Haim Saban is busy. Three weeks back in L.A., he held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. This report is from Variety:
Hillary Clinton capped a day of fundraising for her 2016 presidential bid at the Beverly Park home of longtime supporters Haim and Cheryl Saban, as she appeared before a crowd that included such industry figures as Casey Wasserman, Stevie Wonder, Peter Chernin and Clarence Avant.
Donors paid $2,700 per person at the event, the last of three fetes that were expected to bring in close to $3 million, according to fundraisers. Also attending, according to a guest who was there, were Lions Gate’s Rob Friedman, WME Entertainment’s Patrick Whitesell, talkshow host Larry King, Mike and Irena Medavoy, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Mary Steenburgen.
This coming weekend Saban should be in Las Vegas. Nathan Guttman reports in the Forward that “leading Jewish mega-donors” Saban and Sheldon Adelson, who backs Republican candidates for president, are teaming up on a closed-door conference on how to counter Israel’s delegitimization on campus. Guttman says the Vegas confab is at the instance of a few rich men who “decided to take action.”
According to several prospective participants, Jewish groups planning to attend the meeting include the Israel on Campus Coalition, Hillel, StandWithUs, the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America. The Israel Action Network, a communal body created specifically to counter BDS and delegitimization of Israel, will not attend, although it will be represented by one of its parent organizations, JFNA…
The purpose, an official with one of the groups invited said, was to “find the best strategies” for countering campus anti-Israel campaigns and to “make sure there is funding” for those programs.
Saban has a particular interest in the gathering, Guttman reports.
Saban has spoken to Israeli officials, including the former ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and top officials in the Israeli foreign ministry, about setting up a special task force to deal with increased calls on campuses to adopt measures of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, measures commonly referred to as BDS.
That’s not surprising, because today’s New York Times has an article about rightwing Israeli leaders “lashing out” against the international campaign against Israel, and quotes an Israeli official saying his “war” against activists began right after the last attack on Gaza last summer, which killed over 2100 Palestinian (and more than 70 Israelis).
Yuval Rotem, a high-ranking official in Israel’s foreign ministry responsible for countering international isolation, said in an interview that politicians rushed to increase the military budget after last summer’s war with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, “but my war started the day after the war in Gaza is over, and I didn’t get even one penny in addition.”
“I know what to do in the United Nations, I know what to do in Geneva — now I need to build a base of power to deal with a trade union in Ireland or a church in Panama,” Mr. Rotem said. “It’s a new spectrum of arenas, it’s a new spectrum of battlegrounds, that takes us to all those trade unions, to all those churches, to all those campuses and universities, and all those conferences of sciences, all museums and art exhibitions. Every element of Israeli activity is basically challenged.”
The Times article gives a lot of support to that Israeli undertaking. It quotes extremist smears without allowing BDS supporters to explain their aims. And that’s intriguing when you consider that Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban last teamed up last November when they held a conversation in Washington about Israel that included a discussion of whether they ought to buy the New York Times.
Saban marveled at how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased the Washington Post for a mere $250 million, which Saban called “bupkis,” and that he was sorry that he did not try to buy it himself. At that point Adelson pounced on Saban and challenged him on the spot to join with him to buy the New York Times from the Sulzberger family.
Saban expressed an openness to the idea, but was concerned that the Sulzberger family would not sell. Adelson dismissed that concern, “You pay significantly more than it’s worth, then the non-family shareholders have the right to bring a suit between the real value and what’s been offered.” Adelson suggested that he and Saban team up and make them an offer that cannot be refused; “There’s only one way to buy it, money…. but it’s not going to be one of those deals where I put up 10 times more than you” Adelson said.
Saban expressed an interest… and then the panel moved on to other subjects.
Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
By the way, Saban also held fundraisers for Obama the last time; and his recent guest Villaraigosa is the guy who had to bring down the hammer on the Democratic convention’s floor demonstration for Palestine 3 years ago, so as to railroad a platform plank saying Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Villaraigosa said Obama was “absolutely livid” over the platform’s failure to include that language.