NOTWITHSTANDING AN enviable CV, former Jerusalem Post columnist and political commentator Ron Dermer, Israel's Minister for Economic Affairs in the US, was not to put it mildly the favorite cup of tea of Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson, who had decided to terminate Dermer's services, possibly because of Dermer's close relationship with one of Hirchson's predecessors in office, and current political rival, former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who appointed Dermer as economic attach , when Netanyahu was finance minister. Although Dermer, who took up his post two years ago, was reportedly doing a good job in Washington, Hirchson had no intention of keeping him there, regardless of Dermer's family connections and influence. However, he was notified this week by Ruth Ashkenazi, the senior administrative deputy director-general at the Finance Ministry that his contract had been extended until the end of March, 2008.
Dermer was born and raised in Miami Beach, Florida, and earned a Finance and Management degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University. For the best part of a decade, he acted as a consultant to leading Israeli politicians including Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky with whom he co-authored Sharansky's best-selling book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. Dermer returned briefly to Florida to help his brother David Dermer in his mayoral election campaigns. David Dermer is currently serving his third and final term. Jay Dermer, the father of the Dermer brothers, was a two-term mayor of Miami Beach. The Dermer family and that of President George W. Bush know each other quite well and have come to each other's assistance in their respective political endeavors. Thus it was no coincidence that Sharansky's book came to the attention of the US President whose well-publicized enthusiasm for its contents helped to make it a best seller.
THE JERUSALEM municipal elections are still a year-and-a-half away, but billionaire philanthropist Arkadi Gaydamak has already announced that he's running in the race for mayor and that he knows that he can introduce important economic and social welfare reforms that will benefit the residents of the capital. Gaydamak's largesse in relation to many and varied causes in Jerusalem, several of which are projects of the haredi community, may earn him votes from that quarter as well as from the Russian speaking sector which would be happy to see someone who is concerned about their interests occupying the top position at City Hall. Another plus factor for Gaydamak in the attempt to garner the haredi vote is that he is extremely positive about safeguarding Jewish tradition and lays phylacteries daily. He also believes that Jerusalem is the symbol of the Jewish people. Gaydamak has been toying with submitting his candidature for mayor for some time, but what tipped the balance in his decision-making process was the fact that war veterans of the Red Army who fought against the Nazis were denied permission to parade in Jerusalem. Gaydamak, who has strong feelings about giving these veterans the honor and respect due to them, does not want them to be denied again. Over the past year or so, Gaydamak has been courted and frequently accompanied by Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yigal Amedi, who stands in for Mayor Uri Lupolianski at many places and events where the haredi mayor might find it embarrassing to be seen. It should be remembered that when Amedi ran for office in the last elections, he scored only three percent of the vote, but in the aftermath allied himself with Lupolianski and raked in a salary in excess of NIS 40,000 per month. Amedi, who obviously knows what side his bread is buttered on, has now allied himself with Gaydamak in the upcoming campaign. In an interview with Israel Radio's Amnon Nadav, Amedi said Gaydmak had already had already done a lot for the city and had much to contribute. Gaydamak, who began the interview in passable Hebrew, although initially addressed in English by Nadav, switched to English in which he feels more comfortable, but said that within six months, his Hebrew would be fluent. That in itself may indicate how serious he is about being called about Mayor Gaydamak. If he wins, Jerusalem could well become the economic center of Israel .
NEW YORK-based prominent mid-sized investment firm and broker-dealer Maxim Group LLC has named Jeffrey Kahn, former chief strategic officer of Ruder Finn International as head of its new Israel Office. The announcement of Kahn's appointment follows a successful 2006 year for Maxim with Israeli companies. The firm appeared on the cover of two of the five NASDAQ Israeli public offerings, including Incredimail Ltd. and RRSat Global Communications Network Ltd. in 2006. More recently, during the first quarter of this year, Maxim along with Kahn's assistance in Israel, raised $25 million and launched an Israeli Business Combination Company, Pinpoint Advanced Corporation, headed by Yaakov Peri and Adiv Baruch. "Based on the tremendous opportunities for a firm like ours in Israel, as well as the extensive network of Israeli contacts that Jeff Kahn brings to our team, we believe Israel will play an even more important role for us in 2007 and beyond," said Michael Rabinowitz, chairman of Maxim. Kahn has spent his entire career in strategic counseling working opposite governments, including the US, France, Switzerland and Israel, in addition to corporations, including IBM, AT&T, Sony, Kraft and Mitsubishi. In addition, Kahn has provided strategic counsel to the RAD group, DSPG, AudioCodes, Tadiran and many other successful Israeli corporations. Most recently, he was chairman of Ruder Finn Israel and global chief strategic officer of New York-based Ruder Finn Inc.
