Palestinians Rally in Santa Monica
A public forum in support of the Palestinian cause drew a standing-room-only crowd to Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles on March 2. The meeting, held in preparation for a March on Washington set for April 20, was sponsored by the group Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Palestinian American Women's Association.
The pro-Palestinian meeting drew supporters from a broad swath of progressive and radical causes; flyers and literature handed out before the speeches advocated for Greenpeace, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier, along with the anti-war and pro-Palestinian purpose of the afternoon. Following a 10-minute video titled "Intifada: The Road to Freedom," speakers, including former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, addressed the crowd. -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer
Saban's Successful Season
The success saga of Haim Saban, the billionaire children's entertainment magnate, continues apace.
A one-time sergeant major in the Israeli army, who grew up in a Tel Aviv slum, Saban has just been appointed to the Board of Regents of the University of California by Gov. Gray Davis.
The position of regent carries no remuneration but considerable prestige and has been described as the California equivalent of a knighthood.
Parenthetically, the 57-year-old Saban and his companies have contributed more than $400,000 to the governor's election campaigns over the past three years, including a recent $50,000 donation.
For a companion title, Saban has been named finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He has raised millions for Democratic Party causes, as well as substantial sums for former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other Labor Party stalwarts.
Born in Egypt and raised in Israel, Saban arrived in Los Angeles in 1983 and scored his first phenomenal success with his children's television show "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." In 1995, he went into partnership with media mogul Rupert Murdoch to create Fox Family Worldwide.
That company was sold last October to the Walt Disney Co. for $5.2 billion. According to the Los Angeles Times, Saban "and his affiliates" received about $1.4 billion.
As Saban's political donations and muscle grow, he has become one of the most courted donors by Democratic heavyweights, from presidents and would-be presidents on down.
A recent Los Angeles Times article lists the three most sought-after names at political fundraisers as "Haim Saban, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Lew Wasserman," thus putting Saban on the same level as the two Hollywood legends.
Saban is greatly supported in his political and charitable endeavors by his wife, Cheryl, who ranks among the city's reigning power hostesses.
In a recent profile of Cheryl Saban, the Los Angeles Times reports: "Among the party divas who stay at the top of their game, star power is the key. [Cheryl] Saban, for instance, can command heads of state, such as the president of Israel. She has held soirees for both Bill and Hillary Clinton."
Haim Saban declined requests for an interview for this story. -- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Anti-Arab Hate Crimes Down
Hate crimes committed against Arab Americans in California have fallen more than 90 percent since an upsurge of such crimes in September 2001, according to a report by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The report, released Feb. 28, tracks a steady decline in hate crimes in 17 police and sheriffs jurisdictions, from a high of 182 attacks in the weeks immediately following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to a low of seven in January 2002. In all, the report lists 294 hate crimes committed against Arab or Muslim Americans, Sikhs, South Asians and others mistaken for Arabs or Muslims since Sept. 11. Seventy-one anti-Arab hate crimes were reported in October, 21 in November and 13 in December. More than one-third of the reported attacks have occurred in Los Angeles. -- ML