1. MARK ZUCKERBERG
chief executive officer and president Mark Zuckerberg, 27, has
certainly been a man in the news this year. The world’s most popular
social networking site on the Internet has been credited with helping to
propel the revolts across the Arab world by spreading the word about
planned protests, particularly in Egypt.
On his own Facebook
page, Zuckerberg lists his personal interests as “openness, making
things that help people connect and share what’s important to them,
revolutions, information flow, minimalism.” Although he was raised
Jewish, Zuckerberg considers himself an atheist.
He was the subject of a successful Hollywood film titled The Social Network, although he strongly rejected his portrayal in the movie as a devious egotist.
Among other things, the film won the Golden Globes prize for Best Picture, and picked up three awards at the Oscars.
has also been the subject of several lawsuits, and won a significant
one recently when US judges ruled against an attempt by the Winklevoss
twins, Tyler and Cameron, who studied with him at Harvard, to cancel
their $56 million settlement with Zuckerberg.
Facebook have called Paul Ceglia’s federal lawsuit claiming part
ownership of the company “a fraud,” and accused him of doctoring a 2003
contract he says proves that he brought 50 percent of Zuckerberg’s idea
for the site, also when he was studying at Harvard University.
According to the latest Forbes list of the world’s richest people this year, seven billionaires made a fortune from Facebook into the super-rich club.
Zuckerberg leads the pack at No. 52, and is said to be worth $13.5 billion, up from $4b. last year. Zuckerberg was named by Time
magazine as its Person of the Year last year. He joined Bill Gates and
Warren Buffett at the end of 2010 in signing the “Giving Pledge,” in
which they pledged to donate at least half of their wealth to charity.
Interview with Yuli Edelstein - 'Shaping Israel’s image in the world'
2. BINYAMIN NETANYAHU
the nature and stature of the office, more even than the personality of
the person who holds it, that makes the prime minister of Israel the
most influential Jew in the world.
And Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, 61, like all those who preceded him, is well aware of that awesome responsibility.
great rabbi – an Adin Steinsaltz – may influence the spiritual side of
our people; a great Jewish cultural icon – a Philip Roth – may impact on
the world’s intellectual milieu; a great Jewish politician – an Eric
Cantor – may impact on the political life of one country or the next.
But only the Israeli prime minister has the ability to make decisions
that are, literally, fateful to the Jewish people: life-and- death
decisions; to-be-or-not-to-be decisions.
“Even at the nadir of
the valley of death, we never lost hope and we never lost our dream of
reestablishing a sovereign state in our ancient homeland, the Land of
Israel,” Netanyahu said in the White House Oval Office two weeks ago to
US President Barack Obama. “And now it falls on my shoulders as the
prime minister of Israel at a time of extraordinary instability and
uncertainty in the Middle East to work with you to fashion a peace that
will ensure Israel’s security and will not jeopardize its survival.
take this responsibility with pride but with great humility, because,
as I told you in our conversation, we don’t have a lot of margin for
error and because, Mr. President, history will not give the Jewish
people another chance.”
Netanyahu was not exaggerating the extent of his responsibility. What he didn’t amplify was the scope of his influence.
3. SHERYL SANDBERG
Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
Sandberg, 41, is the chief operating officer of Facebook. She
previously served as vice president of global online sales and
operations at Google, and helped launch Google’s philanthropic arm,
Google.org. Sandberg also served as chief of staff for Treasury chief
Lawrence Summers in the Clinton administration.
met Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, at a Christmas
party in 2007. Zuckerberg was reportedly impressed immediately by
Sandberg, and although he had not formally searched for a COO, he
considered her “a perfect person for this role.”
They spent time
together in January 2008 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and in
March of that year Facebook announced that Sandberg would be its first
chief operating officer, hiring her away from Google. At Facebook,
Sandberg oversees the company’s business operations, including sales,
marketing, business development, human resources, public policy and
According to Forbes, Sandberg has “overhauled Facebook and helped make it the most popular social network in cyberspace.”
website of Radio Islam calls her the “Jewish second-in-command of
Facebook” who “reports directly to Facebook’s Jewish CEO Mark
4. EHUD BARAK
his surprise surrender of his leadership of the Labor Party to set up
an independent new faction in the Knesset called Atzmaut (Independence)
in January, Barak, 69, remains a key member of Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s cabinet and one of his closest advisers.
