Then on Saturday, Saban benchpressed 400 Congressmen

Haim Saban had a busy week.

Thursday, December 9. He hosts a fundraiser in Century City, Ca, for the Israel Defense Forces and, along with former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander and Andrea Bocelli, raises $9 million:


“At the conclusion of Hanukkah, we remember how the Maccabees triumphed in the face of odds,” Haim Saban] said while addressing the crowd. “Let’s not forget that the Jewish people overcame the Syrian-Greeks, the Roman empire, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian pogroms, the Holocaust. We are a resilient people, a strong people, a successful people.” And with a defiant voice, as if he were speaking directly to Israel’s enemies, he said: “We are here to stay and stay forever.”

…he kicked off a kind of bidding war that brought the fundraiser’s total from an initial $2.5 million to $8,750,000.

“On the way in, [wife] Cheryl said to me, ‘I think we should match what we raise tonight,’” Saban told 1,000 dinner guests from the podium. “I said, ‘You’re the boss.’”

The “unprecedented sum” of $2.5 million—which, until that moment had been the highest amount raised during the Sabans’ tenure as chairs—became $5 million.

Friday, December 10. The next day. Haim Saban must have a private plane; he’s at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution in Washington. So is Hillary Clinton:

” [...] I appreciate the friendship that you and Cheryl have given to me and to my family. You’ve been friends for many years. And certainly, as anyone who knows Haim understands, as an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, he is unparalleled, but also as a champion for peace. He represents in many ways in the best qualities of both Israel and America. He’s generous, he’s irrepressible, and absolutely unstoppable. And he has dedicated his energy and support to so many important causes and helped so many people. But he has probably no deeper passion than the one we are here discussing tonight – strengthening U.S.-Israeli relations and securing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. [...]“

Thanks to Jeff Blankfort.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , ,

{ 40 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Colin Murray says:

    I wonder if Congress will knock 9 million dollars off our annual welfare check to Israel?

  2. annie says:

    jesus fucking christ

    go ahead and delete this phil, i just had to say it.

  3. RE: “…as anyone who knows Haim understands…he is unparalleled…as a champion for peace.” – Hillary Clinton
    MY COMMENT: That should surely make “Guinness World Records” for the farthest a person has ever managed to get their head up their a_s!
    RE: “He represents in many ways in the best qualities of both Israel and America.” – Hillary Clinton
    MY SNARK: So, apparently Ms. Clinton does not believe Haim Saban represents the best qualities of his native Egypt!

  4. Antidote says:

    “We are here to stay and here forever”

    I hate it when people say that, no matter to what nation they refer. It’s strictly delusional, and always spells trouble for their own and other people.

    So a bunch of Americans casually raise 9 million at an evening fundraiser, for a foreign army. The wife has an idea in the car. What can you do? Make the wife happy, make the IDF happy. The IDF and US army are peas in a pod anyway, so what’s the difference? Wonder what idea she came up with during the private plane trip to close friend Clinton’s speech about the future of Israel: “I really think Israel should become part of the US. A Middle Eastern Hawaii with beaches and mostly Jews. Then the next President could be an Israeli.”

  5. Muscle, Baby, muscle. -N49.

  6. lobewyper says:

    “…he benchpressed 400 Congressmen?” Phil, you are now the leading contender for the 2010 Norman Finkelstein “Funniest Title for a Middle Eastern Posting” award!

  7. yourstruly says:

    What, millions of dollars raised for a foreign army that not only commits crimes in violation of international law, but because of these crimes endangers our troops in Afghanistan as well as our national security?* Doubtlessly the FBI is investigating those at this Century City fundraiser who contributed to the terrorist IDF? If not, why not? Oh, I forgot, the Zionist Congresspersons who sponsored the law by which the FBI is prosecuting peace activists don’t consider the IDF a terrorist organization (nor do they consider the Zionist Israel a pariah state). Which raises the question as to why the FBI isn’t investigating the congressional enablers of a foreign power whose actions are the reason they** hate us.

    *as per recent statements by General David Petreaus and Vice President Joe Biden, among others.

    **they being the Arab/Islamic world (not its puppet governments)

  8. hughsansom says:

    Well, probably more than any other, he can claim credit for the right-ward slouch of the Brookings Institution (though that would have happened without him).

    The funny thing, it’s not as if he feels any need to dress up language for the Clintons. Here is the Brookings propaganda announcement of a meeting at the “Saban Center” – link to brookings.edu …. Note ‘journalists’ Ted Koppel and Tom Friedman among those making their obedience.

    Easy to google for pics of Hillary and Bill making nice-nice with Avigdor Lieberman, Haim Saban and a slew of other virulently racist anti-Arab war-mongerers.

