An American billionaire who helped finance the grassroots group V15 said that he does not direct financial support to Zionist Camp co-leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Labor Party, or any other candidate for prime minister.
S. Daniel Abraham denied that he funded the Zionist Camp party directly. He said he had a strong interest in Israel’s well-being. “I am helping Israel obtain the best prime minister that Israel can have,” said Abraham during an interview with Channel 2 on Friday.
The Jewish-American businessman was vocal about his support for the V15 group — a grassroots outreach organization seeking “change in the government” — and declared his vision for the Jewish state.
“I don’t know [how much money I donated to V15], but I give them my heart, I give my heart to Israel [and] the Jewish people,” said Abraham. “I support the Jewish people with everything I have, because I want Israel to remain a Jewish, democratic, proud and independent and not half-Jewish and half-Arab.
“I have been supporting Israel and the causes of Israel all of my life,” the 90-year-old added.
The joint Herzog-Livni ticket came under fire by the Likud earlier this week after party officials alleged the Zionist Camp party had ties to the grassroots movement funded by foreign backers, a potential violation of election laws.
V15, short for “Victory 2015,” describes itself on its website as “a supra-party movement that was established by a group of young Israelis along with the announcement of elections” in December of last year. Its aim is to “change the dispiriting reality” in Israel and “take Israel to a new path.
“We don’t belong to and don’t work for the advancement of a particular party,” V15 says on its website. “Our aim is larger than the personal preference of each of us.”
The Likud, however, charged that group operates “with aid from radical leftist groups” and with “intervention by international actors who are interested in deposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”
The group denied the allegations.
Abraham, a long-time backer of the US Democratic party and the Clinton Foundation, insisted he had followed the law: “If the lawyer tells me it’s a kosher organization and it does things the proper way, I will support them.”
Although he has had a long friendship with the prime minister, Abraham said the two disagreed on a number of topics. “I am a friend [of Netanyahu’s], absolutely, I hope he considers me a friend,” he said. “We’re on different sides of a lot of arguments, a lot of issues, but we are on the same side of the most important issue… By the way I was the best friend of President Chaim Herzog,” the father of Isaac Herzog.
Of the Labor leader, Abraham said: “I love Isaac Herzog. I think he is a great man and a great Israeli patriot, I wish he was a little stronger in what he says.”
Abrahams also expressed strong opposition to the speech Netanyahu is scheduled to deliver to the US Congress on March 3.
“I think [the speech] is receiving a lot of very negative opinions and press and its causing a disturbance in the good relations between America and Israel. The American president and prime minister of Israel should never be on opposite sides of any argument.”
Abraham is a noted philanthropist who financed the Dan Abraham School for Business Administration and Economics at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, among other ventures. The Florida resident built his fortune in the 1970s after founding the Slim Fast diet supplement brand.
Lazar Berman and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.