Haim Saban is a Zionist Jew born in Alexandria, Egypt, and who moved to Israel with his family at age 12. Saban became a promoter and performer in what became a popular Israeli Beatles tribute band, the Lions of Judah, before moving to Paris and then Los Angeles where he was active with a licensing scheme that provided animation studios and television stations with free music for kids cartoons, with Saban Entertainment receiving a royalty whenever the cartoon was rebroadcast.
In 1989, after acquiring a substantial library of kids video programming, he sold a 25% stake to Luxembourg-based media conglomerate RTL for US$15 million. In 1993 he sold rights to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cartoon series (acquired cheaply from Japan) to News Corporation's emerging Fox Kids Network, retaining an estimated 12% of lucrative royalties on Rangers merchandise.
In 1995 Saban Entertainment formed a joint venture with Fox Kids Television, repurchasing the RTL stake for US$40 million. (Bankers Allen & Co. took 1% of the equity, News took 49.5% of the new entity.) Two years later Saban and Fox bought the Family Channel from controversial televangelist and presidential wannabe Pat Robertson for US$1.9 billion. In 2001 Saban prompted sale of Fox Family Worldwide to Disney for an estimated US$5.3bn (inc debt).
In the Jewish paper "Forward" homepage´s "List for Barak's Banquet" (www.forward.com...) Haim Saban is - along with Zionist figures Efraim Halevi (head of the Mossad) and Ilan Biran (director general, Israeli Ministry of Defense) - listed as one of the powerful guests at a dinner in the White House for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999. According to the same issue of the "Forward" Haim Saban is a "chairman and CEO, Saban Entertainment; an L.A.-based businessman who helped raise money for Mr. Barak's campaign".
From Tel Aviv University (TAU) official Homepage:
Brief monthly review of events
Feb. 1, 2002
Former US President William J. Clinton was awarded an honorary doctorate at a gala dinner in Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave an address following the academic procession and TAU President Itamar Rabinovich delivered opening remarks. The Saban Institute for the Study of the American Political System, operating within the TAU School of Government and Policy, was inaugurated at the gala. Remarks were delivered by donor Haim Saban. Doctor (hon.) Clinton delivered the inaugural address, calling upon Arafat to end terrorism and upon Israel to never give up the dream of peace. Among the guests were Minister of Foreign Affairs Shimon Peres; Minister of Defense Binyamin Ben-Eliezer; Minister of Finance Silvan Shalom; other ministers and top officials; and US Ambassador Dan Kurtzer. The dinner proceeds were dedicated to the TAU Clinton Program for American Studies at the Entin Faculty of Humanities. TAU Board Member Alfred Akirov chaired the organizing committee.
American contributions to Israeli political campaigns are raising concerns
American donors have poured $10 million to $15 million into each of the last two Israeli elections through campaign contributions or through nonprofit organizations that directly or indirectly support a candidate or political party.
The estimate, attributed to unnamed "political scientists," is cited in a front page article in the Feb. 25 Los Angeles Times, headlined "U.S. Soil Proves Fertile for Israel Political Campaigns."
As its primary case in point, the Times reported on a private reception, given by television mogul Haim Saban at his Beverly Hills home last March 25. Guest of honor was Ehud Barak, then running for prime minister as head of the Labor Party and One Israel coalition.
At the reception, first reported by The Jewish Journal last April, some 30 guests contributed $10,000 each. Saban promised in the invitation that he would match all donations dollar for dollar, bringing the estimated take for the evening to $600,000.
Barak gave a wide-ranging talk on Middle East developments but did not directly solicit funds, according to participants.
"It was a pretty typical campaign speech, but there was no price tag on it," the Times quoted one guest. "He asked for vague support. It was clear that he was running for office."
Invited guests were instructed to make out their checks to the Shefa Fund, described by the Times as a Philadelphia-based nonprofit tax-exempt foundation, which tends to support liberal and pro-peace causes, primarily in Israel.
Last year, the Shefa Fund was one of the main backers of KesherUSA, self-described as a "nonpartisan get-out-the-vote" project to fly Israelis living in the United States and Europe back to Israel to vote in the May elections.
Contributions to Kesher, besides Shefa, came mainly from individuals sympathetic to the Labor and Centrist parties, Kesher spokesman Udi Behr told The Jewish Journal last year.
It was generally understood that Kesher would subsidize the fares of liberal-oriented Israelis abroad, to counteract the even more intensive and well-financed efforts by Chai L'Ysrael to fly in voters favorable to the Likud and religious parties.
In themselves, the contributions to Shefa and the fly-back project were apparently not illegal, but they benefited Barak's party.
Saban, described in a recent article as a billionaire and "the biggest Israeli player in Hollywood," did not respond to requests for an interview.
However, the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot recently quoted Saban as saying that he didn't know where the donations from his fundraiser went, because they were processed by his comptrollers and lawyers.
The Times article, developed by its correspondent in Israel and two reporters in Los Angeles, stated that a Barak spokesman in Jerusalem declined to comment on the Saban reception, adding only that the prime minister stood by his earlier statement that he was not involved in raising money.
Israeli elections are heavily subsidized by the country's taxpayers and private campaign contributions are governed by tight restrictions. The laws ban any donations from foreigners, as well as from any "commercial entity." Israeli citizens can make a maximum contribution of $400 in a single year to a single party.
But as in the United States, such legal restrictions are more often honored in the breach than in the observance.
Menachem Hofnung, a Hebrew University political scientist, who helped write Israel's campaign finance law, told the Times that instances such as the Saban reception are borderline -- and typical.
