The story is told, in several cultural variations, of a Jewish man spotting a friend reading an Arabic newspaper. “Moshe, have you lost your mind?” he says.
“Well, I used to read the Jewish papers, but what did I find?” Moshe replies. “Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation, Jews living in poverty. So I switched to an Arab newspaper. Now what do I find? Jews own the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!”
In what is planned as an annual media event, The Jerusalem Post has chosen the world’s leading 50 Jewish “movers and shakers” based on a range of criteria, including personal access to power, ability to exert influence and individual talent.
The Post’s list of the 50 most influential Jews in the world was not designed to feed the anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews control the world. Nor should it be construed as a source of religious or national pride, because while those on the list all identify themselves as Jews, Judaism and Israel are not necessarily central to their careers.
The candidates were chosen from all walks of life for their ability to fashion the face of the future. Many hold positions of power or prestige, while others are prominent personalities who exert extraordinary influence in Israel, the Jewish world or on the wider world stage.
They include an impressive array of high-powered politicians and business executives, top bankers and hi-tech giants, revered rabbis and media moguls as well as thinkers, musicians, movie makers, artists, writers, trend-setters, sports people and comedians.
We sought a good mix of Israelis and non-Israelis, religious and secular, figures from across the political spectrum, men and women. We warmly congratulate those on the list, and thank those who responded to being chosen.
To those who were excluded, either deliberately or unwittingly, we apologize. We omitted New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, for example, because although his mother is Jewish, he identifies himself as agnostic – and, with respect, how important is Wellington on the world map?
Our list is headed by Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has become well known around the world for his political dexterity and eloquence in English. Heading a relatively stable coalition, his actions on the diplomatic track over the next year will inevitably have an enormous impact not only on the troubled Middle East but on the Jewish world at large.
In his response to being chosen by The Jerusalem Post and our Internet readership around the world on jpost.com as the most influential Jew in the world, Netanyahu told our reporter, Herb Keinon: “The fact that the Prime Minister of the State of Israel is viewed as being the world’s most influential Jew is a historic vindication of the miracle of Zionism.”
It may be no historic accident that the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, Barack Obama, recently approved a second term for Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve chairman, and chose Jews to be his closest advisers: Rahm Emanuel, the tough White House chief of staff, David Axelrod, his savvy political adviser and Dan Shapiro, the top Middle East expert on the National Security Council.
He also happens to be friendly with several Jewish leaders, including Alan Solow and Lee Rosenberg, who are both on our list.
Second on the list is Bernanke, the man who holds the purse strings of the richest nation on the planet and is credited with steering the US out of a severe financial crisis. He is followed by Emanuel, who arguably has the most influence on the American president – and certainly has his ear whenever he needs it.
AS WE CELEBRATE Shavuot, when the Jewish people received the Torah
on Mount Sinai from Moses, the most famous Jew in history, we can only
pray that those on our list use their influence to better the world and
help Israel and the Jewish people serve as a light unto the nations.
is on Shavuot that we read the Book of Ruth, perhaps the most famous
convert in the Bible. Ruth’s acceptance of Judaism is based on her
acceptance of the Torah, and King David is believed to be her
great-grandson. Jewish tradition has it that David, one of the greatest
figures in the Bible, was born and died on Shavuot.
two of our top 50 personalities are named Ruth – Judge Ruth Bader
Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, and Prof. Ruth
Arnon, a renowned Israeli biochemist credited with developing a drug
against multiple sclerosis.
Considering their small numbers, Jews
have fared disproportionately well in lists of the world’s most
powerful and richest people, as well as in Nobel Prizes.
world Jewish population is estimated at being 02. percent of the total
populace – some 13.5 million, with just over 5.7 million in Israel, 5.6
million in the US, half a million in Russia and France, 280,000 in the
UK and 200,000 in Germany.
Yet in Vanity
’s latest list of the 100 most powerful people in the
world, 51 are Jews. Ten of the 50 people on this year’s Forbes’ annual
billionaires list are Jewish. Of the 802 Nobel prizes handed out to
date, 162 have gone to Jews.
