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(photo credit: Courtesy)
THE KEY to economic development used to be peace, but in an era of confrontation and terror, the lack of a peace factor has been discounted by the business world, former two-time Israel Ambassador to the United States Zalman Shoval told an audience at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue Saturday night. Shimon Peres used to talk about peace and economic development as if it were a mantra, said Shoval, and long before that German philosopher Emanuel Kant claimed that trade and commercial relations would put an end to war. Neither philosophy is applicable to the current economic situation, said Shoval. "Lack of stability is discounted in the workings of western economies including that of Israel." A former member of Knesset, Shoval is involved in banking, venture capital, real estate development and industry. He linked his remarks to last year's war in Lebanon, which he said was a watershed event. Many things will be judged in future as before or after the Lebanese war, he said. Speaking of the way the war was handled by the Israeli leadership, Shoval said: "There was a complete breakdown in management. Any business run this way would go bankrupt." Curiously, the war did not impact negatively on Israel's economy. "If one thing can be said without hesitation, it's that Israel's economy stood tall and strong," declared Shoval. "The Israel economy has become less dependent on government which is why it functioned well when the rest did not," he said.
BRITISH AMBASSADOR Tom Phillips was on hand to assist Len Judes, chairman of the Israel-British Chamber of Commerce to distribute the awards at the Chamber's annual gala dinner in Tel Aviv last week. A2E one of the largest social providers in welfare-to-work programs in the UK, won the award for the most outstanding investor, while Sir Ronald Cohen won the award for the most outstanding personal contribution to Israel's economy. Inter alia, A2E helps to enhance employment prospects, education and skills. Cohen is the founder of Apax Partners, Britain's first, and today its largest, venture capital firm. Apax, together with the Saban Capital Group and Mori Arkin, in October 2005, purchased the Israel Government's controlling stake in Bezeq. Sir Ronald is also chairman of The Portland Trust, a private, not-for-profit British foundation committed to promoting peace and stability between Israelis and Palestinians through economic development. In addition, he is vice chairman of Ben-Gurion University, and also chairs the British Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The dinner was sponsored by Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, whose chairman of the board of directors Yaakov Perry, noted that the Israel-British Chamber, is the oldest of all the bi-national chambers of commerce operating in Israel.
IT'S DIFFICULT to keep pace with the many business deals of Lev Leviev who appears to be taking an increasing interest in the development of downtown Jerusalem. Africa Israel, one of the companies headed by Leviev, has together with Sheinfeld Ltd. won a tender for a plot in Rabbi Akiva Street by outbidding their rivals by several million dollars. The tender was published by the Jewish Agency Pensions Fund, which has owned the prop6erty for a long time but was in need of fluid assets to pay out pensions to retirees. Thirty companies placed bids, which for the most part hovered somewhere between $20 million and $22m. The winning bid was $28.3m.
The property is adjacent to the Anna Ticho House and the house of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hacohen Kook, who was chief rabbi of Jerusalem and later of Palestine. His home, like the Anna Ticho House, has become a museum. In the course of building its own high-rise project, Africa Israel will also revamp the garden at Anna Ticho House. Although the area is zoned for both commercial and residential purposes, it is understood that in keeping with the policy of the Jerusalem Municipality to revitalize the downtown area, the project will be residential.
RESIDENTS OF existing apartment complexes on Rabbi Akiva Street like the convenience of the numerous coffee shops and other eateries on adjacent Hillel Street. The two most famous enterprises of this kind on Hillel Street are Aroma and Caf Hillel. Now, after Aroma and Caf Hillel have made their mark, Arcaffe is coming in to Jerusalem from the Coastal Plain and will open its first Jerusalem branch - where else but Hillel Street, in premises between Caf Hillel and Aroma. The Arcaffe chain owned by the Shefer family, will take up much larger premises than those of Aroma and Caf Hillel, forcing the Hillel Mini Market operated by Gideon Siboni and Tower Records to vacate. The Hillel Mini Market will relocate elsewhere on the same street, while Tower Records will seek another nearby location.
TIMING IS everything. It just so happened that Osem and Steimatzky launched their "Good Coffee with a Good Book" campaign on the eve of the International Book Fair in which Steimatzky is participating. Steimatzky, which since it was acquired by Markstone is expanding in several directions, is currently selling Nescafe products in all its stores. Anyone who purchases a Nescafe product in a 200 gram container when buying a book in any Steimatzky store will receive the second book free of charge. Neither company looked for professional models for the photo shoot to launch the campaign. Osem CEO Gazi Kaplan and Steimatzky CEO Iris Barel are old friends from way back, so they decided to meet for coffee in one of the Steimatzky stores. Kaplan is an avid bookworm, and he surprised Barel by telling her that he already had read some of the new titles that had been placed in front of him. Barel had to confess that she hadn't. The campaign runs parallel to that of Aroma Music Bar in which the coffee shop chain is promoting exclusive CDs by leading Israeli singers and musicians in its Aroma Music Bar. Aviv Gefen set the ball rolling and found time to pose with Noam Berman, Aroma Israel's vice president marketing, before setting off on a heavily booked tour of London and New York.
EIGHT ISRAELIS have been included in the 188 foreign members of the American National Academy of Engineering. Among them is Prof. Yossi Kost of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Membership in this prestigious organization is considered to be one of the highest levels to which an engineer can aspire. Kost was selected for membership in recognition of his innovative methods of applying medications via the application of ultra sound waves.