"To ask for contributions that do not go right away to the campaign but help the campaign is against the spirit of the law," Hofnung said. "Not only did Barak do it, but so did all the major candidates for prime minister."
A recent report by Israel's state comptroller cracked down hard on numerous campaign finance violations by Israel's major parties and fined Barak's One Israel coalition $3.2 million.
Contributions by American citizens to Israeli political campaigns, besides skirting Israeli and possibly U.S. laws, raise even more fundamental concerns.
"The possibilities for abuse are almost unlimited," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "What is at stake is the sovereignty of the Israeli voting public."
David Clayman, the American Jewish Congress' director in Israel, observed that "I can think of nothing more corrosive to Israeli democracy than the buying of votes" by non-Israelis.
California Governor Gray Davis received $100,000 boost from Hollywood Mogul Haim Saban and appointed him as a regent in the University of California System. Saban donated a record-breaking $7 million to the democratic national committee in 2002 just before rules came into effect regulating soft money donations. Saban's donations to Clinton's elections were significant. Clinton appointed him to the US Export Council and Saban and his family came at least once as guests of Clinton at Camp David. Saban donated generously to the Gore/Lieberman campaign and recently gave $5 million to the Clinton Library Foundation .
Here are more facts about Saban: he is founder and half-owner of 'Fox Family Worldwide' and founder and owner of Saban Entertainment. The latter is best known for adapting from the Japanese and then marketing 'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers'. This marketing morphed Saban from an Israeli immigrant with no college degrees to a US billionaire and a highly influential political player. With net assets of $1.7 billion in 2002, he is listed by Forbes Magazine as the 236th richest person on earth,. Saban's programming, the source of his wealth, has often been criticized for promoting violence among children (e.g. in Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/1996, 4/17/1998; NY Times March 17, 1996).
Saban's interest is not limited to US politics. In 2000, he held a fundraiser featuring Ehud Barak, then a Labor Prime Minister running for election against the Likud leader Sharon . Saban's donations to the Brookings Institute established the Saban Center for Middle Eastern Studies . Martin Indyk was appointed director. Readers will recall that Indyk worked for the Israeli lobby in DC and then was appointed by Clinton as US Ambassador to Israel. Indyk did not have US citizenship but this was quickly corrected with a speeded up process of facilitation, nomination, and approval (all in less than two weeks). It was the first time a lobbyist for a foreign country had been appointed ambassador to that country. Clinton went further by appointing Dennis Ross as US Middle East envoy. Both before and after serving in the Clinton White House, Ross worked for the Israel-linked 'Washington Institute for Near East Policy' (WINEP). It is worthy to read what the respected New York Jewish magazine editor J. J. Goldberg wrote this in his book about WINEP:
'After stepping down as AIPAC [the umbrella Israeli lobby group] president in 1982, Weinberg devoted himself to creating a new Washington think tank. His goal, he told friends, was to alter the intellectual atmosphere surrounding Middle East policy discussions in the capital. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy opened its doors in 1984 with Weinberg's wife Barbi, herself a formidable power in Jewish community circles, as president. The executive director was Martin Indyk, an Australian Jewish Middle East scholar who had worked with Steven Rosen in the AIPAC research department' .
Similar, and in many ways even stronger, relationships between corporate icons, politicians, and DC think-tanks is found on the Republicans side as well. Likud party leaning Zionists in America tended to be Republicans. Some, like house majority leader Tom Delay and influential evangelicals like Pat Robertson, are known as 'Christian Zionists' who support Israel based on a doomsday scenario. Others, like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and the father of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, are Republicans who have certain ideological and personal affinity to Israel. These neo-conservatives now dominate the Republican Party. The latest result of their schemes is the war on Iraq .
Senator William Fullbright once wrote: "The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC (the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process" .
Many argue that corporate consolidation of the US media has sacrificed investigative journalism, has shielded the public from the facts, and has instead spread images of violence and fear. When you add elections determined by finances, that leaves little room for democracy and human rights. Third parties point out that to improve voter turnout requires drastic election reform: public financing and instant runoff. Others also point out the need to address the Israeli power over our capital. In any case, what is clearly needed is a more informed public that can guide a more rational US foreign policy not beholden to special interests. It is time to put American public interests first.
Israeli businessman Haim Shiban intends to acquire 50% of shares of Qatar-based satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera. The channel has gained reputation after the September 11 attack in the US; it has become one of the world's leading channels providing coverage of the latest news of the Arab world. The information has been reported Saturday by a Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustakbal with reference to Israeli sources.
Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- A group led by U.S. billionaire Haim Saban will increase its stake in German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 to 50.5 percent from 37.6 percent as a result of an agreement with German media company KirchMedia GmbH, which filed for protection from creditors two years ago.
The group of Haim Saban and five private equity firms ``will raise its stake to 50.5 percent as a result of the agreement,'' KirchMedia spokesmen Rudolf Wallraf said in a telephone interview from Munich.
The administrator of KirchMedia said KirchMedia's unit Taurus TV GmbH ended insolvency proceedings after reaching an agreement with creditors ProSiebenSat.1 and Universal Studios.
Axel Springer AG, Europe's largest newspaper publisher, will increase its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 12 percent as part of the settlement with of KirchMedia. Axel Springer will also get 60.3 million euros ($73.5 million) from Kirch. Universal Studios, owned by General Electric, will receive a ``confidential payment,'' KirchMedia said.
KirchMedia will sell a stake of 12.9 percent in ProSiebenSat.1 to Haim Saban's consortium to finance the payments to Axel Springer and Universal Studios