Israeli-American TV magnate and democratic mega donor Haim Saban (Connie Bruck’s recent New Yorker profile here) is unhappy with the Obama administration Israeli policies. Usually restrained, in an interview for Israeli Channel Ten TV News broadcast Thursday (May 13 2010), Saban let his guard down for a moment:
Saban: I had the chance to talk to Hillary about a lot of things including this and I also talked to Rahm Emanual and Rahm Emanual for instance told me ‘I am more hawkish than 50 percent of the people in Israel.’ I don’t know where he got that survey but that is what he said. They are not anti-Israelis. Look, they are from the left. The left, left of which there is not much space to the wall, I agree, and this is their ideology.
Interview with Haim Saban
Channel Ten TV News, May 13 2010 20:00
Yaacov Eilon (host): The Israeli-American businessman Haim Saban is disappointed by President Obama. Until now he only hinted to that but in a conversation with our correspondent Gil Tamari he opened up a little. Gil, over to you in Los Angeles.
Gil Tamari: Billionaire Haim Saban is the biggest donor to the Democratic Party in the U.S. And even though he donates millions to them he has a lot of resentment towards the Obama administration. In a special interview with us in Los Angeles he calls the state of relations “a disaster.” He calls the Obama administration radical leftists and tells me of tough talks he’s had with Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel.
Tamari: Do you sleep well at night with the Obama administration’s policy?
Saban: First of all that is an understatement. Because I have been living here in the U.S. for nearly 25 years I have become a little American so I don’t say everything like I used to.
Tamari: In a special interview with us a few hours ago here in L.A., Saban, the biggest donor to the Democratic Party, minces no words.
Saban: The situation is a disaster [the word used was the Arabic Harta, which has a coarser connotation], if you want me to put it in simple words.
Tamari: He compares the relations with Obama to the difficult years Israel had with George Bush Sr.
Saban: We had the days with Bush Sr., with Shamir. We got over it and moved on and we had 16 great years with Clinton and then with Bush, and this too shall pass. Look, I don’t think Obama is anti-Israeli, like people think he is. His goal is to achieve peace, just like our goal is to achieve peace. The way he wants to do it may not be the way some people in Israel would like it, and especially the members of the right.
Tamari: Saban, who donated millions to the Clintons as well, is not at all happy with what he sees. Did you have a chance to talk about this with Hillary?
Saban: I had the chance to talk to Hillary about a lot of things including this and I also talked to Rahm Emanuel and Rahm Emanuel for instance told me ‘I am more hawkish than 50 percent of the people in Israel.’ I don’t know where he got that survey but that is what he said. They are not anti-Israelis. Look, they are from the left. The left, left of which there is not much space to the wall, I agree, and this is their ideology.
Tamari: At this ball tonight, organized by the Israeli leadership organization, an organization that turned the Israelis here from mere émigrés to a political force working for Israel, people sang and danced. But this big party was overshadowed by the state of relations between Israel and the administration. Gil Tamari, Ch. 10 News, LA.