Adam and Haim discuss how important it is to have Israeli-Americans be the connector between the U.S. and Israel; as well as how we can fight BDS and anti-Semitism. Haim Saban is an Israeli-American media proprietor, investor, philanthropist, musician, record, film & television producer as well as an accomplished businessman.


Adam Milstein: This is Adam Milstein. Welcome to my podcast. Today I’m honored to have an incredible Israeli American and Jewish leader on the program. Haim Saban is a world famous entrepreneur, a generous philanthropist, and a first advocate for the state of Israel and the Jewish people. I’ve been privileged to know Haim for many years, and to call him my friend. Haim, thank you for being on the program.


Haim Saban: My pleasure.


Adam Milstein: Thanks. Haim, I’d like to start with the following question. You’ve been an outspoken advocate for Israel in so many different arenas. In American politics, in the entertainment industry, in the global business community. What are the challenges Israel faces in the global arena today, and what are the opportunities?


Haim Saban: First Adam, I’d like to complement you for putting so much of your time and of your resources in putting out the message about how important the US Israeli relationship is, and how hard you work at portraying Israel the way that it really is, which is a very positive image. For that, my personal behalf and behalf of the Jewish people, I’m very thankful to you. If you would like me to give you a list of the challenges that Israel fits, we’re not going to be able to do it in the 20 minutes that you told me we have. We need 20 days because the challenges that Israel faces is unfortunately very, very long. A number of challenges, it’s very many.


There are 5 fronts on this security level that Israel is facing. Israel, being part of the community of nations, is held to a different standard than the people who want to destroy Israel. Who are held to no standard, and they don’t really care because they don’t trade with the world. They don’t … They’re not part of the community of nations, but Israel does care. Israel is the only democracy in the region, and that is one of its bigger challenges is the fact that it’s held to a completely different standard. The Israeli army, for example, as defined by many leading military officers around the world is the most moral army in the world. The most moral army in the world.


What you get today is criticism and reports and the united nation human rights organization, which is nothing but an anti-Semitic group. Both on the security level, the image level, Israel’s challenges are very many. The good news is, when you ask Israelis if they’re happy, 82% of them tell you that they are, because Israel is a thriving democracy with very many opportunities for anyone who really wants to work hard and do it ethically to achieve incredible goals. 82% of Israelis are happy despite all that.


Adam Milstein: Thank you Haim. Thank you for your kind word about my work with the community. Appreciate it. As you know, I’ve been very involved in the effort to combat the BDS movement, and the delegitimization of Israel. What do you think should be our community approach in dealing with the hate movement which is spreading across the US and around the world?


Haim Saban: There is not one formula to deal with it in the US on campuses primarily, and the rest of the world. You can’t paint that problem with the same brush. It will be simply strategic mistake. A system or a mechanism that would work in the US would not necessarily work in France or in England or in Germany. Since we are in the US, we’ll focus on the US. I will say that a lot is being done by many people to fight the unjustified incomprehensible and anti-Semitic movement that is called the BDS. This is not about Israel. This is about an anti-Semitic movement. I’ll give you one example of very many that I’m very familiar with because it’s a program that we have held in campuses for 15 years now, which is called the Saban educational program, or something to that effect. I don’t remember. Where we educate young kids to defend Israel on campuses and we supply them with all the information that they need to do that.


There are many other organizations like Stand With Us for example, like the IAC, which you’re somewhat familiar with, that do a lot of work in that area. We have to continue each one in the best way that one can to fight this cancer which is really detrimental to Israel’s image. Detrimental to the Jewish community, and that’s basically it. Everyone should try to do the best that we can, and there are other aspects of causes. Political aspects that my understanding is some people are picking and working with elected officials to try and pass legislation that would ban BDS, or would conquer BDS. There are many actions that are being taken by many organizations. I think there will be more. We will see more of that. I think that a lot of Jewish organizations are waking up to the de-legitimization that comes as a result of the BDS.


Adam Milstein: Thanks Haim. Very correct. You correctly defined BDS as an anti-Semitic hate movement. We’ve seen over and over again that whatever starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. Do you think that BDS is just against Israel? Or is it also against the United States and Western civilization?


Haim Saban: There are some members of the BDS activity, like this guy West …


Adam Milstein: Cornell West.


Haim Saban: Cornell West for example, has called President Obama a war criminal. If he calls his own president a war criminal, I don’t know how far he goes with that. This is obviously a very misinformed individual with opinions that are just not … He’s simply incorrect and misinformed.


Adam Milstein: Thanks. Haim, you first came to the United States more than 30 years ago. You’ve been an important leader in the Israeli American community. In fact, you were the one that convinced us to change our identity from Israelis to Israeli Americans. How have you seen this community grow and change over the years?


Haim Saban: I think that the IAC, of which you are a chairman and I’m not saying what I’m going to say because you are the chairman of that, is doing holy work. I really believe that. I think that making sure that Israeli Americans work relentlessly to reinforce the relationship to the US and Israel while retaining connection to our roots in Israel. It’s really easy to be an Israeli American. It’s much harder to be, I would say, for example a Syrian American. An Israeli American just follows what the two countries have been at since the beginning of time. Beginning of time being 1948. I think that for the IAC and hopefully other organizations to reinforce that connection is holy work.


Adam Milstein: Thank you Haim. I guess it’s a pleasure to be an Israeli American, in part of the IAC. You know, we have recently noticed that we have many Jewish Americans that come and participate in the Israeli American communities. The Israeli American activities seem to connect them back to Israel and back to their Jewish heritage, because the Israeli Americans are not temple goers. They’re really culturally connected to Israel and to Jewish heritage. Do you think that the Israeli American community and activities can reconnect the young Jewish American generation to Israel and to their Jewish heritage?


Haim Saban: Any activity that brings the young Jewish generation under the tent—and that tent being the connection to the motherland and the relationship between the US and Israel—is a good thing. It’s a good thing for America. It’s a good thing for Israel. It’s a good thing for the Jewish community. As I said, educate your kids to be politically active. Educate your kids to have an emotional connection to our Jewish roots and Israel. Educate your kids to be proud Americans and educate your kids to reinforce and do all they can to continue sustaining the special relationship that exists between our two countries.


Adam Milstein: Thanks. The special relationship I agree. Haim, you’ve been an incredible connector with the Latino community. You are the chairman of the Spanish language media company, Univision. You are very close to many leaders in the Latino community, including many elected officials. How can the Jewish community do a better job building bridges to the Latino community and other minority communities like African Americans?


Haim Saban: There are multiple ways. As you know, Israel is a country that is I would say manned or filled with people from 100 countries. There are 100 countries, so therefore 100 cultures. I think that it’s easy for Israeli Americans, and hopefully for the Jewish community too, to connect between various cultures. It is in our DNA to live with other cultures. Reaching out to the Hispanic community, the African American community, the Asian community, the Native Americans should be a priority. We have a lot to offer them, and they have a lot to offer us. Let’s reach out and bring them under the tent.


Adam Milstein: Excellent. Haim, thank you very much for being on the program. It’s always a pleasure spending some time with you. Thanks again.


Haim Saban: Thank you.