    Imagine the hysteria if any

    • It is not likely that Brookings would have shifted to the right without him. It simply could not resist the $12.3 million that Saban put up to start the Saban Center on the Middle East, thus wresting that region from the baliwick of those who had not like every other major East Coast “think tank” pledged their loyalty to Israel.

      Significantly $12.3 million was the amount Saban gave to the Democrats in 2002, $7 million of which went to construct its new Washington headquarters and the same amount with which he purchased controlling interest in Univision, the major Spanish-language TV network.

      For Saban, everything seems to be as easy as 1,2,3.

  9. Citizen says:

    This is related: an interview with Phil Donahue pin-pointing a key change in America is that five corporations control the news and now it’s presented to manipulate the masses–Phil invented TV audience participation in controversial issues–he was booted off the air (despite his high ranking) in the set-up for attacking Iraq in the later stages of 2002, when our corporate news unanimously beat the war drums:
    link to videocafe.crooksandliars.com
    In short, we no longer have a “Fourth Estate.”

  10. Potsherd2 says:

    I suppose that 9 million is tax-deductible. So much for the deficit.

  11. MRW says:

    Saban does not pay one red sous in US taxes. His businesses are registered in the Cayman Islands, and any appearance of tax he pays are the tax-deductible amounts he gives to Israel. He probably gets money back from the government for that beneficence.

    Sweet cock-up.

  12. Taxi says:

    We need rich infiltrators at these events.

    Could get very interesting if a whole table of guests suddenly put black tape over their mouths instead of smoked salmon.

  13. Gellian says:

    Jason Alexander? You mean George Costanza? Oh my god, you have got to be kidding.

    I would *love* to see that guy in an IDF uniform. You wouldn’t even have to script the jokes.

    This has got to be the weirdest case of displacement I’ve read about in a looong time.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Hillary sold out to the I lobby long ago. Along with her vote for the Iraq war resolution and her inflammatory and unnecessary Iran statements. Just could never support her. She really needs to understand that people are watching closely

  15. Kathleen says:

    Hillary ” But he has probably no deeper passion than the one we are here discussing tonight – strengthening U.S.-Israeli relations and securing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East”

    Duh you can sure say that again

    More on that “Suspected Israeli Agent”
    Josh Marshall | April 20, 2009, 9:47AMLet me follow up on my earlier post which asked just who that “suspected Israeli agent” was who Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) was talking to. Some quick TPM staff research shows that the original Time article on this story from 2006 identified Harman’s interlocutor as Haim Saban.

    (See my correction at the bottom of this post. It’s less clear than I originally thought that we know Saban was the person on the other end of the phone call. Time notes that Saban did lobby Pelosi on Harman’s behalf and seems to suggest this as a possible part of the quid pro quo. But a closer look leaves the identity of Harman’s interlocutor an open question.)

    Saban is a major entertainment industry mogul, who’s a big contributor to the Democratic party and a major supporter of Israel. If you’re interested in some fun trivia, I think a big chunk of his fortune comes from creating the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. In any case, Saban was born in Alexandria, Egypt, was I believe raised in Israel and then became a naturalized US citizen.

    The key here is that the premise of the investigation into AIPAC was precisely whether people around AIPAC were not just big boosters of Israel but in some sense acting as agents of a foreign power — obviously, an extremely explosive question. So the intel sources appear to be referring to him as a “suspected Israeli agent.”

    There are obviously a lot of facts we don’t know here. But if Saban is the interlocutor, it seems to me that any legal case against Harman would likely be very shaky since the claim that Saban was an agent of a foreign power would quite likely be legally unsustainable.

    Late Update: Ron Kampeas has more on this at the JTA blog

    • RoHa says:

      “I think a big chunk of his fortune comes from creating the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”

      Saban didn’t create them. They were created in Japan. He just produced an Americanized version.

  16. Kathleen says:

    Why the Harman leaks smell to high heaven-UPDATE 2
    By Ron Kampeas · April 20, 2009

    I just posted a brief picking up this CQ Politics story by Jeff Stein, re-raising allegations that U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) attempted to intervene on behalf of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, the two former AIPAC staffers charged with leaking U.S. secrets to Israeli diplomats, media and their colleagues.

    There are a lot of problems with how this story came about. Its sources seem to have it in for Harman, yet their supposedly damning leaks are rehash – and the story’s major news is not about her alleged misdeeds, but that the National Security Agency was listening in on her call, and that the CIA boss wanted to get a tap on her.

    Also, the timing, weeks before the trial, is suspect, and looks a lot like a desperate late in the game bid to salvage what has become a dog of a case.