In Michael H. Hart’s book,
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in
, seven are Jews.
Jews have also featured
prominently on Time
’s annual list of the world’s 100
most influential people, and in 1999, the magazine named Albert Einstein
person of the century.
IN A SHORT story by Philip Roth, a talent
scout sends a letter to Einstein proposing that the renowned scientist
host a weekly radio show to help reduce anti-Semitism.
like them to know that the genius of all time is a Jew,” he writes. “The
world must know and soon... that when it comes to smart, we are the
Four years ago, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt shook
the Jewish world by writing a paper, The Israel Lobby and U.S.
, on what they perceived as the exaggerated
influence of the Jewish lobby.
After being named by the pair as a
key member of the media wing of the Israel lobby, Mortimer Zuckerman – a
former head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
Organizations – replied sardonically: “I would just say this: The
allegations of this disproportionate influence of the Jewish community
remind me of the 92-year-old man sued in a paternity suit. He said he
was so proud, he pleaded guilty.”
Asked by reporter Greer Fay
Cashman for his response on being chosen for our list, President Shimon
Peres said that he tells both religious and non-religious Jews that the
best example to follow is that of the Rambam (Maimonides), “who was
great in his Jewishness and great in medicine without one contradicting
How much influence do Jews wield in the world, and
how influential are those on our list? We leave you to judge.
1. Binyamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister of Israel
Serving his second year in his second term,
Netanyahu, 60, is the first
premier to have been born after the state’s creation. Netanyahu has
arguably gone further than any of his predecessors in easing the plight
of Palestinians in the West Bank and freezing settlement construction.
In his seminal Bar-Ilan University speech last year, the Likud leader
accepted the idea of a Palestinian state for the first time, and is
currently overseeing proximity talks with the Palestinians that he hopes
to galvanize toward a final settlement to the Middle East conflict.
Netanyahu’s ratings soared this month as Israel was accepted to be a
member of the OECD.
The fact that the Prime Minister of the State of Israel is viewed today
as being the world’s most influential Jew demonstrates the historic
change that Zionism has brought about in the condition of the Jewish
A scattered, powerless people has been able to reassert its national
life in its own sovereign state, in its ancestral homeland. From being
mere spectators on the international stage, today the Jews control their
own destiny and have returned as a people to the family of nations.
Free, democratic and able to defend itself against threats and
adversity, Israel doesn’t just survive, it flourishes. Today, within the
State of Israel, the creativity and genius of the Jewish people are
bursting forth in every area: in science; in technology; in
entrepreneurship; in medicine; in the arts.
When Israel was established in 1948, only some 5% of the world’s Jewish
population lived in the new state. Today, Israel contains the largest
Jewish community in the world.
This honor awarded to the Prime Minister of the Jewish State is a
testament to the profound transformation that has occurred in the
reality of life for the Jewish People over the last 62 years.
2. Ben BernankeThe chairman of the US
In announcing his second term until
2014, President Obama said Bernanke’s background, temperament, courage
and creativity helped prevent another Great Depression.
named him person of the year last year.
Bernanke, 56, wrote his doctoral thesis at MIT in 1979 on “Long-term
commitments, dynamic optimization, and the business cycle” and his
thesis adviser was none other than Stanley Fischer, the current governor
of the Bank of Israel. 3. Rahm
House chief of staff.
Emanuel is believed by some
critics to be a key player in Barack Obama’s more critical stance on
Israel – an adviser with the expertise to strongly influence the
president. He is believed by others to be a crucial bulwark, limiting
His father, an Israeli doctor,
caused a stir by telling Ma’ariv
appointment by President Obama: “Obviously, he’ll influence the
president to be pro-Israel. Why wouldn’t he? What is he, an Arab?” Known
as a tough guy, Emanuel flew to Israel as a volunteer during the first
Iraq war and is said to be the model for Josh Lyman on the popular TV
series, “The West Wing.”4.
Sergey BrinFounder of Google
Together with Larry Page, whose
maternal grandmother was Jewish, the Russian-born Brin founded Google,
the world’s largest Internet company, and they are often referred to as
the “Google Guys.” Brin, 36, and Page, 37, met at Stanford, where they
suspended their doctoral studies to start up Google in a rented garage. The
calls Brin an “Enlightenment Man” who believes that
“knowledge is always good, and certainly always better than ignorance”
and in the Google mantra, “Don’t be evil!” (Board chairman Eric Schmidt
famously quipped that “Evil is whatever Sergey says is evil.”) The duo
have visited Israel several times, once for the 80th birthday of Shimon
Peres.5. Shai AgassiFounder of Better Place
42, has become a pioneer in alternative energy under the auspices of
the company he founded in 2007.
After being endorsed by the
Israeli government in 2008, Better Place has negotiated contracts on
electric cars with more than two dozen countries. The Israeli
entrepeneur was named by Time
as the world’s most
influential businessman in 2003 and one of its 100 most influential
people last year.6. Dominique
Strauss-KahnHead of the International Monetary Fund
61, was professor of economics at the University of Paris, where he
obtained his doctorate, and became a member of parliament for the
Socialist Party in 1986. He was chosen as managing director of the
International Monetary Fund in 2007 and is expected to run for president
of France in 2012.
The IMF played a key role in the recent
European decision to pass a trillion-dollar plan to aid Greece.7. Shimon PeresPresident of Israel
who is 86, arguably wields more power and prestige than any of his
predecessors. After a career marked by controversy and confrontation, in
which he gained the reputation of being a serial loser, Peres has
finally emerged as a consensus figure admired not only by the outside
world but by the majority of Israelis too.
He maintains a more
than correct relationship with the prime minister, who appreciates the
international credibility and access offered by the Nobel peace
laureate, even as he asserts a greater Palestinian willingness for
compromise than Binyamin Netanyahu believes exists. Peres responds:
“I would like to
discover ways to enter the New Age while being Jewish and modern at the
same time. Traveling is not such a big deal today, and I imagine that
many of the Jewish people who do not live in Israel can develop a way of
life which they can share in two places. I would like to see a Jewish
lifestyle which on the one hand is as old as the Ten Commandments and on
the other is as modern as nanotechnology.” 8. David Axelrod
White House Adviser
Barack Obama’s top political adviser helps the president craft and
communicate his policy, and calmed tempers during the latest spat
between the US and Israel.
Before entering the White House, Axelrod, 55, was a political writer for
the Chicago Tribune
and founded AKP&D Message
and Media. He managed Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008.
In an Israel Independence Day address in Washington this year, Axelrod
said: “Let’s not confuse the occasional dispute over policy with the
fundamental relationship that has guided our two nations for so long and
will continue to guide our two nations.”Axelrod responds:
“My father was a Jewish immigrant who fled the pogroms and came to America in search of freedom and opportunity. I carry the memory of my family's miraculous journey with me every day.”
9. Alan DershowitzLaw professor, Israel advocate
71, is an internationally respected jurist who has served as an
attorney in several high-profile cases, including that of OJ Simpson. At
28, he became the youngest law professor in Harvard’s history. Married
to a psychologist from Israel, Dershowitz has become famous for his
eloquent advocacy for Israel and commentary on the Middle East conflict.Dershowitz responds:
My career has
generally been reactive to where I think the great crises of human
rights are, and the unfair attacks. So in the 60s I was very active in
the civil rights movement. I went down south. I spent my time defending
lots of African Americans and other discriminated-against groups. Then
in the late 60s and 70s I was very active in the anti-war, ant-Vietnam
movement, defending lots of people who were prosecuted for their views
on Vietnam – the Pentagon Papers case, the Chicago Seven case, those
cases. In the mid-70s, I turned my attention to Soviet dissidents and
Soviet Jews, because they were the ones who were mostly in need. And
then when the world started to really turn against Israel, and
particularly when the hard left started to turn so heavily against
Israel, it was perfectly consistent with my career and my commitment to
human rights to turn to Israel. The case against Israel has increased
both in the court of public opinion and real courts. So I suspect I will
be spending more and more time in Israel. 10. Elena KaganUS Supreme
Kagan, 50, is the first woman to be
solicitor general of the US, and has just been named as Barack Obama’s
nominee to the Supreme Court, where she would become the third woman and
third Jew to sit on the court. Kagan, a liberal Democrat, was formerly
the dean of the prestigious Harvard Law School and a professor at the
University of Chicago, as well as serving as associate White House
counsel under Bill Clinton.
A Democrat and supporter of Obama,
she is capable of swinging the court to the left, while making key
judicial decisions on the freedom of religion and choice.11. Alan SolowChairman of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
55, is a charismatic Jewish leader, top Chicago lawyer and friend of
President Barack Obama.Tablet Magazine
him “the Go-Between” – the putative spokesman for American Jewry played a
key role in resolving the recent crisis between the US and Israel.Solow responds:
“This recognition by he Jerusalem Post
in reality reflects the critical role played by the Conference, especially during a time period when we have seen transitions in the leadership of both the United States and Israel. Our goal as always, whether working publicly or in private (and we do both), is to promote the strongest possible relationship between two democratic allies. We have also been extremely active in raising public awareness and urging swift action to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. To the extent that my work has made a contribution to these efforts, I am delighted. In my capacity as Conference Chair, I often interact with senior American and Israeli officials, and I have had the opportunity to meet with President Obama and advocate directly to him. I am pleased to report that our access to government officials in the United States and Israel is excellent.
It is certainly humbling to be included in such outstanding company. Moving forward, we will work relentlessly to make certain that a clear Jewish voice is heard where policy is made and implemented.”12. Ehud BarakDefense Minister
68, in his second term, has proved to be an adept diplomat and master
strategist. He is involved not only in safeguarding Israel from its
enemies, including Iran, but in the diplomatic process with the
Palestinians and Arab states as well. He is arguably the most senior
Israeli minister with whom the Obama administration is most comfortable,
being perceived as relatively dovish, capable, worldly and calm.13. Irwin CotlerCanadian MP, human rights
Cotler, 70, is a member of the Canadian
Parliament for the Liberal Party and a former justice minister and
attorney general. He was previously a professor of law at McGill
University and the director of its Human Rights Program, becoming an
expert in international and human rights law.
A staunch defender
of Israel from a human rights vantage point, and a very frequent
visitor here, he is widely credited with having influenced Canada’s
current supportive stance on the Jewish state.14. Michael BloombergMayor of New York
68, founder of the Bloomberg media company, successfully campaigned to
change the law and win a third term as mayor last year. As mayor, he is
currently having to deal with an apparent renewal of terrorism in the
city. Listed by Forbes
as the eighth richest person
in the US, Bloomberg declines to receive a city salary, accepting
remuneration of $1 annually for his services. 15. Bernard KouchnerForeign
Although he is currently serving
in a right-wing government, the French foreign minister was previously
considered a center-left politician. Kouchner, 70, was a co-founder of
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
forefront of the international struggle against Iran’s nuclear program,
he once stated that while France was committed to a diplomatic
resolution and that no military action was planned, an Iranian nuclear
weapon would pose “a real danger for the whole world.”16. Gabi AshkenaziIDF Chief
of General Staff
The 56-year-old IDF chief is
credited with restoring pride in the military and has a good
relationship with his US counterpart, Michael Mullen, who awarded him
the prestigious Legion of Merit.
He emphasized a quiet
back-to-basics approach in the IDF that saw it fight far more
effectively in Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in 2008-9 than it had
in the Second Lebanon War against Hizbullah in 2006.17. Stanley FischerBank of
The 66-year-old Bank of Israel
governor, who began a second five-year term this year, is credited with
stabilizing Israel’s economy during the international financial crisis.
He has also maintained a relationship
with his former protégé,
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, that has helped
enable Palestinian economic growth of some 10 percent in the
Bank over the past year.18.
Avigdor LiebermanForeign Minister
Soviet-born foreign minister, 51, is a key player in Middle East peace
negotiations. As the founder and leader of the Israel Beiteinu Party, he
believes that all Israeli citizens should have to sign a loyalty oath.
is currently being investigated by police for alleged corruption, but
has a huge political following, especially among FSU immigrants and on
the Right.19. Sheldon AdelsonEntrepreneur
The wealthy American casino
king, 76, is a big supporter of the Republican Party and Israel, and has
been a key philanthropic funder behind Yad Vashem, Birthright and other
causes. The owner of Israel’s biggest free daily, Yisrael Hayom, which,
while derided by critics of the prime minister as a “Bibiton” – a
slavishly pro-Netanyahu publication – has diversified and revolutionized
the Hebrew tabloid market.20.
Dorit BeinischSupreme Court President
68, is the first woman to serve as president of the Supreme Court. In
her judicial rulings, Beinisch has focused on combating government
corruption and ensuring that state institutions and security services
follow the law. In a landmark ruling ten years ago, she said corporal
punishment by parents is “forbidden,” because it infringes on the
child’s rights and harms his dignity as a human being.21. Natan SharanskyJewish
As chairman of the Jewish Agency,
the 62-year-old former prisoner of Zion now heads the largest Jewish NGO
in the world. After trying his hand in politics, forming the Israel
Ba’aliya political party and serving as a cabinet minister, Sharansky is
currently spearheading a campaign to reform the Jewish Agency and focus
on Jewish identity. He is also introducing a plan to hand out Jewish
Nobel prizes.22. Ruth Bader
GinsburgUS Supreme Court Justice
Ginsburg, 67, is the first Jewish woman to be a jusice of the US
Supreme Court, and the second woman. An associate justice, she is
considered part of the liberal wing of the court. In her previous career
as a law professor, she became an outspoken advocate for women’s
rights. In a 2009 New York Times
interview, in which
she said regarding abortion that “the basic thing is that the
government has no business making that choice for a woman.”23. Mark ZuckerbergFacebook
The 36-year-old American entrepreneur who
five years ago co-founded the massively popular social networking site,
Facebook with three other Harvard students, one of whom, Dustin
Moskovitz was also Jewish. Three years ago, Microsoft (whose CEO, Steve
Ballmer, is also Jewish) bought a 1.6% stake to Microsoft Corp. for
$240 million. A film about Facebook is due to be released this year.24. Moshe KantorEJC President
president of the European Jewish Congress, Kantor this month opened the
Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv
University. The center will study existing legislation on anti-Semitism
in Europe and draft an “ideal law” for combating the growing phenomenon.Kantor responds:
“I am honored to
be in a position where I can advocate for European Jewish interests and
the State of Israel amongst senior political, religious and influential
figures in Europe and beyond. This is a testament to the re-ascendancy
of European Jewry on the Diaspora world stage. It is my firm belief that
the influence and significance of European Jewry will only continue to
rise, as will its role of support for the state, people and government
of Israel in a continent where understanding of the challenges that
Israel faces is sometimes lacking. Also, because of our history, I am
convinced that Jews need to play a more prominent role in achieving
greater tolerance in Europe. As the President of the European Jewish
Congress and Chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and
Reconciliation, an organization of elder European statesmen, I assist in
preparing practical recommendations for governments and international
organisations to improve interreligious and interethnic relations on the
continent.” 25. Michael
SteinhardtInvestor and philanthropist
59-year-old New York investor is a big political donor in the US,
giving to both the Democrats and Republicans. Steinhardt, who owns a
home in Jerusalem, is better known here for sponsoring the Birthright
Israel program together with Charles Bronfman.Steinhardt responds:
I am honored,
and I hope in the coming years I can merit this honor. I have devoted so
much of my life, especially over the last 15 years, to the Jewish
future and I think I’m stuck with that preoccupation for the foreseeable
future. 26. Mortimer ZuckermanPublisher
72, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations, is the owner of the New York Daily News and U.S.
