Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Israel’s Power Ranger

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by weiner

In a recent New Yorker, Connie Bruck wrote a fascinating profile of Haim Saban, the Egyptian-born Jew and Israeli army veteran who made a fortune (Forbes estimates $3.3 billion) largely as, in his own words, a “‘cartoon-schlepper.'” That’s right, Saban produced the schlocky semi-animated semi live-action series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which starred the lovely and talented Amy Jo Johnson (future cast member of J.J. Abrams‘ best work, Felicity). Powers Rangers had about a million and a half spin-offs, making Saban a wealthy man, who was able to branch out into other entertainment ventures and become a billionaire who now resides in Beverly Hills.

When Saban is not making money, however, he’s spending money, as both a major Jewish philanthropist and supporter of the Democratic Party. In fact, according to Bruck’s piece, the “largest single donor” to Party, who donated $7 million to “DNC Building Fund” in March of 2002.

Saban was and is a staunch supporter of the Clintons. He desperately wanted Hillarly Clinton to become president. He has been skeptical of Barack Obama, largely because of Israel. Saban to admitted Bruck, ‘”I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.'”

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of the controversial book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, must be grinning if they read the article. Heck, Saban’s probably all over their book (I don’t know because I haven’t read it). I never understood what the big deal about the book was: everyone knows rich American Jews donate money to convince US politicians to support Israel, through AIPAC or other channels. They don’t control the government in any way shape of form, but they do influence it, which is why Bruck titled her piece “The Influencer.”

I was aware of Saban’s Israeli origins long ago, but not his political involvement or militant Zionism. I suspect my views on Israel/Palestine are far to the left of his. We would probably disagree on what it means to be “pro-Israel,” and what policies are most likely (if any) to bring about peace in the region. But the fact that he has chosen to give his money to the Democratic Party is telling. It leads us to this obvious but important conclusion for American politics: very rich people are heavily invested in making sure that the Democratic Party is “pro-Israel.” To all those Jews who vote Republican solely because of Israel (a small but not insignificant minority), I can assure you that your votes are being wasted.


Written by David Weinfeld

May 14, 2010 at 14:51

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