1. MARK ZUCKERBERG
Facebook CEO

Facebook 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.

He 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.

Lawyers for 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.

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2. BINYAMIN NETANYAHU
Prime minister


Prime Minister Binyamin NetanyahuIt’s 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.

A 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.

“I 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


Sheryl 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.

Ironically, she 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 communications.

According to Forbes, Sandberg has “overhauled Facebook and helped make it the most popular social network in cyberspace.”

The website of Radio Islam calls her the “Jewish second-in-command of Facebook” who “reports directly to Facebook’s Jewish CEO Mark Zuckerberg.”


4. EHUD BARAK
Defense minister

Despite 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 US mediation.

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.

Still 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.

“I 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 this.”

5. BENNY GANTZ
Chief of General Staff


When 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 identified.

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


Meir DaganMeir 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.

“I 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.”

While 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.

He 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 program.

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.

The 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
Obama adviser


Dennis 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 Palestinians.

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

Ben 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.

Bernanke 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.

“The 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 stability.”

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 to himself.


9. STANLEY FISCHER
Governor, Bank of Israel


Stanley 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.

After 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 May.

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

Even 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 Affairs.

“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.

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