Haim Saban criticizes Democrats for signing Bernie Sanders letter on Gaza crisis

Israeli-American entertainment mogul tells senators to ‘do your homework,’ calls letter ‘outrageous, misinformed, offensive’

Haim Saban attending the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 7, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)
Haim Saban attending the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 7, 2016. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via JTA)

Israeli-American entertainment mogul Haim Saban took several Democratic senators to task for signing on to a letter organized by Senator Bernie Sanders that calls on the US to “act urgently in order to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.”

Twelve Democratic senators and Sanders, an independent who ran for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2016, signed the letter dated May 11 that was sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. It also said the Trump administration should encourage Israel to ease restrictions on Palestinians living in Gaza.

Saban sent emails to six of the senators, along with a handful of staffers for others, expressing his “dismay” that they signed the letter, The Intercept reported Wednesday.

The Sanders letter was sent as thousands of Palestinians participated in clashes on the border between Israel and Gaza. More than 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis soldiers in the two months of protests, many of whom were members of the Hamas terrorist group.

“Senators, for you to listen to Senator Sanders and accuse Israel of being the main culprit is outrageous, misinformed, offensive and shows a lack of understanding of the region’s basic fundamentals,” Saban wrote in the email. “Do your homework, unless you have chosen to blindly follow Senator Sanders’ ill advised, misinformed, simplistic, and ignorant lead.”

US Sen. Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont, responds to a question during a town hall meeting in Jackson, Mississippi, April 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Nowhere in the Sanders letter was Israel accused of being the “main culprit” of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, as Saban indicated. While apportioning blame with Hamas, Sanders wrote Israel’s “continuing control of Gaza’s air, sea and northern, southern and eastern borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, have made the humanitarian situation worse.”

Israel maintains the blockade and restrictions are necessary to prevent Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and is committed to the Jewish state’s destruction, from acquiring weapons that could be used to carry out attacks against Israel.

The Democratic senators who signed the letter were Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tom Carper of Delaware, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tom Udall of New Mexico, Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, as well as Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

Saban, 73, has poured millions into Democratic politics over the years, including $15 million to Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign. He also donates to causes related to Israel, including the annual Saban Forum on Israel, which brings together political leaders from the United States and Israel to debate topics related to the Jewish state, and the Israeli-American Council, which aims to boost the Israeli and Jewish identity — and political clout — of Israelis living in the US.

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