Mondoweiss / September 11, 2023
In a recent interview billionaire and Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban said that Bernie Sanders was a “self-hating Jew” and an “Israel-hater,” and defended his support for the lobbying group AIPAC.
In a recent interview Democratic mega-donor Haim Saban attacked Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over his criticisms of Israel.
The billionaire media proprietor told Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that most congressional Democrats remain very pro-Israel and that only about a dozen stand opposed to the country. He specifically singled out Sanders for scorn calling him “a self-hating Jew” and “an Israel-hater.” “You can quote me on that,” he added.
In the same interview Saban criticized extremist members of the current Israeli government, calling their behavior “inexplicable.” Saban said he hopes that Israeli leadership finds a way to send the Israel-haters [National Security Minister Itamar] Ben-Gvir and [Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich home, and that [National Unity Party leader] Benny Gantz and [Opposition Leader] Yair Lapid will enter the government.”
Saban was also asked about his decision to keep donating to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) despite the lobbying group’s support for numerous Republicans who refused to certify President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. “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 … ” he explained. “Many Democrats called me and said ‘are you stupid? you’re a Democrat who supports [Jan 6 Republicans]?’ 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.”
Saban had lunch with Biden at The White House last week where they reportedly met for three hours. He said that some members of Israel’s government make the president “break out in hives,” but noted that he regularly cites his commitment to the Zionist cause.
Last year Saban donated $1 million to the United Democracy Project (UDP), the Super PAC that AIPAC uses to spend heavily on Democratic primaries. The PAC has already raised almost $9 million to spend on 2024 races and is hoping to oust progressives like Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) over their positions on Israel/Palestine.
During the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries Saban (who is worth an estimated $3.2 billion) declared that he loved every candidate besides Sanders. “We love all 23 candidates,” he said at time. “No, minus one. I profoundly dislike Bernie Sanders, and you can write it. I don’t give a hoot. He’s a communist under the cover of being a socialist. He thinks that every billionaire is a crook. He calls us ‘the billionaire class.’ And he attacks us indiscriminately. ‘It’s the billionaire class, the bad guys.’ This is how communists think. So, 22 are great. One is a disaster zone.”
He went on to blame Sanders for the faltering reputation of AIPAC among some Democratic lawmakers. “I can’t deny the impact that Bernie has had on the Democratic Party,” he admitted. “I love it when Bernie says, ‘I recognize Israel’s right to exist.’ That’s how he expresses his support of Israel. Well, thank you so very much. Are you out of your freaking mind? Oh, I’m allowed to live. Hallelujah, praise the lord.”
Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss