, Mr. Adelson added, is “the only thing they understand.”

As my colleague Jodi Rudoren reported in May, Mr. Adelson, 80, is also an influential figure in Israel. Married to an Israeli, he owns a Tel Aviv newspaper that frequently amplifies warnings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.

After a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu said that any nuclear deal that allowed Iran to retain a path to an atomic weapon was unacceptable to Israel.

Supporters of talks with Iran, including the Iranian-American journalists Arash Karami and Hooman Majd, joked about Mr. Adelson’s conception of a vast stretch of desert in Iran populated only by rattlesnakes, like those found in the American Southwest.

That Mr. Adelson’s comments were made at a forum on “Iran, Assimilation, and the Threat to Israel and Jewish Survival” reminded the graphic artist Eli Valley of a political cartoon he published last year in the Jewish-American daily, The Forward, which poked mordant fun at the extremism sometimes found at such events.