by Uri Avnery
"Who is the ruler of Israel?
"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, of course.
"The real ruler of Israel is one Sheldon Adelson, 81, American Jew, casino king, who was rated as the world's tenth richest person, worth 37.2 billion dollars at the latest count. But who is counting?
"Besides his casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Macao and Singapore, he owns the US Republican Party and, lately, both Houses of the US Congress.
"He also owns Binyamin Netanyahu. Adelson's connection with Israel is personal. On a blind date, he fell in love with an Israeli woman... Both Adelsons are fanatical supporters of Israel. Not just any Israel, but a rightist, supremacist, arrogant, violent, expansionist, annexationist, non-compromising, colonialist Israel.
"In 'Bibi' Netanyahu they found their man. Through Netanyahu they hope to rule Israel as their private fief.
"To ensure this, they did an extraordinary thing: they founded an Israeli newspaper, solely devoted to the furthering of the interests of Binyamin Netanyahu. Not of the Likud, not of a specific policy, but of Netanyahu personally.
"Years ago I invented a Hebrew word for papers which are distributed for nothing... But I did not dream of a monster like Israel Hayom (Israel Today) - a paper with unlimited funds, distributed every day for nothing in the streets and malls all over the country by hundreds, perhaps thousands of paid young persons.
"Israelis love getting something for nothing. Israel Hayom is now the daily paper with the widest distribution in Israel. It drains readers and advertising revenue from its only competitor - Yedioth Ahranoth (Latest News), which held this title until then. Yedioth reacted furiously. It became a ferocious enemy of Netanyahu. Yossi Werter, a commentator of the center-left Haaretz (which has a far lower circulation) even believes that the present election boils down to a contest between the two papers.
"That is vastly exaggerated. Judged by political and social content, there is little to differentiate between the two. Both are super-patriotic, war-mongering and rightist. That is the journalistic recipe for attracting the masses anywhere in the world...
"Adelson is unique. In Israel, betting is forbidden by law. We have no casinos... In our youth we were taught that casino moguls are bad people, almost like arms merchants... Israelis read Israel Hayom... but they don't necessarily like the man and his methods. So some members of the Knesset were encouraged to enter a bill forbidding gratis newspapers altogether.
"Netanyahu and the Likud party did everything to obstruct this bill. But in the preliminary vote (necessary for private members' bills) they were beaten in an amazing way. Even members of Netanyahu's governing coalition voted for it... The vote was 43 to 23. Almost half the Likud members absented themselves. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his party voted for the bill. So did ministers Ya'ir Lapid and Tzipi Livni... Netanyahu was furious. A few days after the vote, he dismissed Lapid and Livni from the cabinet, causing the government coalition to break up and the Knesset to disperse.
"Why did Netanyahu do such a foolish thing less than half way through his (third) term of office? There can only be one logical explanation: he was ordered to do so by Adelson, in order to prevent the adoption of the law.
"If so, Adelson is now our chief lawmaker. Perhaps he is also our chief government-maker." (zope.gush-shalom.org, 14/2/15)
To be continued...