THE SUN sets on Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda Mall with the closure of Shemesh (Sun), yet another veteran eatery to go out of business in a period of approximately 18 months. While new restaurants, bars and coffee shops are cropping up all over downtown Jerusalem, the establishments that had a long history have nearly all disappeared among them Finks, Atara and now Shemesh. Jerusalem-born Yehezkiel Shemesh, 85, has spent 70 years of his life in the restaurant game, starting as a teenager at the King David and giving free meals to soldiers of the Six Day War in his own restaurant in what was then Ben Yehuda Street (before the advents of the pedestrian mall). When Shemesh opened up his restaurant in 1950 in what was then a hop, skip and a jump from the Knesset building that later housed the Ministry of Tourism and is now home to the offices of the Rabbinate, nearly all the government ministers, Members of Knesset, the mayor of Jerusalem and members of the city council, not to mention leading business figures, dined in his establishment. Some of them remembered him from the King David, while others remembered him from the Eden Hotel, where he was also a waiter. In recent years, the Eden Hotel became an adjunct of the Absorption Ministry, but has been designated for restoration to its former glory when it was frequented by local and foreign dignitaries and celebrities. Like many other enterprises in Jerusalem, Shemesh was a victim of the first and second Intifadas. Notwithstanding the huge downturn in clientele, the proprietor still had to pay city rates and taxes, wages and maintenance, but the profits dwindled to the extent that the business went into debt. Shemesh found himself in and out of court, and was constantly paying fines for being in arrears. The straw that broke the camel's back was when the bailiff came and removed the chairs and tables, leaving customers with nowhere to sit so Shemesh decided that if there was nowhere to sit, it was time to close down.
ISRAEL SCORED a major triumph with the recent election of Leah Wapner, Secretary-General of the Israel Medical Association to the position of Secretary-General of the European Forum of Medical Associations (EFMA). It was the first time an Israeli was nominated to head the EFMA, which is the umbrella organization for 53 member countries that are links in the chain between European states and the World Health Organization. Together, EFMA and the WHO establish dialogue and cooperation between National Medical Associations and WHO in the European Region to improve the quality of health and health care in Europe, promote the exchange of information and ideas between NMAs and WHO; integrate appropriate aspects of policies for health for all into basic, postgraduate and continuing medical education; and where appropriate, formulate consensus policy statements on health issues. EFMA has initiated and collaborated with WHO on projects on vital issues associated with preventative medicine and public health worldwide. Current joint projects include medicine in the electronic age, medical preparedness in mass casualty situations, physician migration and obesity treatment. Wapner's election ensures that the next conference will be held in Israel. In welcoming the nomination, IMA President Dr. Yoram Blacher termed it an indication of the deep respect given across the globe to Israeli physicians. "It is a significant achievement that will strengthen Israel and its physicians' position in the international arena," he said.
MEMBERS OF the Recanati family turned out in force for the dedication of the Raphael Recanati Genetics Institute at Beilinson Hospital in the Rabin Medical Center. The establishment of the institute, which will operate according to the highest international standards, was made possible by a NIS 15 million gift by Raphael Recanati's widow Dina Recanati and their sons Udi and Michael. Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who affixed the mezuzah, spoke of the sanctity of human life and reflected on the untold number of lives that would be saved and enriched by genetic research and treatment conducted at the Institute. RGI director, Prof. Motti Shohat noted that genetics has become the emergency treatment for the fetus with the help of technological advancements that enable increased genetic examinations at different phases of pregnancy enabling the detection and sometimes the repair of defects. RGI is the largest genetics institute in Israel, and some of its work is unique not only to Israel but to the world.
IN HER never-ending quest to advance and enhance the science of beauty, Ronit Raphael has chosen Pilates high priestess Dalia Mantver and her daughter Noa, to head a $200,000 advertising campaign, part of which is dedicated to promoting the handing down of well-being from mother to daughter under the slogan "Because good things are passed on as a legacy." Mantver and her daughter are among several well known Israelis who will be featured in the campaign, which will focus on different forms of fitness, nutrition and quality of life.
THE BOARD of Directors of the Tel Aviv Stock exchange has approved the appointment of Avner Halevy as an external director. Halevy held key positions in the Bank of Israel for some 30 years including those of advisor to the governor of the Bank of Israel and head of the division for international relations. Halevy, 61, is a Hebrew University economics graduate.
BEGIN HERITAGE Center spokeswoman Hadasa Greenberg-Yaakov is leaving her post to take up the position of spokeswoman for The Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports. To make life easier for those people who were in frequent contact with her, Greenberg-Yaakov is keeping her old cell phone number. BHC has not yet found a replacement, and is still looking for someone suitable to work with the Government Fellows Program.