News & World Report and co-founder of Boston Properties. He is a
strong supporter of Israel and Jewish causes. 27. Ronald Lauder WJC President
President of the World Jewish Congress and son of Esthee
Lauder, the 66-year-old Lauder, is a wealthy businessman who is a strong
support of the Republican Party in the US and the Likud in Israel. In
the past, he has mediated contacts between Prime Minister Netanyahu and
Syrian President Assad. Last month published an open letter to President
Obama urging the administration to "end our public feud with Israel."28. Larry EllisonOracle founder
The 65-year-old magnate who
founded and is CEO of the world’s second largest software company,
Oracle, is listed by The Marker
as the world’s
richest Jew, and by Forbes as the sixth richest person in the world.
a visit to Israel three years ago, he praised the country’s
intellectual talent and hi-tech achievements, and related how excited he
had been to watch Israeli jets fly over Auschwitz – signalling that the
Holocaust would never happen again.
Arnon, currently the Paul Ehrlich Professor of Immunology at the
Weizmann Institute of Science and vice president of the Israel Academy
of Sciences and Humanities, is a veteran biochemist and codeveloper of
the multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone. It is one of the few medications
invented in Israel, and is manufactured and sold by Teva, the world’s
largest generic medicine company.30. Elie Wiesel Writer
Wiesel, now 81, is the world’s
most famous living Holocaust survivor, having written 57 books and won a
Nobel Prize. In April, Wiesel took out full-page ads in US newspapers
defending the Jewish rights to Jerusalem, and later dined with President
Obama in an attempt to defuse the tension they caused.31. Steven
famous film maker, who is now 63, has won three Academy awards,
including the epic Schindler’s List
about how German
businessman Oskar Schindler saved over 1,000 Jews during the Second
World War. He has also established a historically important Holocaust
film and video archive.32.
Rabbi Jonathan SacksChief Rabbi, UK
chief rabbi of the British Commonwealth was knighted in 2005, and is
well respected in the UK as an articulate leader and spokesman of the
Jewish community. He has also written several best-selling books, one of
which – The Dignity of Difference
– was awarded the
Grawemeyer Award for Religion.33.
Jeff ZuckerCEO of NBC Universal
and CEO of NBC Universal, the premier television network in the US for
the past three years. New York Times
Maureen Dowd wrote that in Hollywood “there has been a single topic of
discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the
fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling?” Many of Hollywood’s honchos
are Jewish, including executives from CBS, Walt Disney, Warner Brothers,
News Corp., Sony Pictures Chairman and CBS, whose CEO, Leslie Moonves
is a great-nephew of David Ben-Gurion.34. Joseph Lieberman
Connecticut senator still commands respect in Washington as a straight
shooter and an ardent supporter of Israel. Despite backing John McCain
in the 2008 elections, Lieberman maintained his chairmanship of the
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs,
apparently with the support of President Obama.35. Eric CantorUS
The Virginia representative is
currently serving as Republican whip, and is the only Jewish Republican
in Congress. An ardent backer of Israel, he has co-sponsored legislation
to cut off all US taxpayer aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it
stops unauthorized excavations on the Temple Mount.36. Lee RosenbergPresident of AIPAC
53, is a leading Chicago venture capitalist with long-standing ties to
Barack Obama. A jazz veteran and venture capitalist, he this year became
president of the most influential pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC.
reported that Rosenberg, according to
more than a dozen friends, is a master at building relationships with
Rosenberg accompanied Barack Obama during his
trip to Israel before becoming president and helped him during his
presidential campaign, but didn’t refrain from reprimanding the US for
its treatment of Israel during the recent dispute over east Jerusalem
housing. 37. Richard GoldstoneInternational jurist
an internationally renowned jurist and former South African judge,
created a storm of protest in the Jewish world after his report last
year as head of the UN Human Rights Council mission on the Gaza conflict
in which he charged Israel (and Hamas) with alleged war crimes.
year, he again became the subject of controversy after Yediot
published a report showing that, as an appellate
judge in apartheid South Africa, he sanctioned death sentences against
28 black men.