    But let’s get the details out of the way by simply reposting the brief:

    WASHINGTON (JTA) — A former CIA director asked for a wiretap on a Jewish congresswoman after she allegedly agreed to intervene on behalf of two indicted former AIPAC staffers.

    CQ Politics, a division of Congressional Quarterly, reported Sunday that then-CIA chief Porter Goss agreed to request a wiretap on U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) after she agreed to “waddle into” the classified information leaks case against Steve Rosen, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s former foreign policy chief, and Keith Weissman, its former Iran analyst.

    Harman allegedly was speaking with an “Israeli agent;” the alleged quid pro quo was that the agent would lobby on Harman’s behalf in her quest to become chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

    According to the CQ story, Alberto Gonzales, the then- U.S. attorney general, shut down the case because Harman was useful in lobbying on behalf of the administration’s quest for expanded eavesdropping powers.

    The events allegedly took place in the summer or fall of 2005. CQ quoted Harman as denying the allegations.

    Similar reports surfaced in October 2006, just prior to the midterm elections.Those reports named Haim Saban, the Israeli-American entertainment magnate who is a major donor to the Democratic Party and to AIPAC, as one of several Jewish donors to Harman who allegedly discussed the matter with Harman and with Pelosi.

    The CQ report, which cites former national security officials, includes direct quotes from the transcript of Harman’s alleged conversation with the Israeli agent.

    Okay, now why this smells.

    * The selected quotes from the alleged transcript do not necessarily add up to a quid pro quo:

    Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

    In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

    Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

    (snip)

    The alleged Israeli agent asked Harman if she could use any influence she had with Gonzales, who became attorney general in 2005, to get the charges against the AIPAC officials reduced to lesser felonies.

    (snip)

    Harman responded that Gonzales would be a difficult task, because he “just follows White House orders,” but that she might be able to influence lesser officials, according to an official who read the transcript.

    So, an interlocutor – and, if it was Saban, a major donor – asks Harman to see what she can do to intervene on behalf of Rosen and Weissman. She says she doesn’t think she can do much, but she’ll do what she can. So far, congressional business as usual – not pretty, but not illegal. What happens then is not clear: According to the narrative peddled by the former national security officials, it had been agreed that this would be in exchange for the Israeli agent lobbying Pelosi. She hangs up abruptly saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist,” “seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to.” But had she agreed to a deal? What if her interlocutor suggested a quid pro quo after she agreed to look into the case? Harman realizes the “agent” is crossing over into illegal territory and hangs up, and says something — “This conversation doesn’t exist” – that could just as easily be understood as “all bets are off m—–f——, and don’t call back.”

  17. Kathleen says:

    This is interesting. Wonder what kind of taxes Haim Saban does pay? Or does he donate to Israeli organizations, Aipac, and the building of illegal settlements as a tax write off?

    Haim Saban Sued for Millions
    By imprisoned, impassioned tax lawyer

    Most Americans pay their income taxes as fair consideration for the privileges citizenship confers. Defendant Haim Saban is not one of them. Despite being one of the richest men in the world, Haim Saban, believing he is above the law, has spent decades trying to avoid paying taxes on the many billions of dollars in income he has received.

    The moves on to:

    Just as Saban hates paying taxes (while using his political donations to demand special treatment and personal favors), Saban likes to steal even more…. Defendants’ attorneys also bragged about special influence over and collusion with prosecuting attorneys for the Western District of Washington in facilitating the prosecutorial charging, arrest and bail decisions of the federal prosecutors concerning criminal charges brought against Krane, all in the hope of depriving Plaintiffs of the fee deservedly earned for Krane’s instrumental role in putting together the Plan.

    This theft of another person’s labor conforms to a lifelong pattern of Saban’s. Plaintiffs are informed and believe and based thereon allege that Saban has made hundreds of millions of dollars stealing from recording artists, illicitly claiming authorship of songs to which he likely can’t even read the music, and built his multi-billion dollar fortune through forgery, perjury and fraud. Now, to protect himself and hide his secrets, including secrets that implicate major foreign policy in this country and prominent foreign public officials, Saban seeks to scapegoat Krane.

    Through a spokesperson, Saban—who claimed Krane duped him, and wound up paying $250 million in back taxes after a 2006 Senate investigation—dismissed the claims as “frivolous,” and “a transparent attempt to distract from Mr. Saban’s right to recover the money stolen from him by Mr. Krane.” Probably so. But still fun!

    • MRW says:

      Thanks for the tax correction on Saban, Kathleen (above). I forgot that my info didn’t extend beyond the trial three or four years ago when Saban was investigated. The information about his Cayman tax jurisdiction came out then. Shoulda’ googled.

