Globe Briefs May 19

Globe Briefs May 19

Donald Trump reportedly to get big financial boost from Sheldon Adelson

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to spend tens of millions of dollars to help elect Donald Trump president, The New York Times reported.

Last Friday, The Times quoted two Republicans as saying that Trump and Adelson met last week in New York when Adelson was in the city to attend an event of the World Values Network, a Jewish group he helps fund.

Adelson, a Jewish billionaire, Republican mega-giver and pro-Israel philanthropist, said he was ready to spend more than he had in any prior bid to elect a president, even in excess of $100 million, according to the report.

Trump late Saturday re-tweeted an excerpt of The Times story published by Breitbart News, a right-wing outlet that has favored the real estate magnate and reality TV star’s bid.

Spending by Adelson and his wife, Miriam, in the 2012 elections has been estimated at between $98 million and $150 million, but that includes money spent on congressional races. Adelson plans to focus almost exclusively on the presidential race in this election cycle, the report said.

Last week, Adelson declared his support for Trump in a Washington Post op-ed but did not say whether that would mean a cash infusion.

Trump, who has riven the Republican Party and alienated many donors, until now has been self-funded. But as he heads into a general election against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump has said he will seek outside funding.

Jewish Republicans have been particularly unsettled by his equivocating on what once were sine qua nons of Republican support for Israel, including tilting toward Israel in its dealings with Palestinians, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and pledging to maintain and increase defense assistance for Israel.

Trump at times has said he would remain neutral on Israel and the Palestinians. He refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital before walking back that position and has suggested Israel should pay for U.S. defense assistance.

UNESCO condemns Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest

The United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, condemned a state-sponsored Holocaust-themed cartoon contest taking place in Iran.

The Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest opened Saturday and was set to run through the end of May in Tehran. The top prize is $12,000.

“Such an initiative, which aims at a mockery of the genocide of the Jewish people, a tragic page of humanity’s history, can only foster hatred and incite to violence, racism and anger,” Irina Bokova, the director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said over the weekend. “This contest goes against the universal values of tolerance and respect, and runs counter to the action led by UNESCO to promote Holocaust education, to fight anti-Semitism and denial.”

Some 150 works from 50 countries are on display in the contest, which is organized by nongovernmental bodies in Iran with support from the government. Most of the works criticize Israel for using the Holocaust to distract the international community from its treatment of the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday also criticized the event.

“It is not just its policy of subversion and aggression in the region; it is the values on which it is based,” Netanyahu said of Iran. “It denies and belittles the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust. I think that every country in the world must stand up and fully condemn this.”

The Israeli leader added that he conveyed this message to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation on Saturday night. Kerry is traveling in Saudi Arabia.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who is traveling with Kerry, said in a briefing to reporters that the United States was concerned the contest could “be used as a platform for Holocaust denial and revisionism and egregiously anti-Semitic speech, as it has in the past,” the Associated Press reported.

“Such offensive speech should be condemned by the authorities and civil society leaders rather than encouraged. We denounce any Holocaust denial and trivialization as inflammatory and abhorrent. It is insulting to the memory of the millions of people who died in the Holocaust.”

Michigan public radio station refuses to air birthday greeting to Israel

A Jewish couple from Detroit is pressing a Michigan public radio station to broadcast a birthday greeting to Israel paid for by their sponsorship of the station.

Hannan and Lisa Lis made a donation to Michigan Radio, a statewide public radio group operated by the University of Michigan, that entitled them to sponsor a day’s broadcast and have a message read on the air six times.

The couple requested “Happy 68th Birthday Israel” to be broadcast on Israel Independence Day, which took place on May 12, Deadline Detroit first reported. Hannan Lis is an Israeli citizen, and one son is serving in the Israeli army. Lisa Lis is a daughter of Weight Watchers CEO Florine Marks.

The station first said it needed two months’ notice to broadcast a message  but then rejected the message outright, saying in a letter to the couple: “We have determined that this message would compromise the station’s commitment to impartiality and that it crosses over into advocacy, or could imply advocacy.”

The couple and the station exchanged several letters, including one in which the Lises asked if the station would broadcast a “Happy Birthday Norway” message. The station confirmed that it would not, according to Deadline Detroit.

According to the day sponsorship rules posted on Michigan Radio’s website: “Day sponsorships must be personal in nature. They may not include promotional, commercial or messages that Michigan Radio deems would negatively impact Michigan Radio’s reputation for impartiality. Language referencing political campaigns, candidacies, religious convictions or legislation will not be accepted.”

“There’s so much anti-Israel sentiments and rhetoric and lies out there, and I just wanted something positive about Israel to be announced on the radio,” Lisa Lis told AMI Newswire. “Many people just say ‘happy anniversary’ to their spouse. When they offered a day sponsorship to me, I genuinely and publicly wanted to wish Israel happy birthday from my husband and myself.

“We respect the university and the relationship and connections it has with Israel. The radio station, on the other hand, somehow feels wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Israel is adversarial to them. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Everybody we talk to is surprised and shocked. I don’t see how ‘Happy Birthday’ is political.”

The couple told AMI that they would continue to press their case but are “trying to affect some pressure without going ballistic,” according to Hannan Lis, due to their “high level of respect for NPR.”