Israellycool » Haim Saban Down Under Punditry in the Middle East Thu, 13 Aug 2015 21:47:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pro-Israel Celebrities Help Raise Millions of Dollars for IDF Sat, 08 Nov 2014 18:25:33 +0000 Many of the who’s who of Hollywood, plus a bunch of other celebrities, have helped raise 33 million dollars to support IDF soldiers.

Over $33 million was raised at the annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala on Thursday, November 6, 2014, breaking all records at the event where more than 1,200 supporters from the United States and Israel gathered to support the brave men and women of the IDF. Those in attendance included respected leaders and widely-known figures from the Hollywood, business, tech, sports and political communities. FIDF National Board Member and major supporter, Haim Saban, and his wife, Cheryl, served as chairs of the star-studded Gala that took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

Notable donations made at the event included $9 million from Larry Ellison, co-founder and Chairman of Oracle Corporation; $5 million from Sheldon and Miriam Adelson; $5.2 million from brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano of Guess Jeans; $3.6 million from Cheryl and Haim Saban; $2 million from Steve Tisch, Chairman and Executive Vice President of the New York Giants; $1 million from Leo David, founder of the Western Region of the FIDF; and $1.6 million from The Helmsley Charitable Trust. In addition, first-time attendees and donors Michael and Susan Dell gave $1.8 million to fund IMPACT! educational scholarships. These generous gifts demonstrate the overwhelming support for FIDF.

“It is incredibly touching to see how advocacy for the FIDF has grown in Los Angeles,” said Haim Saban. “The caliber of Gala attendees from Hollywood, tech, business and other walks of life – especially a large contingent of people without ties to Israel or Judaism – ultimately speaks to their admiration for the heroic men and women of the IDF and the incredible work that the FIDF does to support them. Tonight’s Gala has become an event that the Los Angeles community looks forward to each year as a chance to honor the soldiers who defend the State of Israel.”

“In my mind, there is no greater honor than supporting some of the bravest people in the world, and I thank FIDF for providing us with this opportunity year-after-year to celebrate and support these soldiers,” said Larry Ellison. “These men and women come together with indefatigable purpose, to defend Israel and strive to co-exist in peace.”

Mr. Saban continued, “On behalf of the FIDF, I am grateful to our donors, sponsors and supporters, whose generosity enables us to keep changing lives for those upholding the freedoms of the Jewish community worldwide.”

The evening began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a program emceed by bestselling author and political analyst, Monica Crowley, and featured unforgettable performances by Ricky Martin, David Foster and Friends and The Canadian Tenors. Among the many participants at the Gala were former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbra Streisand, Sylvester Stallone, Chris Tucker, Pamela Anderson, Kathy Ireland, Joanna Krupa, Avi Arad, Founder of Arad Productions Inc. and Founder and former CEO of Marvel Studios, and his wife Joyce, Avi Lerner, Co-Chairman of NuImage, and Ben Silverman, Founder and CEO of Electus, and his wife Jennifer Cuoco.

The Jerusalem Post report contains this from Pamela Anderson:

Pamela Anderson, who also attended, showed her love for the holy land and said that “Israel is magical. It is one of my favorite places to be. A mixture of old and new, arts, music, freedom. The people of Israel are interesting, aware and generous. You can see they are very senstive to the world’s problems. Israel is a place everyone must experience.”

pamela anderson

Haim Saban and Pamela Anderson (photo credit: PETER HALMAGYI)

Model Joanna Krupa, Haim Saban and celebrities. (photo credit: PETER HALMAGYI)

Actor Chris Tucker, Model Joanna Krupa, Haim Saban and Backstreet Boy A.J McLean (photo credit:PETER HALMAGYI)

Barbara Streisand and Haim Saban (photo credit: PETER HALMAGYI)

Barbara Streisand and Haim Saban (photo credit: PETER HALMAGYI)

Arnold schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Haim Saban (photo credit:PETER HALMAGYI)

Arnold schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Haim Saban (photo credit:PETER HALMAGYI)

There’s a bunch more photos here, revealing more of the celebrities in attendance, including:

  • Musician David Foster
  • A.J McLean from the Backstreet Boys
  • Basketballers Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar (remember him?)
  • Conservative commentator Monica Crowley
  • Singer-songwriter Austin Brown

My pro-Israel celebrities post just got bigger.

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Simon Cowell Donates And Raises Money For The IDF (Updated) Wed, 23 Oct 2013 20:08:24 +0000 Simon Cowell has donated a fair bit of money to Friends of the IDF. With Lionel Richie performing.

Haim Saban and Simon Cowell enjoyed their evening at a Friends of the IDF Western Region Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Saban and Cowell donated $2.3 million and $50,000 respectively, and the event raised NIS 70 million in total.

The almost 1,200 attendees enjoyed a rare singing performance from Lionel Richie.

‘The Jewish and Israeli community in Los Angeles appreciates and embraces the soldiers of the IDF, and will continue to do everything [possible] in order to give thanks to them and strengthen them in whatever is needed,’ said Saban.

But Cowell didn’t stop there. He was even willing to embarrass himself by singing the Power Rangers theme song for – wait for it – $1 million.

List updated.

Bar would be proud.

Or would she?

Update: According to Hollywood Jew, Cowell also plans to visit Israel later this year.

Big name attendees were also scarcer this year, though Israeli mega-producer Avi Lerner was there, as was Electus founder Ben Silverman. The shiniest star in the whole lot, though, was the real “American Idol,” Simon Cowell, who sat gleaming in a corner with his very pregnant girlfriend (Jewish divorcee Lauren Silverman, with whom Cowell had an affair while she was still married) and from where he publicly pledged $50,000 to the Israel Defense Forces.

