Israeli media mogul Haim Saban mulls stake in Al Jazeera

By Nimrod Halpern, Haaretz – 8 Oct 2009

Israeli businessman Haim Saban is negotiating with Qatar’s emir the purchase of 50 percent of the Al Jazeera television network, the independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Mesryoon reported earlier this week.

Saban, an Egyptian-born Jew, was first reported to be negotiating the purchase of half the Doha -based network in 2004, after visiting the emirate with former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The media mogul, estimated to be worth more than $3 billion, brought the Power Rangers franchise to the Arab world and made a fortune out of developing and selling the Fox Family cable network together with News Corp. In Israel, Saban owns a controlling stake in Bezeq.

Last month Saban blasted calls to boycott Israel for the occupation of the West Bank. He called those who support boycotting the Toronto film festival’s decision to showcase Tel Aviv “anti-Semites” and “Jew haters.”

“The world always had anti-Semites,” the Hollywood financier told the Los Angeles Times in an e-mail exchange last month. “It has now and always will, but the people of Israel always have, and always will live and prosper. Sorry Jew haters. You lose.”

Among the artists who signed the petition calling for a boycott of the festival’s Tel Aviv Week in August were Ken Loach, Julie Christie, Danny Glover, David Byrne and Jane Fonda – though Fonda later retracted her decision.

Meanwhile, a number of Hollywood Jews, including Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman, issued a counter-statement in defense of the festival’s decision.

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