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Forward 50 2015

Haim Saban

The Israeli-American entertainment mogul’s political loyalty was put to a test this year. Haim Saban, a top financial backer and personal friend of Hillary Clinton, and a hawkish supporter of Israel, was faced with a dilemma posed by the proposed Iranian nuclear deal: Clinton was for it; Israel was against it, as was AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby that Saban generously supports.

Saban, who describes himself as a “one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel,” chose to stick with Clinton, declaring that the Iran deal, with all its faults, is a “done deal” and that it’s time to move on, instead of trying to defeat the agreement.

With the 2016 elections approaching, Saban has consolidated his pro-Israel activity to avoid interfering with Clinton’s presidential run. He has severed ties with GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson after a short-lived honeymoon in which the two billionaires partnered to launch a new pro-Israel campus organization and cooperated in backing an Israel expat group.

Saban, 71, started his career as a rock musician and producer in Israel. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1980s and got his business start buying a successful children’s cartoon series. He has since become a major player in Hollywood entertainment with a net worth estimated at $3.5 billion.

With Clinton leading the Democratic presidential race, Saban is expected to devote more time and resources this coming year to political activity. If his bet pays off, Saban is poised to become the closest Jewish backer of the Democratic nominee, and perhaps of the next president.

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