As a former
military chief and Israel’s most decorated soldier, not only is he Mr.
Security, in charge of the country’s security establishment, but he has
also been involved in diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians via
He is not a popular politician, but continues to be
widely respected across the political spectrum both here and abroad as a
military genius who is capable of thinking out of the box and making
surprise moves, both diplomatically and militarily.
considered left of center, he is a strong advocate of a diplomatic
solution with the Palestinians, but at the same time backs Netanyahu’s
hard line on security issues.
He is also a strong opponent of Iran’s current regime and its nuclear aspirations.
am not sure that this regime will be in power 10 years from now," Barak
told a conference in Tel Aviv earlier this year. “I can also not rule
out the possibility that in a year from now, an opposition group like
the Green Movement will lead a new revolution. But we cannot count on
5. BENNY GANTZ
Chief of General Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz took up his post as the IDF’s 20th chief of
General Staff in mid- February he found a Middle East completely
different from the one his predecessor Gabi Ashkenazi had met when he
took office four years earlier.
When Ashkenazi took office,
Hezbollah was still rebuilding itself from the damage Israel had
inflicted upon it during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Earlier this
year it effectively took over Lebanon with a military force stronger
than ever and with more firepower than 90 percent of the countries
around the world.
When Ashkenazi took office in 2007,
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were moving ahead at full throttle.
Today, there is a complete disconnect. In 2007, Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak’s regime was strong and stable and Israel Air Force fighter
jets flew regularly in Turkish airspace. Today, Mubarak’s regime is
history and the thought of the IAF returning to train in Turkey seems
almost like a fairy tale.
Gantz, 52, entered the post at a time
when the unknown is greater than the known. The difficulty is preparing
the IDF for challenges – from Iran’s nuclear program to Palestinians
infiltrating into the Golan Heights – that are not clear or even easily
What Gantz has going for him is his confidence and
coolheaded demeanor as well as his unchallenged authority. His
experience – he has already served in four positions on the General
Staff – makes him best suited today to confront the threats Israel will
face over the coming years.
6. MEIR DAGAN
Former Mossad director
Dagan doesn’t look it, but until recently he was one of the most feared
men in the Middle East. As head of the Mossad from 2002 until this
year, Dagan succeeded in restoring the spy agency’s lost prestige,
overseeing – according to foreign reports – dozens of assassinations and
various missions across the world.
In a hard-hitting address at Tel Aviv University last week, Dagan lashed out at the current Israeli leadership.
feel obligated to express my opinion on certain matters. The prime
minister and defense minister are the ones in charge, but sometimes good
sense and good decision-making don’t have anything to do with being
elected, he said. “There is no responsibility, no vision, no wisdom.”
the 66-year-old Dagan was replaced by Tamir Pardo as head of the Mossad
six months ago, his influence over the region has yet to wane.
is credited with overseeing the 2008 assassination of Hezbollah
arch-terrorist Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, of Hamas arms smuggler Ali
Mahmoud Mabhouh in Dubai, of Syrian general Mohammed Suleiman in Tartus
as well as a slew of Iranian scientists. But most importantly, Dagan
will be remembered as the man who fought hard to delay Iran’s nuclear
While Iran is still on track to obtain the bomb, every
year that goes by is a year that the world did not think it had, and a
lot of this is believed to be to the credit of Dagan and the Mossad.
tone for Dagan’s tenure was set by the way he decorated his office. On
the wall of his modest Tel Aviv office is a black-and-white picture of
an old bearded Jewish man, wearing a tallit as he kneels in front of two
Nazi soldiers, one with a stick in his hand, the other carrying a rifle
slung over his shoulder.
