Saban sit-down

Haim Saban lambasts Israeli coalition officials following Biden meeting

The Hollywood mogul met with President Joe Biden last week

Shahar Azran

FIDF National Board Member Haim Saban speaks at FIDF's Western Region Gala

Israeli-American mogul Haim Saban told Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that President Joe Biden “breaks out in hives” over extremist figures in the current Israeli government, about a week after having lunch with the president at the White House.

In an interview with Nadav Eyal, the major Democratic donor called the Netanyahu government’s behavior “inexplicable” and lamented the “arrogance” of [Israeli Finance Minister] Bezalel Smotrich and [National Security Minister] Itamar Ben-Gvir, as well as the leading figures in Israel’s judicial changes, Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee chairman Simcha Rothman, who, he said, behave as though Israel does not need military aid from the U.S. “They know that’s not the truth,” Saban said. “They’re saying it for political reasons alone.”

Saban also weighed in on Netanyahu’s planned visit to China, which the Hollywood mogul described as a threat to pivot away from the U.S. “It’s a real joke… How can people with so much experience, wisdom and intelligence do such things?” If the U.N. Security Council discusses sanctions on Israel, Saban asked, “Will the Chinese veto it?”

Saban expressed “a hope that is hopeless,” as he characterized it, that Israel’s leadership “finds a way to send the Israel-haters Ben-Gvir and Smotrich home, and that [National Unity Party leader] Benny Gantz and [Opposition Leader] Yair Lapid will enter the government” — but, he added, he understands Gantz and Lapid’s considerations in thus far refusing to join a Netanyahu-led government.

As for the Democratic Party, Saban told Yediot that Biden and congressional leadership – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)  – are still solidly pro-Israel, and there are only about a dozen members who are anti-Israel. He called Sen. Bernie Sanders “a self-hating Jew, an Israel-hater, and you can quote me on that.”

Saban also defended his backing of AIPAC’s super PAC, which played a key role in electing pro-Israel Democrats to Congress in 2022.  The group, however, drew criticism from left-wing opponents for endorsing candidates who denied that Biden won the 2020 election. “The only goal of this organization is to prevent people who are against US-Israel relations from advancing and to support those who support relations between Jerusalem and Washington… Many Democrats called me and said ‘are you stupid? you’re a Democrat who supports [2020 election deniers]?’ I always say the same thing: It’s a specific, defined issue, and that is the US-Israel relationship. In that sense, I’m not interested in anything else.”

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