(March 22, 2018 / Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.) Haim Saban’s commitment to the Jewish state is that of an immigrant for whom it was a sanctuary.
Born in 1944 in Alexandria, Egypt, to a seamstress mother and a toy-salesman father, Saban fled with them to Israel in 1956. That led them to a windowless, one-room dwelling in Hatzor HaGlilit near the Golan Heights. Times were hard, and Saban helped support the family by rising at 6 a.m. each day to work as a messenger boy. Barely finishing high school, he had the ambition to be a successful pop musician. After a brief stint as a bass-guitar player while serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, he was drawn into a career as a music producer, and then to TV sales and production.
Saban immigrated to the United States in 1983 and quickly became a media magnate. The first and most notable source of his wealth came after founding Saban Entertainment, when he purchased the lucrative foreign rights to the Japanese children’s show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.” After amassing his large fortune in America, Saban never forgot his Jewish roots and throughout his life remained devoted to Israel.
Together with his American-born wife, Cheryl, an author and psychologist, the Sabans use their great success to advance the cause of Israel through political advocacy and philanthropy.
The Sabans give generously to causes from health care and education to women’s empowerment.
But perhaps one of the largest beneficiaries of their philanthropy has been Israeli soldiers and veterans. The Sabans have both donated and fundraised millions of dollars for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, and for more than a decade have chaired the organization’s annual gala in Hollywood, which in 2017 raised a record-breaking $53.8 million. Also that year, the Sabans funded the establishment of a 25,000-square-foot FIDF Druze Soldiers Heritage Center in the Galilee that will serve as both a recreation facility for active-duty Druze soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and a tribute to the fallen, in addition to recognizing the Druze community’s significant contributions to Israel.
Haim and Cheryl Saban have also been dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship. In 2002, the Sabans provided $13 million to create the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Each year they sponsor the prestigious Saban Forum, which brings together U.S. and Israeli political, economic and media leaders to discuss issues relevant to the U.S.-Israel relationship and ways to enhance it. The Sabans also fund AIPAC’s biannual leadership seminar that equips thousands of college students with the skills and knowledge to combat the delegitimization of Israel on university campuses.
The Sabans are committed to improving health care in Israel, giving many millions to establish the Saban Children’s Hospital at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva.
In addition to their far-reaching philanthropic donations, the couple serves as one of the largest individual donors to the Democratic Party.
Becoming involved with politics more than two decades ago, the Sabans have worked tirelessly to bolster support of Israel within the Democratic Party. A testament to that devotion is apparent in Haim Saban’s clear and concise words, when he once said: “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”