Adelson and Ross: Yin Yang of US Politics

by James M. Wall

What unites Sheldon Adelson and Dennis Ross? And why did both show up at the same time in the weekend news in two different locations?

Here is how it came down: Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million to a Newt Gingrich PAC, a huge boost to Gingrich’s fading  presidential hopes.

Adelson is a strong Zionist supporter. He is described in the latest Forbes magazine issue as the eighth-richest person in America.

Dennis Ross, back on duty in a Washington pro-Israel think tank, wrote a Washington Post column with his usual solution for Middle East peace, that is, take whatever steps Israel will accept.

Still, there had to be something deeper in their connection on this particular weekend between the Iowa caucuses, which Mitt Romney “won” by 8 votes, according to media score keepers, and Tuesday’s upcoming New Hampshire primary, which home region guy Romney is expected to win by a large margin.

Finally, after hours of meditation, I remembered a phrase, yin yang. Normally, when I meditate, I reflect on the journals of John Wesley, the founder of my Methodist tribe of Protestants.

But this time I landed in new territory: Asian philosophy.

We have all heard the phrase, yin yang, but what does it mean, really?  And how does it relate to Adelson and Ross?

My knowledge of Asia philosophy is, shall we say, limited.  But there was Google, always ready with an answer.  So I asked Google what unites Adelson and Ross and why do they make me think of yin yang?

This is what Google told me:

Many natural dualities—e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high, cold and hot, water and fire, air and earth— are thought of as manifestations of yin and yang (respectively).

Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time.

The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in western cultures. (See symbol above).

That was it! Adelson and Ross, Ross and Adelson, money and politics, part of a dynamic system. The money comes from devoted followers with large bank accounts, casino magnates like Adelson, and Ross, who knows the politics of a cause and persuades politicians to follow his version of truth and wisdom.

Philip Weiss reported the Adelson $5 million story. He also points out how the main stream media heavyweights downplayed the Zionist connection which Weiss explains in detail:

A week or so after Newt Gingrich said that the Palestinians are an invented people, his Super PAC has received $5 million from Sheldon Adelson, whose central cause is Israel.

And lo, the Associated Press fails to mention Adelson’s cause in its coverage. The Washington Post broke the story but included just one sentence about Israel, buried in paragraph 8, and ungrammatically:

Adelson is a strong supporter of Israel and his views dovetail with Gingrich on Israel and the Palestinian conflicts.

Blackout artists at The New York Times write up the gift without a word about Adelson’s cause: Republican Jewish Coalition brags it gives ‘tens of millions’ every political cycle.

Dennis Ross appeared in the Washington Post  this weekend to “explain” the recent “resumption” of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Ross has once again left the government, but he is available for Israeli-friendly columns, looking very much like a football coach high in the press box sending messages down to the quarterback on what plays to run next.

His latest column sounded like his usual game plan:

But there should also be no illusions about the prospects of a breakthrough any time soon. The psychological gaps between the parties make it hard to resolve their differences and have bedeviled all the work for peace talks over the past few years.

I have been intimately involved in peacemaking efforts over the past 20 years under Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Obama, and I know that Abbas and Netanyahu carry the weight of their peoples’ history and mythology, and face enormous political constraints. But those difficulties cannot be a reason to despair and accept a stalemate, particularly when those who reject peace will exploit any impasse to challenge the very idea of a two-state outcome.

A few days before Dennis Ross was in print with his Post column,  Palestinian-Jordanian editor Rami Khouri summed up the veteran diplomat’s views in a column he published in the Jordan Times.

The good news about the Jordanian-hosted Palestinian-Israeli-Quartet meeting in Amman to explore possibilities for resuming Palestinian-Israeli direct negotiations is that former US Mideast specialist Dennis Ross is not there to guarantee failure with the pro-Israel tilt of the US delegation.

The bad news is that the meeting is likely to fail because the Ross approach to guaranteeing diplomatic failure with the pro-Israel tilt of the US delegation still prevails.

The Ross approach to Arab-Israeli diplomacy has essentially rested on the premise that everybody must make Israel comfortable and design negotiations on the basis of Israeli security concerns in order for any progress to be made. This is precisely why no measurable progress has ever been made when Ross spearheaded or influenced American diplomacy on this issue.

Rami Khouri, who also holds US citizenship, divides his time between Beruit, Amman and Nazareth. He remains a close observer of American politics. He is also a superb reporter and a precise and stylish writer.

Note his summary of why US presidential politics remain mired in absolute devotion to Zionism:

The noble mission of achieving justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians, and other concerned Arabs, remains hostage to the American political imperative of pleasing Israel first. (A derivative of this is the Ross approach to diplomacy with Iran, which, equally Israeli-centric, has also been a consistent failure.)

Ross — now back at his former base at the pro-Israel group the Washington Institute for Near East Policy — was always an operational symptom and symbol of this reality, rather than its driving force.

The deep official American tilt in favor of Israel is profoundly structural and political, and not the work of a few individuals. It has been building up for half a century, and now relies primarily on near stranglehold control of American members of Congress by pro-Israeli fanatics.

The yin yang of Zionist American politics has led to such an all-encompassing interaction  “within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system”, that even much of the leadership of the American churches, presumably the guardians of the nation’s “moral imagination”, do not realize how totally they have been co-opted to promote Zionism rather than support social justice.

We will witness this soon when the United Methodist Church holds its international General Conference in Tampa, Florida, April 25-May 4. Close to 1000 delegates will gather in Tampa to set church policy, discuss budgets and consider resolutions on issues facing the denomination.

This denomination, whose founder, John Wesley, was outspoken against slavery in the 1700s, has a long tradition of supporting what we refer to today as social justice issues.  Wesley would have seen them as demands of the Gospel.