That’s right: Simon Cowell, critic extraordinaire, is officially a Zionist; and, on his way out of the gala, told me his plans to visit Israel later this year.

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Stevie Wouldn’t But Chaka Khan Sun, 09 Dec 2012 18:54:54 +0000 The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) annual dinner went ahead last week, and while Stevie Wonder was not there, we got Chaka Khan instead!

Spirits were barely diminished at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) annual dinner Thursday night, a week after headliner Stevie Wonder’s provocative and public pullout. More than 1,000 Israel supporters turned out at the Hyatt Regency in Century City for the annual gala hosted by Haim and Cheryl Saban.

The four-and-a-half hour evening steered by “Seinfeld” veteran Jason Alexander included moving, personal presentations by IDF soldiers and raised a reported $11.5 million from attendees, many of them Israeli-American business and entertainment leaders, including Avi Arad, head of Marvel Entertainment, film producer Avi Lerner, real estate developer Izek Shomof, actress and producer Noa Tishby and Oracle business magnate Larry Ellison.

Businessman and producer David Matalon offered the best line of the evening when, during the live auction-style fundraiser, he pledged $8,000 to the FIDF and, “in honor of Stevie Wonder, another $2,000.”

“I’ll have him call you to tell you he loves you,” Haim Saban quipped from the stage.

Other than that moment of levity, the silence surrounding Wonder’s cancelation continued, although emcee Alexander seized an opportunity to share some unusually candid remarks about the complexities of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In a lengthy and serious address, he talked about his love for both Israelis and Palestinians and how his work with the organization One Voice has exposed him to both sides of the conflict.

“This conflict continues because of the inability of leaders to break through this impasse and find a way to peace,” he said.

Knowing before whom he stood — a predominantly Israeli-American and Jewish crowd – Alexander was careful to balance his pro-Palestinian remarks with strong supportive messages about Israel. The most vigorous applause came when he referred to the Jewish state as the most “maligned, underappreciated and hardest challenged nation on the planet,” and expressed admiration for its soldiers.

“I believe that the men and women soldiers that defend [Israel] are among the most honorable and noble soldiers the world has ever seen,” Alexander said, though he added that sometimes, “they have made mistakes.”

He thanked the crowd for the opportunity to share his thoughts

Throughout the night, Israeli soldiers took to the podium to share their stories, many of them heart-wrenching reminders that even with its military might, the IDF has suffered profound losses. Yoni Asraf, an American who enlisted in the IDF, told the crowd how he had used his body as a shield in order to protect a fellow soldier during combat, a move that cost him an arm. He was subsequently awarded a medal for his bravery, and he refused to relinquish his post, spending years rehabilitating himself in order to rejoin his unit.

Later, an Egyptian-born mother who imigrated to Israel and lost two of her sons in combat for the IDF, delivered an astoundingly resilient message. “I am not broken,” she said. “You cannot break a spirit.”

After her emotional speech, host Cheryl Saban embraced her, while her husband looked on with misty eyes.

“As a mother myself, your story has touched me. Everyone in this room is inspired by you,” Cheryl said.

Haim Saban used his pulpit time to talk about the values of the IDF, portraying an army of ideals, of “courage, compassion, strength and sacrifice.”

Inspiration rapidly gave way to income, as Saban himself solicited donations to the FIDF from the stage. “The time is always ripe to do right,” he said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

Once millions of dollars in pledges had been collected from the crowd, Grammy-winning musician and producer David Foster orchestrated some light entertainment, with performances by “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard and a gold-glitter encrusted Chaka Khan, the Grammy winning “Queen of Funk-Soul,” who sang the hit “I’m Every Woman.”

Foster, who has coordinated the musical entertainment for the FIDF dinner for years, said in an interview that although he has never been to Israel, he has learned a thing or two about Jewish culture from all the dinners.

“I’m not Jewish,” Foster told the crowd. “But I have been circumcised, and I do know Barbra Streisand.”

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the event, which reveal Dolph Lundgren was also there, as well as Jason Alexander’s pet hamster (all photos by Alexi Rosenfeld, AJR Photography).

Update: Here’s video from the event.

Update: More here.

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Stevie’s A Wonder Sun, 25 Nov 2012 18:45:57 +0000 Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder has no doubt pissed off the BDSholes.

The annual gala of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) organization will be held on Thursday, December 6, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The event will be hosted by Cheryl and Haim Saban and is expected to be attended by more than 1,000 members of the Los Angeles Jewish community. The gala is considered one of the organization’s flagship events and is known to raise millions of dollars.

The world’s leading artists have performed at the event over the years, and this year Saban managed to recruit Stevie Wonder. Last year the audience had the privilege of listening to Barbra Streisand, and the year before they enjoyed a performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

According to Haim Saban, “The annual FIDF Western Region Gala has become a tradition and a must-attend event for the Los Angeles Jewish community. The event connects the warm community to the IDF’s soldiers, and this is our opportunity to thank the soldiers who defend the State.”

This is not the first time Stevie has flexed his pro-Israel credentials. In fact, if you Google ‘Stevie Wonder Israel,’ the first result is my pro-Israel celebrities list, on which Stevie is included by virtue of his appearance in 1998’s To Life! America Celebrates Israel’s 50th.

Here’s a performance of his from that event [dodgy video quality warning]

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