Some in the Las Vegas Muslim community expressed trepidation Thursday over the recent purchase of Nevada’s largest newspaper by billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
The conservative Jewish casino mogul is a passionate supporter of Israel, and has used his vast fortune to support hard-right policies in that country. In the past he has made extreme comments toward Palestinians, such as saying their “existence” is to “destroy Israel,” according to a 2014 Times of Israel article.
Some Southern Nevada Muslim leaders said they don’t think Adelson will compromise the newspaper’s integrity; others say the newspaper’s journalists ultimately have the responsibility to maintain objectivity, regardless of the paper’s ownership.
But others said Adelson could use the paper to further his own interests.
“We hope he doesn’t have any hidden agendas in buying the Review-Journal,” said Khalid Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Nevada. “To me, he’s not an impartial person.”
On Wednesday, the Review-Journal reported that Aldeson’s son-in-law, Patrick Dumont, arranged the $140 million purchase. Dumont is married to Sivan Ochshorn Dumont, the daughter of Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, from a prior marriage.
Ochshorn Dumont runs the Israel Hayom, Adelson’s free daily newspaper.
In October 2012 National Public Radio explored the newspaper’s effect in Israel. The story quoted a left-wing activist as saying, “Israel Hayom has managed to change the political landscape of the press in Israel.”
The Listening Post, a current affairs program broadcast on Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera America in 2014, quoted Doron Galazer, a former editor of Ma’ariv, one of the oldest newspapers in Israel, offering his view of Adelson’s real motive behind the Isreali newspaper.
“It’s my estimate the paper loses about $10 million a year. But I don’t think it bothers Adelson. I’m sure he is prepared to invest many more years, and a lot more money to keep (prime minister) Benjamin Netanyahu in power,” Galazer said. “Anything to prevent a liberal, moderate, peace-loving policy towards the Arab world.”
The billionaire could use the Review-Journal to promote his international interests, Khan said.
“Conducting business in this kind of business, doesn’t match,” he said of Adelson buying the RJ.
Aslam Abdullah, director of the Masjid Ibrahim, the newest mosque in the Las Vegas valley, said he’s not too concerned — unless Adelson changes editors and editorial policies, which he doesn’t anticipate.
Ultimately, Abdullah said Thursday, it’s the responsibility of journalists to continue to report fair and accurate stories as long as the editorial side of the paper remains independent.
“If they are … true to their position, I don’t think it would affect the coverage and reporting,” he said of the new ownership. “I have full trust in editors and reporters to continue to be fair.”
Dr. Syed Rahman, co-founder of the Imagine Foundation, a Las Vegas charity that aids Syrian refugees, said it’s his hope that Adelson wouldn’t make major changes at the newspaper and its coverage.
“We think he would be fair because you have to maintain a newspaper’s integrity,” he said. “I hope he will.”
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