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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.

After ‘There’s a Kid With a Gun’ Came ‘Teacher Down’

In a trembling voice, the student called 911 to ask for help as a shooting unfolded at a Nevada elementary school this week.

The student said: “This is a student from Sparks Middle School. Can you please send police out here? There is a kid with a gun.”

Witnesses are providing more detail about how a student opened fire at his Nevada school just after 7 a.m. on Monday, injuring two classmates and killing a teacher who tried to intervene before the student with the gun fatally shot himself.

In recordings of the emergency calls compiled by The Reno Gazette-Journal, the fearful moments as the shooting was under way were conveyed in broken descriptions: the shooter was “chasing” people around. Children had a gun pointed at them. Students and teachers were locked down.

And then another voice said:

“Teacher down.”

That man down has been identified as Michael Landsberry, 45, a math teacher who was a former Marine and national guardsman and had served at military installations abroad.

A statement released by the Nevada National Guard said he had served on assignments in 2006 in Kuwait and at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan in May 2011, performing air transportation functions.

According to witnesses, Mr. Landsberry, who was a master sergeant, had been in his classroom when he heard the shots and ran outside to try to intervene.

“Our understanding is that Mike, true to hero’s form, made an attempt to talk the shooter out of using his weapon before becoming a victim of this senseless tragedy,” Col. Jeffrey Burkett, the Nevada Air Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing Commander, said at a news conference at the base.

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Another student, Jose Cazares, an eighth grader, described in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show how the teacher tried to intervene. He said he and his friends heard what they thought was the sound of firecrackers. Jose said:

So then we looked back toward where we saw the noise, and we saw the kid pull out his gun and shoot the kid in the arm, so then they started running and I froze because he was aiming his gun right at my chest. And I looked at the gun and my chest like, “He’s going to shoot me.” I turned around and I ran. I heard a gunshot, and I thought he shot me. Then I looked back, and he shot a kid in his leg, arm and stomach.

Mr. Landsberry stood between the student and the shooter. “He was telling him to stop and put the gun down, and then the kid, he yelled out ‘No!’ yelling at him, and he shot him,” Jose said. Mr. Landsberry “was calm and he was holding out his hand like, ‘Put the gun in my hand,’ like to just stop.”

Mr. Landsberry was married with two stepdaughters, the Nevada National Guard said.

Follow Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.