Amid US – Israel friction, Saban hosts Obama
President Barack Obama attended a dinner fundraiser for the Democrat’s House Senate Victory Fund at the home of Haim and Cheryl Saban last night. Tickets were $16,200 per person and $32,400 per couple. The Saban’s are tremendous supporters of Israel. Haim Saban recently donated over $1 million to Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces in exchange for having Simon Cowell sing ‘Go Go Power Rangers.’ Saban is very close with the Clintons – he backed Hillary in the 2008 primaries, and reportedly was so upset when she lost that he considered supporting the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, in the general election – and has been critical of Obama’s approach to Israel. He contributes significantly to Democrats, but had never before hosted an event for Obama.
President Obama addressed a dinner fundraiser for the DSCC and DCCC at Haim and Cheryl Saban’s sprawling Beverly Hills estate at about 9:15 p.m. local. The dinner was attended by about 120 people who paid ticket prices from $16,200 per person to $32,400 per couple, according to a DCCC official. Speakers included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet, and Cheryl and Haim Saban, according to a DCCC official. Notable attendees included Jacqueline & Clarence Avant, Amb. Nicole Avant & Ted Sarandos; Edythe & Eli Broad; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Berry Gordy; Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson; Jena & Michael King, Wendy & Barry Meyer; Paul Reiser. Additional Senators and Members of Congress expected to attend: Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congressman Adam Schiff, Congressman Brad Sherman and Senator Barbara Boxer.
The dinner was held in a spectacular pitched tent in Saban’s backyard, with shimmering light brown fabric draped down from the center ceiling and four palm tree-inspired chandeliers. The heated tent was bathed in an orange/gold light, with bouquets of pink roses at the round tables and an elaborate fountain was in the middle of the tent.
Haim Saban introduced President Obama with a four-minute speech that needled the commander in chief for the lack of valet parking at the White House.
Saban said, “Last Friday, the president and first lady were very generous and kind with their time, they invited us to the White House for a very small intimate dinner. And we had a wonderful time – great food, great company, very inspiring. No valet parking! You know what? I had to walk to the White House. We have valet parking at the Sabans! So, Mr. President, if you would, please, thank you. Taxpayers’ money? I’ll fund it, no problem.”
Saban then said, “Some so-called fair and balanced media and charmers like Mr. Rush Limbaugh have been having a field day with the technical glitch on the Obamacare website and this has clouded some of the most remarkable achievements of this administration.” Saban went on to mention a few of Obama’s accomplishments “so that you can all see things with perspective without allowing the caffeine that’s in the tea party’s rhetoric to keep us awake at night worrying.”
Saban drew applause from the audience when he mentioned Obama’s record on foreign policy. Saban said, “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel – our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger. And if the Iranians are at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only as a result of President Obama’s resolve in striking down the most strict sanctions ever.”
President Obama then spoke for about 14 minutes. He began by saying, “Now, let me clarify something. First of all, there was valet parking – for Cheryl. We thought it was appropriate for Haim to get some exercise. Cheryl, being the wonderful person that she is, declined the valet parking, and so she might have joined him. But I would have been happy to have her drive right up into the South Lawn.” …
“Sometimes it’s bumpy, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes there are setbacks, and that’s ok, because it’s worth it,” Obama said, just before taking questions. …
Obama left Haim Saban’s house about 10:24 pm.