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In a move clearly timed to counter Republican charges that America’s relationship with Israel has suffered under President Barack Obama, Hollywood mogul Haim Saban weighed in Wednesday with an essay on the New York Times op-ed page forcefully endorsing the chief executive’s reelection.
Saban’s intervention, which demonstrates his continuing importance and influence within the Democratic Party nationally, could not have come at a better time for Obama. The GOP this week renewed its criticism of the president this week, focusing on changes in the Democratic platform that removed longtime demands that Jerusalem be recognized as Israel’s capitol. Early in this election cycle, there was speculation that Saban might sit this one out, but the media mogul told THR in April that he embraced the president’s reelection after a one-on-one policy discussion in the White House.
Saban’s piece, which was the most prominent on the Times’ opinions page, began, “As an Israeli-American who cares deeply about the survival of Israel and the future of the Jewish people, I will be voting for President Obama in November. Here why.
“Even though he could have done a better job highlighting his friendship for Israel, there’s no denying that by every tangible measure, his support for Israel’s security and well-being has been rock solid,” he wrote.
Saban, who in recent years has been one of the DNC’s largest individual donors, then went on to detail Obama’s close and substantial work with Israel, particularly on critical security issues. He quoted Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak as saying, “I can hardly remember a better period of American support and backing and Israeli cooperation and similar strategic understanding of events around us than what we have right now.”
Saban went on to criticize Romney’s vague approach to blocking Iran’s nuclear aspirations and implicitly, gaming magnate Sheldon Andelson, who has given hundreds of millions to defeat Obama. “(A)s John Adams said,” Saban wrote, “facts are stubborn things. The facts back up the president’s staunch support of Israel—facts that even $100 million from a casino magnate can’t refute.”
Saban concludes his essay by saying, “When I enter the voting booth, I’m going to ask myself, what do I prefer for Israel and its relationship with the United States: meaningful action or empty rhetoric? To me the answer is clear: I’ll take another four years of Mr. Obama’s steadfast support over Mr. Romney’s sweet nothings.”
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