Schlepping to Moguldom

<<< Earlier issue of this journal ^ This issue of this journal Later issue of this journal >>>

Article/book #: 8412
Title: Schlepping to Moguldom
By: Andrew Ross Sorkin  
Published in: The New York Times
Date of issue: Sunday, 5 September 2004
Topic(s) addressed: People/entities mentioned in this item:
Commentary (by a person who is not a member of the UCC Palestine Solidarity Campaign ):

Control of the media by pro-Israel groups? Dual-loyalty?

It is interesting to see how zionists groups have penetrated the US establishment. The right-wing zionists have taken over the AEI (American Enterprise Institute), and the dovish ones have the Brookings Institute. These used to be the Republican/Democrat think-tanks for policy-makers in waiting.

It is also interesting to read how Israel is a "charitable cause" for the likes of Saban.

To help understand the title of the article, this may be useful:

schlep or schlepp also shlep Slang
v. schlepped, or schlepped also shlepped schlep·ping, or schlepp·ing shlep·ping schleps or schlepps shleps

v. tr. To carry clumsily or with difficulty; lug: schlepped a shopping bag around town.
v. intr. To move slowly or laboriously: schlepped around with the twins in a stroller.
  1. An arduous journey.
  2. A clumsy or stupid person.

[Yiddish shlepn, to drag, pull, from Middle Low German slepen.]
[PIWP editor thinks the second definition applies best.]

»HAIM SABAN, one of the nation’s richest and most improbable media magnates, was slouched in a leather seat aboard his Gulfstream jet during a trip from Los Angeles to New York this spring, rattling on about his support for Israel. After devouring a bagel covered in lox, he leaned forward and launched into his favorite story from the Democratic presidential primaries.
"Did I tell you what Howard Dean told me?" he asked, knowing full well that he had not, at least not yet today. "Do you know how he tells me that he is going to support Israel?" he recounted, with a look of incredulity. "He tells me, ‘Don’t you know my wife is Jewish?’ "«

»"I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel," he said in his first extensive interview in years.«

»To that end, he has become one of the largest individual donors in the country to the Democratic Party and its candidates, giving millions over the past decade – $7 million in just one donation to the Democratic National Committee in 2002. He recently had Senator John Kerry over to his chateau-style home in Beverly Hills. ("We played guitar and kibitzed," he said.) He regularly spends hours at a time on the phone with Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister. He vacations with Bill Clinton.«

»But what really has people talking in Hollywood and Washington is his most ambitious project yet: he is the proud owner of the largest television broadcaster in Germany. "I know, I know. I get the irony," he said with a smile. A year ago, Mr. Saban beat out his one-time partner, Mr. Murdoch, and many other media titans to buy the broadcaster, ProSiebenSat.1 Media, putting him in control of a company that owns the rough equivalent of CBS, ABC, TBS and Nickelodeon. "That level of ownership would never be allowed in the U.S.," he acknowledged. "It would be too much concentration."«

»That, Mr. Saban readily acknowledged, is the plan. As one of the richest people in Hollywood, he hears about possible deals constantly. He is toying with the idea of buying The Jerusalem Post from Hollinger International, which has been canvassing for buyers. "If they ever come to earth with the price, I would be interested in it," he said.«

»He said he caught the political bug in the mid-1990’s, when he felt that support for Israel was slipping in the United States. He and his wife, Cheryl (who, by the way, is not Jewish), slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms. And Mr. Saban has remained close to the former president. "Haim Saban has been a very good friend, supporter and adviser to me," Mr. Clinton said in an e-mail message. "I am grateful for his commitment to Israel, to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to my foundation’s work, particularly on reconciliation issues." Mr. Clinton might have added that he is also grateful for Mr. Saban’s commitment to the Democratic Party, including his $7 million donation two years ago, the largest individual donation in its history.«

»While Mr. Saban is a vocal opponent of President Bush – "I think Bush is just messing it up every day more" – he supports some of Mr. Bush’s policies. "On the issues of security and terrorism I am a total hawk," he said. "I'm a Democrat for the reinforcement of the Patriot Act. It’s not strong enough. The A.C.L.U. can eat their heart out, but they are living in the 1970’s. We should all have ID’s. You betcha. What do you have to hide? Some friends of mine on the left side think I'm crazy."
Why is he so supportive of Israel? "I hate quoting Tom DeLay, I really do," Mr. Saban said. "If you're going to quote me quoting Tom DeLay, say I hate quoting him." He continued, apparently quoting Mr. DeLay, the House Republican leader: "He said: ‘It is the right thing for us to do to be supportive of Israel. The reasons go back to the beginning of time.’ "
Mr. Saban’s views on the matter are straightforward. He is a tireless cheerleader for Israel. But when it comes to conflict there, his views are hardly sanguine. "I'm going to make a very controversial statement and I hope to God that I am proven totally wrong: I think that any resolution will have to go both on the Palestinian side and Israeli side to some form of civil war. It’s not going to be without spilling blood."
In 2002, he pledged $13 million to start a research organization at the Brookings Institution called the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. ("I’ve heard from leaders on both sides of the aisle in the United States and leaders in Europe about what Sharon shouldn’t do," he said. "I’ve haven’t heard one educated suggestion about what he should do.") Mr. Saban spends hours every week drumming up support for a variety of charitable causes and, especially, for Israel, sponsoring lunches and dinners at his home and around the country to raise money for candidates who he believes will support his cause. "He has no hesitation to bang on your door for a cause he believes in," said Ron Meyer, president of Universal Studios, who called Mr. Saban one of the few guys "who puts his money where his mouth is."«

» Haim Saban "is not like one of the guys just assembling trophy properties," said Steven Rattner, the managing director of the Quadrangle Group, an investment firm that backed Mr. Saban in ProSiebenSat.1. "He'd rather be considered a mogul in Germany than here,'' Mr. Rattner said. "He thinks Germany is critical to Israel."«

Quotations from this item:
Haim Saban:  "I’m a one issue guy, and my issue is Israel ... "

Previous Next