Sheldon Adelson, the U.S. casino mogul who has called himself the world’s richest Jew, couldn’t vote in Israel’s parliamentary elections in January.
That didn’t stop his free daily newspaper, Yisrael Hayom, from publishing a front-page editorial last year arguing in favor of bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities -- an option voiced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Since its inception in 2007, Adelson’s Tel Aviv-based paper has supported Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party. The paper had the highest weekday readership in the country last year, according to a Target Group Index Israel survey.
“Yisrael Hayom has had a huge effect,” Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said by telephone. “It has to be one of the best investments anybody has ever made in terms of trying to have a political impact. It’s basically a pro-Likud paper.”
Adelson, the 79-year-old chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS), who has a net worth of $25.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is one of at least five American billionaires who have spent their money trying to shape Israel’s political landscape. Some of the moguls donate directly to candidates and non-profits; another funds the construction of settlements in contested Jerusalem neighborhoods.