  18. Kathleen says:

    How the flying fuck are all of these donations to a foreign government set up to be tax exempt all ready?

    These donations are tax exempt. Stuart Levey should be investigating

  19. Kathleen says:

    HaYovel is one of many groups in the United States using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanence in the Israeli-occupied territories — effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.

    The result is a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.

    A New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade. The money goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law. But it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.

    In some ways, American tax law is more lenient than Israel’s. The outposts receiving tax-deductible donations — distinct from established settlements financed by Israel’s government — are illegal under Israeli law. And a decade ago, Israel ended tax breaks for contributions to groups devoted exclusively to settlement-building in the West Bank.

    Now controversy over the settlements is sharpening, and the issue is sure to be high on the agenda when President Obama and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, meet in Washington on Tuesday.

    While a succession of American administrations have opposed the settlements here, Mr. Obama has particularly focused on them as obstacles to peace. A two-state solution in the Middle East, he says, is vital to defusing Muslim anger at the West. Under American pressure, Mr. Netanyahu has temporarily frozen new construction to get peace talks going. The freeze and negotiations, in turn, have injected new urgency into the settlers’ cause — and into fund-raising for it.

    The use of charities to promote a foreign policy goal is neither new nor unique — Americans also take tax breaks in giving to pro-Palestinian groups. But the donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements. Tax breaks for the donations remain largely unchallenged, and unexamined by the American government. The Internal Revenue Service declined to discuss donations for West Bank settlements. State Department officials would comment only generally, and on condition of anonymity.

    “It’s a problem,” a senior State Department official said, adding, “It’s unhelpful to the efforts that we’re trying to make.”

    Daniel C. Kurtzer, the United States ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005, called the issue politically delicate. “It drove us crazy,” he said. But “it was a thing you didn’t talk about in polite company.”

    He added that while the private donations could not sustain the settler enterprise on their own, “a couple of hundred million dollars makes a huge difference,” and if carefully focused, “creates a new reality on the ground.”

    Most contributions go to large, established settlements close to the boundary with Israel that would very likely be annexed in any peace deal, in exchange for land elsewhere. So those donations produce less concern than money for struggling outposts and isolated settlements inhabited by militant settlers. Even small donations add to their permanence.

    For example, when Israeli authorities suspended plans for permanent homes in Maskiot, a tiny settlement near Jordan, in 2007, two American nonprofits — the One Israel Fund and Christian Friends of Israeli Communities —raised tens of thousands of dollars to help erect temporary structures, keeping the community going until officials lifted the building ban.

  20. Les says:

    Does Saban fund the IDF soldiers recruited in the US?

    What do US veterans’ organizations think of the US based fund raising and recruiting of soldiers for foreign forces?

    • Kathleen says:

      We should be contacting our Reps about all of this. Let them know. Contact the White House too.

      • I submitted the following comment to the LA Jewish Journal which carried the story but it did not make the cut:

        “What is obscene is that there appears to be no concern by the Friends of the IDF for the tens of thousands of American soldiers who have come back physically and mentally ravaged from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan whereas what has their beloved Israeli military been doing but occupying the West Bank and bombing Gaza and Lebanon in wars that lasted a matter of weeks.”

        This is a story that pro-Palestinian activists should give the widest circulation through letters to editors, calling in on talk shows, complaining to your local member of Congress, and informing local veterans organizations. Again, the link: link to jewishjournal.com

        • Kathleen says:

          “What is obscene is that there appears to be no concern by the Friends of the IDF for the tens of thousands of American soldiers who have come back physically and mentally ravaged from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan whereas what has their beloved Israeli military been doing but occupying the West Bank and bombing Gaza and Lebanon in wars that lasted a matter of weeks.”

          Nope they do not give a rats ass. Haim Saban, Ros Lehtinen, Jane Harman, etc do not give a rats ass.

  21. eee says:

    So much cussing, so little effective counteraction.
    What is the problem? Saban is only one person. You claim you have the support of millions of Americans. Well, raise money from them. You could easily raise more than Saban can.

    And seriously, can someone explain why you can’t find someone like Saban to support your cause? Why are all the rich people supporters of Israel? Are all anti-Zionist or non-Zionist Jews or gentiles poor?

  22. robin says:

    Speaking of Haim Saban’s busy schedule, did anyone catch him on Larry King last night following Salam Fayyad and Ehud Barak? His “debate partner” was a man I’d never heard of, but who might be best described as “Haim Saban’s Palestinian BFF”. There were so many warm feelings and so many pats on the back that I almost forgot about ongoing apartheid, siege, and ethnic cleansing.

    What a disgusting charade.

    What a monumental insult to treat such quislings as “representatives” of the Palestinian people.