Sheldon Adelson, is the jewish CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and one of the wealthiest men in the world. He is currently an important financial backer of a number of Republican candidates running for office. He also funds numerous neo-conservative “pro-Israel” groups in the United States. Adelson is a prominent supporter of key Likud Party officials in Israel. He has amassed his fortunes in the gambling industry, by building an uprecedented casino empire. Adelson is very important to the hawkish “Israel lobby”, the neo-conservative Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) awarded Adelson their “Theodor Herzl Gold Medallion” in December 2009. The award is given to people who make a “unique, lasting, and historic contribution to the cause of Zionism and the Jewish people.” Adelson’s philanthropy is directed though the Adelson Family Foundation, which he created in January 2007. Among its grantees has been the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, a project of the Shalem Center, a Likud Party-aligned group based in Jerusalem that claims on its website to engage “in research, education, and publications in areas that include Jewish moral and political thought, Zionist history and ideas, Biblical archaeology, democratic theory and practice, strategic studies, and economic and social policy. As a backer of neo-conservative thinktank, “Freedom’s Watch”, whose key leaders included former Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and the strip-mall magnate Melvin Sembler, Adelson brought widespread media attention to his efforts to push for hawkish, Israel-centric U.S. policies. Among Adelson’s more recent notable beneficiaries has been Newt Gingrich, a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. In 2015, Adelson is said to be financially backing Senator Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination for President.