Despite a stormy week of protest and provocation following music icon Stevie Wonder’s last-minute pullout from the Friends of Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region dinner, the Dec. 6 gala went off without a hitch, raising a record $14 million for Israeli soldiers.
Legendary pop musician Stevie Wonder has cancelled his performance scheduled for the Dec. 6 FIDF Gala in Los Angeles saluting IDF Soldiers. The event is sponsored by philanthropists Haim and Cheryl Saban.
It could well be a happy new year for Israel’s military, as their friends on the West Coast just raised a bundle for Israeli soldiers through the organization Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). At a Western Region summer party hosted by real estate entrepreneur Daniel Mani and his wife, Tsipi, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) came one step closer to realizing a longtime dream of constructing “a city of training bases” in the Negev.
“I am an Israeli American!” a teenager declared in a promotional video at the fourth annual Israel Leadership Council (ILC) Gala on March 11, and the room of some 1,000 proud Israeli-Americans erupted in applause.
Haim Saban is sitting at the head of the table in his conference room on the 26th floor of his Century City tower offices. Here, he is kingpin, an image strongly reinforced by where he sits, as well as the attentiveness of his traditionally dressed office butler, who ducks in and out of the meeting continuously, pouring Pellegrino and serving cappuccinos.
One afternoon in late October, Haim Saban, seated in his wood-panelled library, contemplated the results of a fourteen-month renovation of his estate. It consists of a main house and two smaller buildings—one for guests and entertaining, one for his wife’s parents. He lives in Beverly Park, a gated community above Beverly Hills that is popular among Hollywood celebrities and moguls for its security and its exclusivity. With the help of an architectural firm, Saban’s wife, Cheryl, had transformed the interior of the twenty-three-thousand-square-foot French-style country manor house. “Only the outer walls were left—it looked like an airplane hangar!” Saban told me. The large foyer opened into a vast space comprising a living and a dining area, with minimalist modern furniture. Near the white upholstered sofas was a floor-to-ceiling display case filled with antiquities from Israel, and large Chagall paintings hung on the walls. “We have only Chagalls,” he said.