I’m still catching up to Hillary Clinton and Shimon Peres’s appearance at Brookings the other day. “Shimon,” as Clinton repeatedly called the Israeli president.
The event was notable because Saban surfaced: Haim Saban, the ardent Zionist who funds the Saban Center on Middle East Policy at Brookings– the man who paid for that Israeli flag you can see behind him as he speaks in the video. He comes out at 1:10 or so and after a joke about them wanting more money from him, it’s on to “Hillary my dear friend” and a Hebrew endearment to Shimon Peres. Then Saban said he started the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings after calling “Martin [Indyk] cold” 12 years ago to ask him for his advice.
“What could I do to kind of help things along in the Middle East? They’re taking too long to get there…. [Indyk then had dinner with Saban and Saban's wife Cheryl] I had no idea what I was looking for, and he said, why don’t you set up a center for Middle East studies at Brookings. To which I said, I think it’s a great idea, what is Brookings.”
Indyk is a former AIPAC official who had a big job under Clinton and has always supported the peace process, but as a supporter of Israel. The Saban Center was not his first pro-Israel thinktank. He also helped start a second important thinktank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as a spinoff of AIPAC in 1985. He knows how to direct money, alright.
Saban said Brookings has had “real world impact.” What does he have to show for the last 12 years besides cement overshoes for the peace process? Oh and Indyk is director of Foreign Policy at Brookings.
This picture was tweeted by Brookings, and the gang’s all here: Saban, Peres, Clinton, Martin Indyk, and Strobe Talbott of Brookings. (Thanks to Max Blumenthal)