One resolution which will be brought to the Tampa General Conference will call for the delegates to pass a resolution that says, in part:

In light of our theological discernment of moral and biblical justice, the General Conference calls on The United Methodist Church to end its financial involvement in Israel’s occupation by divesting from companies that sustain the occupation.

On a matter that has been before previous General Conferences, the resolution adds specifics:

The General Conference instructs all United Methodist general boards and agencies to divest promptly from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard until they end their involvement in the Israeli occupation.  These companies have been engaged repeatedly by the United Methodist general agencies, boards and annual conferences on this issue.

Yin yang does not speak of a division between good and evil.  Rather it is a philosophy that presents yin yang not as “opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system.”

The United Methodist General Conference that meets in Tampa, Florida, April 25-May 4 is both a political and a spiritual gathering.  It is the yin yang of a denomination at work.  Delegates will discuss and then vote on resolutions.

If delegates meditate on John Wesley’s journals and sermons, they should have no difficulty in making a decision to withdraw invested funds from companies that support Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Finally, politics in the long running television program, West Wing, were, at times, complicated, sort of the way yin yang works out in  real life.  This clip is from Season 3, Episode 10.

For those not familiar with the program, US President Jed Bartlett is a (fictional) liberal Democrat.  His aide, Charlie Young, gives him a gift of a map of the Holy Land from 1709.  The President wants to frame the map and hang it outside his office.  He runs into opposition.

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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12 Responses to Adelson and Ross: Yin Yang of US Politics

  1. Jo Prostko says:

    Sometimes it all just makes you want to scream, doesn’t it?

  2. Bill Gepford says:

    I have been an observer of our government’s Middle East policy for over fifty years. It is clear that our adamant support of Israel continues to sacrifice all the basic values of this counrty, freedom, democracy, justice, fairness and diversity. I attended an adult Bible class this morning studying I Kings, which passages mention the existance of Philistines (Palestinians in contemporary language). It has also been clear that if some one wants to be elected to public office, they have little choice but to be pro-Israel, if not completely Zionist. I am Presbyterian and our denomination has been and is still going through the political slough of the Palestinian/Israeli impasse. Thnk you, Jim, for your your moral courage in calling a a spade a spade.

  3. Charlton Price says:

    Did this episode generate any comment at the time?

  4. Robert M. Schaible says:

    The most frustrating thing about Ross’s public writings is that on the surface they sound so reasonable, so “balanced,” that readers who do not know the long-running realities of Israeli Zionist obsession and diplomatic subterfuge can easily be led to believe that he’s truly the wise man on the conflict and that the two sides are equally at fault. He’s the smooth-talking salesman, the confidence man doing the oily version of Sharon, Netanyahu, and Avignor Lieberman. And, like these others, he really is not, in the long run, a true friend of Jews or the state of Israel. If only they could get leaders who were both truly wise and deeply dedicated to the moral depths of Judaism.

  5. Raised a Methodist, but no londer disillusioned that religions do “good” as examplified by wars, illegal occupations, poverty, extreme wealth, lack of affordable health care, affordable housing, abuse, torture, destruction of the environment, greed, etc. What has happened to the Palestinians is tragic just as all seizure and illegal occupations. The support of Israel is wrong., It tarnishes any possiblity of good by the U.S. in its domestic and foreign policies. Matthew 23, Jesus explains how we kill the prophets and stone the messengers God has sent, MLK, Gandhi, come to mind. But there are many false prophets on TV, raking in the money while destroying the Holy Land with their support of Israel’s human rights violations…Hypocrits!

  6. Frederick says:

    Interesting article Jim, the yin and the yang working together (money and political power) for the apartheid state of Israel. It is a duo that has stifled debate, thwarted justice, and made the rest of us negligible. They are also blind if they think that aparthedi israel is good for Judaism or the Jewsish people. It is not, and only the morally blind can’t see that.

    Newt Gingrich was handsomely rewarded, for the false and cruel statement that the Palestinians don’t exist. That statement was worth five million (while others go hungry in this country).

    Israel wants us to attack Iran now. Only Israel can possess nuclear weapons in the region of course. Our Israeli Firsters in Congress are pushing hard a war with Iran. If the war kills thousands, cost billions, and makes the 99% pay very high oil and gas prices, who cares? If Israel wants the US to go to war, the AIPAC Israeli Firsters will see that it happens. John Wesley, we need you. We need some social justice Christians to stand up to the “Christian Zionists” and the Jewish Zionists, who both seem to forgotten completely that justice needs to be part of religion, or it is hollow.

  7. David Lull says:

    Jim, thanks for your plain-spoken comments! Politicians are masters at the artful dodge, by simplifying complicated issues or hiding behind “but it is complicated” when it is convenient or expedient to take political cover. As a United Methodist, I hope the 2012 General Conference will just say no to subsidizing Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, an occupation that U. N. resolutions and Geneva Conventions clearly declare are illegal.

  8. B. Bailey says:

    Thank you for this refreshingly truthful and informative post. I have long been troubled by our Israel policy and the villifying and subjugation of Palestinians, and the blood on our hands, due to our own government’s policy on supporting Israel unquestioningly, and the violent rhetoric directed at anyone who doesn’t go along with the status quo support of zionism by billionaires controlling everything.

    I was born Jewish, raised Methodist, and presently am not affiliated with any church or religion, but still learned right from wrong. Our foreign policy and zionist support is morally wrong, and our actions in supporting the oppression of any people is reprehensible. It’s refreshing to know that you, and others, see the Whole Big Picture. I read an article by you on OpEd News (about Adelson’s 5 $mil contribution to Gingrich) and then went on to read this article – and am happy to find your site.

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