Today, Goldstone is a board member of several NGOs
that promote justice and human rights, including Human Rights Watch, and
is a trustee of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.38. Thomas FriedmanColumnist
is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist whose column in
The New York Times
has a huge readership.
column this year in the midst of the US-Israel spat over east Jerusalem
housing, he wrote that while “President Barack Obama was 100 percent
right to call out Israel on its settlement expansion... he also needs
his own clear strategy to exploit the opportunities inherent in this
moment.”39. Haim Saban Media
The Israeli American media mogul is one of
the largest donors to the Democratic Party, supporting Hillary Clinton
in the last election. He is also a staunch backer of Israel, telling
The New York Times
once: “I’m a one-issue guy and my
issue is Israel.”40. Jeremy
Street Executive Director
Ben-Ami is executive director
of J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel lobby group in the US which endorses
and raises money for federal candidates. After initially being shunned
by the government, Ben-Ami recently had a reconciliatory meeting with
Ambassador Michael Oren and brought a large delegation to Israel that
met President Peres and other leaders. 41. Shari ArisonBank of Hapoalim owner
owner of Bank Hapoalim is Israel’s wealthiest citizen and listed by
Forbes as the richest woman in the Middle East. Last year, she sponsored
a “Good Deeds Day” which inspired Israelis to volunteer to perform
mitzvot across the country.42.
Simone Veil French politician
83, is a Holocaust survivor who became a respected French lawyer and
politician. She previously served as president of the European
Parliament and was inducted into the Academie Francaise this year.43. Irving MoskowitzUS tycoon,
The Florida-based tycoon is
considered the leading supporter of Jewish construction in east
Jerusalem and hands out a prize for Zionism to settler leaders.44. Gill Marcus
Bank Governor, South Africa
former ANC activist now serves as governor of the South African Reserve
Bank - the first woman to hold the position.45. Bernard-Henri LévyPhilosopher
French philosopher and one of the leaders of the Nouvelle Philosophie
movement who said that Jews ought to provide a unique moral voice in the
world.46. Bob DylanMusician
veteran singer was cited by the Pulitzer Prize jury for his profound
impact on popular music and American culture, “marked by lyrical
compositions of extraordinary poetic power.” Several of his songs have
become anthems for the human rights movement, including “Blowin’ in the
He made Michael Shapiro’s list in The Jewish 100:
A ranking of the Most Influential Jews of all Time
has performed five times in Israel, but contrary to press reports, will
not be coming here during his European tour this summer. 47. Roman AbramovitchInvestor,
Chelsea FC owner
The Russian oligarch who now lives
in London and owns the private investment company, Millhouse LLC, got a
big boost this year with Chelsea, the English soccer club he owns,
winning the Premier League. 48.
Sacha Baron CohenComedian
actor who played three crazy journalists, Ali G, Borat (left) and Brüno,
has created an international controversy over his comic characters –
and become a household name around the globe.
In the much-touted
Simpsons’ tour of Israel episode recently aired on television, Baron
Cohen plays Jacob, an angry tour guide. When Marge accused him of being
pushy, Jacob retorts: “Try living next to Syria... and see how laid back
you are!”49. Lucian FreudArtist
grandson of Sigmund and brother of Clement, Lucian lives in London and
is arguably the most famous and influential living Jewish painter. Freud
has painted a series of famous portraits, including those of fellow
artists and Queen Elizabeth II.
Two years ago, his portrait,
Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, was sold by Christie's for $33.6 million,
setting a world record for sale value of a painting by a living artist.50. Omri CasspiBasketball player
first Israeli to play in the NBA, the tall basketball player has
emerged as a star for the Sacramento Kings and one of the greatest
Jewish sportsmen in history. In January, he set a new career record with
24 points against the Phoenix Suns. Last year, he won fourth place in
the FIBA Europe Young Men’s Player of the Year and was named
sportsman of the year, and this year
played in the NBA All-Star Weekend. Soft-spoken and well-mannered, he is
liked and respected in the NBA and serves as a goodwill ambassador for
Israel abroad.Casspi responds:
means a lot to be the first Israeli in the NBA. I don’t just represent
myself. I represent Israel and the Jewish people in the states. It might
be something that comes with it, but I’m really not trying to think
about it. I’m trying to play basketball and focus on that. Because at
the end of the day I have to give the best I can on the court.”