“Look at this picture,” Dagan would
tell visitors to his office. “This man, kneeling down before the Nazis,
was my grandfather just before he was murdered. I look at this picture
every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”
7. DENNIS ROSS
Ross is like a phoenix who has risen from the ashes of failed peace
processes past to once again perch atop the Washington pecking order of
Middle East advisers. Ross, 62, who served as director of policy
planning at the State Department in the George H.W. Bush administration
and then Middle East envoy for Bill Clinton, was considered out for the
count after the implosion of the Oslo process.
But then he helped
Barack Obama shore up the Jewish vote on the presidential campaign
trail in 2008 and was tapped for a position as an adviser on Iran. That
led to a top White House spot, as the president’s special assistant
dealing with Middle East policy writ large, which has brought him to the
front lines of the battles over US policy toward Israel and the
Though by all accounts he has more often than not
found himself on the opposite side of the other chief players, most of
his adversaries have dropped out of the administration. National
Security Adviser Jim Jones left last year and George Mitchell, who had
filled Ross’s shoes as Middle East envoy in the Obama administration,
called it quits just weeks ago.
As the last man standing, Ross’s
accumulated Middle East wisdom and policy positions have more impact
than even before, though he and the key figure making Middle East policy
– Obama himself – might not always see eye to eye.
8. BEN BERNANKE Chairman of the US Federal Reserve
Bernanke, 57, holds the purse strings in the US. He has been criticized
for failing to forecast that country’s financial crisis, but praised
for captaining the American economy through an exceptionally stormy
period, earning the respect of economists and politicians alike.
He was named by Time magazine as its Person of the Year in 2009.
began his second term as chairman of the Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve System on February 1, 2010, after being confirmed by
President Barack Obama, and his term is due to end on January 31, 2014.
He is a strong proponent of reducing the US budget deficit.
recent financial crisis revealed critical gaps and weaknesses in the US
financial system and the financial regulatory framework,” he said in an
address in Chicago in May. “We are committed to working closely with
the oversight council and other agencies to promote financial
Bernanke, whose middle name is Shalom, reportedly
helped roll Torah scrolls in his local synagogue when growing up in
Dillon, South Carolina, but these days he keeps his religion very much
9. STANLEY FISCHER
Governor, Bank of Israel
Fischer, 67, who grew up in southern Africa and was educated in the UK
and US, is considered a top economist internationally. He has been
listed as a top candidate to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing
director of the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn, who featured
on our list last year of influential Jews, resigned last month after
being arrested in New York City and charged with the sexual assault of a
hotel maid. Nominations will be accepted until June 10.
Although not ruling out the possibility of his filling the position, Fischer said he thoroughly enjoys his current job.
“I will say this: I really love this job. We’ll see what happens,” he said in an address at Ben-Gurion University.
a career in academia, he became an Israeli citizen and was appointed
governor of the Bank of Israel in 2005, beginning a second term last
Fischer has steered the Israeli economy on a steady course
following the global financial crisis, and was given an “A” rating on
the Central Banker Report Card published by Global Finance magazine. In
September 2009, the Bank of Israel was the first bank in the developed
world to raise its interest rate, and he has raised the rate to 3
percent so far this year.
In a policy speech in Mumbai earlier
this year, he said that “in a crisis, central bankers (and no doubt
other policymakers) will often find themselves implementing policy
actions that they never thought they would have to undertake and… would
prefer not to have to undertake.” Hence his advice to all central
bankers, he said, was “Never say never!”
Last year, he was named Central Bank Governor of the Year by Euromoney
magazine, and under his direction, the Bank of Israel was ranked the
top central bank in the world for its efficient functioning, according
to the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook.
10. YULI EDELSTEIN
Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
if the State of Israel had no external image problem, Israel-Diaspora
relations would be a priority for the Israeli government, said Yuli
Edelstein, the Jewish state’s minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora
“The Jewish communities are very eager to participate in
this effort, not only because they support the State of Israel but
because they understand that we are inextricably linked,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at his office in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood.