LAST WEEK, The Jerusalem Post in its feature pages ran a JTA story about the current furor in the Czech Republic over the construction by Israeli-based Plaza Centers of the Pilsen Mall, a shopping center whose location, it has been revealed recently is on the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery. What the story neglected to mention is that Plaza Centers is a unit of Elbit Medical Imaging Ltd., which is chaired by international property developer Motti Zisser, who has built malls in several parts of eastern and central Europe. The situation would be sufficiently controversial by virtue of the fact that Jews are particularly sensitive to any place, be it hallowed ground or otherwise in which Jews have been buried. But in this case, the controversy is exacerbated by the fact that Zisser is an orthodox Jew, who usually gives priority to religious considerations. How the story will be played out remains to be seen. Suffice to say that Zisser is consulting rabbinical authorities to get a learned opinion and hopefully to find a solution that will enable him to continue with the project which is supposed to become operational some time next year.
HEBREW UNIVERSITY President Prof. Menachem Magidor, took advantage of the presence of Science Culture and Sport Minister Ophir Pines-Paz at a reception that the university hosted in honor of Nobel Prize laureate Roger Kornberg, to make the point that Israel cannot progress scientifically if the government keeps cutting back on funding for scientific research. "Israel has the potential to be a major scientific power," he said, "but cutbacks in budgets for scientific research threaten our ability to be a major scientific player." It is easy to destroy a great scientific institution, he commented. "It is very difficult to rebuild it."
Magidor emphasized that the concentration of scientific effort was essential for Israel's survival. Dean of Science Prof. Hermona Soreq, noted that one of her prize pupils was working in the US, because the infrastructure and research funds that he needs for his work are simply not available in Israel. He is one of many talented Israeli scientists working abroad. "We would like to bring people back here," she said. Voicing a similar desire, Prof. Ioav Cabantchik, professor of biochemistry and biophysics, looked around at the students lining the walls and said: "We want to keep these students with us because they are our real treasure." The sentiment was endorsed by Kornberg who teaches at the Hebrew University four months a year. He had learned a lot from his students, he said, noting: "The reservoir of talent in Israel is extraordinary." Pines-Paz did not try to duck the issue. On the contrary. He saw as one of his central roles, he said, his part as the voice of the scientific community in its appeals to the government. "I will be your lobby," he said, "and I hope to be an influential force on your behalf."
NETANYA ACADEMIC College President Prof. Zvi Arad has announced that some of the students of the college will be able to partially pursue their studies in China. MBA students will be able to interface their studies with a course being offered by Southwest University in China. Students will undertake part of the course in China and part in Israel. Visiting Chinese professors will be teaching the course in Israel. In other NAC news, the college, at the start of the new academic year on Sunday, will enhance its degree courses with the introduction of a study course for a master's degree in law. The course will specialize in commercial and banking law. The NAC's student population numbers 3,500, while faculty staff number 300. NAC's School for Computer Sciences has awarded 30 scholarships to outstanding female students as part of an anti-discrimination program aimed at equalizing opportunities for women in computer studies and ultimately in the work force.
TELDAR CEO Doron Sapir has announced two new appointments. Arnon Dim, 35, has been appointed CRM and outsourcing manager. Dim, who was previously at Orcal, has broad experience in the field of information technology, and is thoroughly familiar with technical infrastructure, programming and solutions. He holds a degree in industrial management from the Haifa Terchnion, an MBA from Tel Aviv University and a law degree from Bar Ilan University. Another new appointment is that of Emanuella Stroll, 37, a computer engineer by profession, who previously managed the information systems at Bezeq International where, prior to that, she had been in charge of CRM.
NORTEL ISRAEL will launch a wireless mesh network, the first of its kind in Israel, in Ariel this Thursday, October 19. The network will allow for mobile Internet access and smart card transactions and connections that will give the municipality much greater leeway and efficiency in its operations. The launch will take place with the participation of Ariel mayor Ron Nachman, Nortel Israel CEO Sorin Lupo and MK Zevulun Orlev, who chairs the Knesset Committee on Science and Technology.
AFTER EIGHT years as President of Koor and chairman of its Makhteshim Agam subsidiary, Dan Biran has announced his intention to step down from both positions. It was anticipated that he would resign from the presidency of Koor after the company was taken over by IDB Holding Corporation, but it was thought that he might continue with Makhteshim Agam. Biran has agreed to stay on till December 31, to give the board of directors time to find a suitable replacement.
UPS GENERAL manager Lior Sagi has been elected chairman of the International Couriers Division of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce. He succeeds DHL general manager David Bondi who held the chairmanship for five years. This is the second time that Sagi was elected to this position. He was previously chairman from 1997-1999. He has been general manager of UPS for 13 years.