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Haim Saban dazzles Friends of Israel Defense Forces L.A. gala with Streisand and David Foster

The way we were: Streisand and Saban shore-up for Israel by Danielle Berrin in The Jewish Journal

For the 1,200-person crowd at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Gala Dinner on Dec. 8, it was Israel lighting the corners of their mind. 
 Century City’s Hyatt Regency ballroom was teeming with Los Angeles’ most hawkish, hard-line lovers of Israel, among them the annual event’s hosts, Haim and Cheryl Saban. Channeling a less idealized love were the evening’s headliners — Barbra Streisand, who sang, and Jason Alexander, who emceed — both of whom belong decidedly to the pro-peace, two-state solution left.

JooTube's Playlist features clips with Noa Tishby, Ronny Weinreich, Haim Saban, David Foster, Antonio Banderas, Michael W. Smith, Nita Whitaker and Cody Karey, Barbara Streisand, and dedicated L.A. F.I.D.F. supporter. Leo David. (2nd button from left advances to next clip; 2nd button from right raises Playlist menu).

There were other, stranger contrasts and ironies: Maimed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and U.S. Army veterans shared tables with a cosmetically reconstructed Real Housewife (Jill Zarin) and a fame-chasing Millionaire Matchmaker (Patti Stanger). Lachrymose videos about 18-year-old men and women who sacrifice all for God and country were projected on giant HD screens for the viewing pleasure of Los Angeles’ most affluent.

It was a striking mix of Jewish guilt and privilege, and nowhere was the conflict between those forces more evident than in Haim Saban himself. When he took the podium, he momentarily digressed from the speech on the teleprompter to admit, “It’s truly humbling to follow these guys” — referring to a one-eyed veteran of the war in Iraq, a paralyzed IDF soldier and a female F-16 fighter pilot, all of whom risked life and limb in the name of national fealty. “And here we are in Beverly Hills,” Saban said, “having a good time.”

He should know. He used to drive tanks; now he has a driver. He used to live in Israel; now he lives in Beverly Park. He moved on from his first love and thrived with his next love. So how does a man repay the country that saved him from persecution in Egypt and remained faithfully true, even after he abandoned her for the good life in America?

Israel is Saban’s poor ex-wife to whom he’s paying lifelong alimony.

Which explains why, year after year, Saban goes all-out for Israel. In addition to the millions he provides to support pro-Israel U.S. political candidates and the Democratic Party, as well as to the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, and his seemingly endless and unchecked support for local organizations like the Israeli Leadership Council, the FIDF dinner is his biggest public show. This one night of the year, Saban can prove to Israel that even though he can’t be with her, he really does still love her.

And what better way to demonstrate that romantic longing than with Streisand, the iconic Jewish star, who by simply parting her lips can bring a room to tears?

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