The body of Jewish-American billionaire Sheldon Adelson arrived in Israel on Thursday evening, ahead of the pro-Israel and GOP megadonor’s burial in Jerusalem.
The coffin, draped in US and Israeli flags, was displayed at Ben Gurion Airport, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adelson’s wife, Miriam, and other family members paid their respects.
“He will be remembered as a great Jewish patriot, this is a great loss for the Jewish people,” Netanyahu was quoted saying by the Israel Hayom daily, which Adelson controlled and operated with his wife, the paper’s publisher.
The funeral is scheduled for Friday on the Mount of Olives. The Las Vegas Review-Journal, a newspaper Adelson owned, reported Thursday that Adelson would be buried in the venerated and ancient cemetery overlooking Jerusalem’s Old City.
Jewish families have buried their dead on the Mount of Olives since time immemorial. An estimated 1,50,000 people are interred there. In 2012, the authorities who run the cemetery said there is barely any room left.
Adelson, who owned the Las Vegas Sands gambling empire, died from complications related to treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Sands and his wife announced on Tuesday.
Adelson, the son of Jewish immigrants, was a staunch supporter of Netanyahu and a driving force in pushing US President Donald Trump’s strong pro-Israel agenda, including the controversial move of the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
His attachment to Israel was lifelong and so deep that he once said he wished his military service had been in an Israeli uniform instead of an American one.
He had donated $25 million, a record sum for a private citizen, to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. He also established a think tank in Jerusalem.
In the US, Adelson helped underwrite congressional trips to Israel, helped build a new headquarters for the lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and later was a top supporter of the Israeli-American Council, whose conferences have attracted top Republicans (Vice President Mike Pence) and Democrats (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi).