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People in the economy / Cellia Shani

 נתניהו וקרי מרץ 2013

Binyamin Netanyahu with John Kerry/ Photo GEO

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One Hundred Prominent American Jews to Netanyahu: “Make Concessions for Peace!

About one hundred heads of Jewish-American organizations sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, calling on him to leverage the success of President Obama’s recent visit to Israel’s and of the arrival of the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to formulate sensible initiatives that will present Israel’s willingness to make concessions and painful territorial sacrifices for the sake of Peace.  Clearly, these leaders see an urgent need to buttress Israel’s image in the U.S.

 Among the letter’s signatories are billionaires Charles Bronfman and Daniel Abrams (owner of the top-selling American diet product Slim-Fast), a former AIPAC Director General, Tom Dayan, a former Undersecretary of Defense Dov Zakheim and the leader of the U.S. Reform movement, Rabbi Rick G. Jacobs.  The letter commends Netanyahu for his leadership and his willingness to apologize to Turkey, which it describes as a confidence-building measure.

The IPF[1] was established following the execution of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and has been rather successful over the years, receiving much publicity, but, following 911 its status declined.  Since last year, the organization’s chairman, Peter Josephs, and its CEO, David Halperin, are making efforts to bring it back to center stage.

Ester Levanon ans Stefan Burgas / Photo Moshe Shay

Ester Levanon and Stefan Burgas / Photo Moshe Shay


King’s Ransom in Royalties

Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL), the second largest conglomerate in Israel, celebrated 20 years of its having been first publicly traded on the Tel Aviv Exchange. The man of the hour, controlling shareholder Idan Ofer, was noticeably absent.  Ofer announced a day earlier that he is considering moving his domicile from Israel to London.

On this occasion Stefan Burgas (48), the company’s CEO since August 2012 made his first public appearance since assuming the position.  Burgess is one of Europe’s better regarded executives. He noted that ICL pays a larger share of royalties than any like company in the world: Over a billion NIS (just over $276, 000, 000) each year, representing 35% of all profits ICL generates in Israel during that annual cycle, with an expectation of increasing it to 45% in the coming years. Additionally, the company also pays out about 2 billion NIS (over $550, 000, 000), indirectly.

Incidentally, Burgas will be the beneficiary a king’s ransom in royalties and other compensation.  He will have an annual salary of $ 2.75 million.  In addition, Bourgas will enjoy a minimum annual bonus of half a million dollars which could exceed $1.25 million. he will also be granted options whose value will be between 2.25-3.75 million.  All in all, just slightly over minimum wage.    Having to carry such loads makes one tired, and twice a year ICL will pay for tickets so that Burgas and his family can vacation and rest.  Burgas will also receive a one-time grant of a measly $100, 000 to cover his moving expenses to Israel.

The contract also includes early notice severance fee equaling six months’ pay, payable to Burgas in the event that he would resign on his own initiative, and a severance fee equaling 12 months’ pay in case his termination is initiated by ICL.

According to Burgas, there are no negotiations being held currently regarding a possible merger with the Canadian corporate giant Potash, but in the same vein he immediately added that such merger would create a stronger company.  The comments were made due to the employees’ apprehension that such a merger will result in layoffs and the transfer of production of potash to neighboring Jordan where Potash maintain production facilities.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid strongly opposes the sale of ICL to Potash, asserting that “the natural resources of ICL are nationally owned.”  Idan Ofer stands to rip huge profits if ICL is sold to Potash.  Well, he would need some spending money in London.


Israeli Cabinet Announce January Election Date

Ehud Barak / Getty

Ehud Barak, Buy me !

The world expresses its confidence that investments of former Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak are intelligent ones – or at least it feels so about one of them.  Following disclosure by Haaretz newspaper that Barak owns shares in a company called Cyalume, who is traded on Wall Street, the stock price shot up by a whopping 57%.

Barak holds nearly 94, 000 of Cyalume shares, representing about 0.5% of the company’s outstanding stocks, his holdings’ current worth is about 250 thousand dollars.

Likewise, Yair Shamir, the son of former Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Shamir, and a fresh member of the current Knesset (Israel’s parliament), who at the time served as one of Cyalume directors, holds approximately 800 thousand shares of the Company, representing approximately 4.4% of its outstanding stocks.

Cyalume specializes in manufacturing chemical products that create light (sticklights) for security forces.  The company ended 2012 with revenues of approximately $ 40 million.  One cannot help but wonder if Barak, as Defense Minister, had some inside information about the company when he purchased its stocks.


נשיא המדינה ביום העצמאות ה-65 2013

Shimon Peres and his guests at the reception / Photo Kobi Gideon

The Pope invited Peres to the Vatican

Israeli President, Shimon Peres, hosted at his official residence the diplomatic and consular corps in the country, who came to congratulate his on the occasion of the 65th Independence Day of the State of Israel.  Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara were in attendance.

The President talked about the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and commended the Prime Minister for his public support of the two states’ solution.  He expressed the sentiment that it’s better to live in peace and good neighborly relationship with another state than to be in a constant quarrel in one state.

He also complimented Prime Minister Netanyahu:  “He did something exceptional when he was elected to serve for a third time in his position.  I know how hard it is to be elected even a single time.”  History buffs might recall that Netanyahu narrowly defeated Peres in 1996, when the former was elected for the first time.

During the event Peres received congratulations from many world leaders.  Among them was the Pope, who invited Peres to come and visit him at the Vatican.  Peres accepted the invitation and will come to greet the new Pope during his up and coming visit to Italy.

 Profesor Bilu

Professor Yoram Bilu

The Lady is 40

The Lady Davis Foundation (Israel), which is named after the late American-born Canadian philanthropist Henriette Marie Meyer (who was better known as Lady Davis), celebrated 40 years of activity, since its establishment.

To date, the foundation has distributed research grants worth more than $12 million. The foundation, throughout the years of its activity in the country, has brought to Israel no less than1800 foreign scientists from around the world, who returned to their home countries as good-will ambassadors for Israel.  It also sponsored 200 Israeli researchers in doing work outside of Israel, one of whom is the current Israeli ambassador to the United States, Dr. Michael Oren.  Another is Prof. Yoram Bilu – a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and renowned psychological anthropologist — who devoted most of his research to understanding the problems of a large segment of the immigrant population of North African descent, and parallel problems among Ashkenazi ultra orthodox Jews. Those studies elucidate well the hardships entailed in the transition from traditional to modern society.  For his contribution to understanding the problems of different cultures’ convergence, he was awarded the Israel Prize for Sociology in 2013.






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