Newt Gingrich, the leading republican nominee for president, recently received $10 million towards his campaign from wealthy, hard-line Israel supporters. In the wake of these generous contributions, Gingrich’s commentary regarding Palestine has caused a legitimate concern amongst many who are aware of the realities regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are amongst the wealthiest couples in the world. Sheldon owns casinos and hotels worldwide and his wife is an Israeli-born physician. The couple contributed $5 million dollars each within 3 weeks to a political action committee supporting Gingrich’s campaign, which is amongst the largest known political donations in U.S. history, according to campaign finance experts.
Sheldon Adelson is a strong supporter of the state of Israel and is “adamantly opposed to a peace settlement with Palestinians”. Adelson also owns a newspaper in Israel that features Gingrich on the cover “blasting President Obama’s administration for its policy on Iran”. Such a generous donation from a single party forces many to ask, is “Adelson’s $10 million gift a form of payment for Gingrich’s world views?”. Adelson states that Gingrich is “good friends with him and his wife” and that loyalty and friendship is the sole basis of his reasoning for contributing so generously to Gingrich’s campaign.
To make matters worse, a recent article from ABC News also reported that “Adelson is currently under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials.”
Adelson’s single contribution helped revive Gingrich’s campaign. While on the campaign trail, Gingrich stated that “Sheldon Adelson is very deeply concerned about the survival of Israel and believes that the Iranians represent a mortal threat to Israel and the U.S., and he is deeply motivated by the question of having a commander in chief strong enough and willing to make sure the Iranians do not get nuclear weapons.”
In light of the funding, Gingrich has also played down the Palestinian bid for statehood. In addition, while on a Jewish TV channel, Gingrich stated that “the Palestinian people are an invented people with no natural right of return” and labeled them all as “terrorists”. Such atrocious, inaccurate, and ignorant comments have rightfully sparked anger, concern, and disappointment amongst many, including American-Muslims.
Cenk Uygur, from the show “YoungTurks”, a YouTube video series, addresses Gingrich’s statements by stating that Palestine is mentioned by Greek historians in the 5th century B.C., on Roman coins during the 2nd century A.D., and in the Bible as the “Philistines”. Clearly, for Gingrich to argue otherwise indicates his lack of historical knowledge. Furthermore, to label an entire group of people as “terrorists” is not only an uneducated statement but also an extreme and bigoted mentality which will hurt the peace process as well as U.S. foreign policy.
In addition to his remarks against Palestine, Gingrich recently stated that “he would only support a Muslim president if he publicly committed to giving up Sharia,” This statement further illustrates how inaccurate Gingrich’s understanding of Muslims and Islam is. Sharia is Islamic law; however, it is not the aim of all American-Muslims to implement Sharia Law. Nor is it in Islam to impose any kind of religious values or beliefs upon any one of another religion, hence the verse from the Holy Quran, “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Surah 2, Verse 256).
Gingrich’s statements reflect his lack of cultural and historical knowledge regarding Palestinians, and further illustrate his biased and bigoted views. The fact that Gingrich is being funded by the Adelsons is scary because money has the potential to influence the presidential candidate’s views on foreign policy. It also highlights a problematic policy which allows for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates; essentially opening the door to corrupted politics.