Haim Saban, a billionaire Israeli-American and a long-time donor to the Democrats, announced this week that he will not be donating to President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC’s Michelle Caruso on Tuesday, Saban said he does not plan to donate to President Obama as he has other Democrats.
“President Obama has raised so much money and will raise so much money through the Internet, more than anybody before him,” he said. “And he frankly doesn’t, I believe, need any of my donations.”
Saban continued, “Will I donate if I am solicited? I will donate. But I can tell you that my staunch support in enlisting people to contribute to the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and to the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] as well as to Democratic senators and congresspeople hasn’t weakened in any way, shape or form. I continue to be a very active supporter of Democrats in both the Senate and the Congress.”
Saban also said in the interview that Obama should visit Israel as he has done with other countries in the Middle East.
“I’m very perplexed as to why the president, who’s been to Cairo, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, has not made a stop in Israel and spoken to the Israeli people,” Saban said. “I believe that the president can clarify to the Israeli people what his positions are on Israel and calm them down. Because they are not calm right now.”
Saban was referring to the president’s speech in the State Department last Thursday, in which he said, “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines [1949 armistice lines, which many defense experts have said are indefensible –ed.] with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. .. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.”
Obama’s suggestion in the speech that Israel would need to return to the 1949 armistice lines as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority prompted an outcry from his potential Republican opponents in the 2012 election. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, for example, said Obama had “thrown Israel under the bus.”
Jewish Americans currently living in Israel also expressed their disappointment over the president’s remarks during a rally on Sunday opposite the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
Obama appeared to backtrack on his earlier statements during his speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference this week.
“Let me reaffirm what ‘1967 lines with swaps’ means,” Obama explained. “The parties themselves will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed in 1967. That is what ‘mutually agreed swaps’ means. It allows for the parties to take account of the changes that have taken place over the past 44 years, including demographic facts on the ground and the needs of both sides.”
Addressing Obama’s change in position, Saban told CNBC, “The president has clarified what he means, and I believe that with that, you know, we’re all good. As an Israeli-American, we’re all good.”
Saban, currently the chairman of Univision Spanish Television, previously ran Saban Entertainment, which imported, dubbed, and adapted Japanese television series to North American television. Perhaps the most famous of these was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.
A musician, Saban has written the original theme music to the children’s cartoon Inspector Gadget. He was a member of an Israeli band called “The Lions” in the 1960s and produced the annual Israeli children’s songs festival in the 1970s.
According to Forbes Magazine, Saban is worth $3.5 billion. He is ranked by the magazine as the 104th richest person in America.