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MOST ISRAELIS' acquaintance with outspoken and finally outgoing Finance Ministry Accountant-General Yaron Zelekha is strictly via the media - they've either seen him on television, heard him on radio or read about him in the newspapers. But those who have the time and the inclination to travel today (Tuesday) to Ariel, can hear him address students at the Ariel University. Fans of Zelekha are beginning to echo the late celebrated journalist Uri Dan, who said of Ariel Sharon when he was stripped of his role as defense minister: "Whoever doesn't want him as defense minister will get him as prime minister." It took a long time for that prediction to prove true, but it did happen. And now there are people who are saying about Zelekha, "Whoever doesn't want him as accountant-general will get him as finance minister, and those who don't want him as finance minister will get him as prime minister." We'll just have to wait and see.
Hotelier and philanthropist David Fattal last week signed an agreement with Izi Cohen, the CEO of Migdal Insurance under which 10 percent of Fattal Holdings would be transferred to Migdal for a sum of NIS 570 million. According to Fattal the sale signified a vote of confidence in a strategic partner in Israel's economy through whom it is possible to reach unprecedented achievements in Israel's hotel industry. Fattal Holdings was established in 1998 as an Israeli hotel management company. In the interim, it acquired ownership of hotels in Israel and Europe. It owns four hotels and manages 18 in Israel, owns five hotels outright in Germany, and has investments in 16 hotels in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. Altogether, it manages 39 hotels in Israel and Europe.
SECURITY WILL be as tight as a drum this coming Sunday at Ben-Gurion University where both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be in attendance for Ben- Gurion Day ceremonies. Security will be intensified not only because of increasing threats against the president and the prime minister but also because of the presence of Industry and Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai and former prime minister of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin who will be in Israel for the dedication of the French Associates Institute for Drylands Agriculture at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research and the ground-breaking ceremony of the Advanced Technologies Park. Other commitments prevent Peres from being present the following day for the inauguration of the Milton and Frimette Snow Chair in Nanotechnology, a subject that is very dear to the President's heart, and the potential of which he discusses frequently. Peres, who when he still served in the Government was minister for the development of the Galilee and the Negev, is always pleased by new technological developments in the Negev.
IN OTHER BGU news, Arie Zehavi was recently appointed the director of the Israeli Friends of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He will be working with the president of the organization, Raya Strauss Bendror, to develop and expand the group's activities while enhancing its outreach to BGU alumni and friends around the country. Zehavi brings to the position vast experience in promoting higher education in Israel. He has served as a senior adviser to the president of the Weizmann Institute of Science and director of the Spain and Latin American Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Zehavi holds advanced degrees in political science and was an emissary of the World Zionist Organization to Brazil for three years. In addition to Hebrew and English, he speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
IN AN era when it was believed that television, video and the Internet had all but killed the desire to read books, the fallacy of the claim was most widely evidenced in the popularity of the Harry Potter series. There is even greater interest now following the announcement by author J.K. Rowling, who after a decade of writing magnum opus adventures about her hero, who has become the hero of tens of millions of readers around the world, that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last in the series of seven books. Released in July this year, it promises to have an even greater commercial success than its predecessors. In the US alone, it sold a record 12 million copies on the first run. The Hebrew version will be released at all sales points in Israel on December 5, at precisely 6 p.m. Anticipating a huge demand, Tsomet Books opened an Internet site to allow for pre-registration ahead of date on which the book will actually be sold. More than 3,500 people have registered on the Internet and the expectation is that Tsomet, through its various stores will sell 30,000 copies in the first week of availability. At least as many, if not more, will be sold by Steimatzky. And, of course, there are other smaller book selling enterprises that will also stock the latest Harry Potter adventures. The book retails for NIS 88. Tsomet's deputy marketing manager Tal Plockser expects to see huge crowds at Tsomet's 59 branches, but in particular at its largest branch in Dizengoff Center where there are also ample facilities to encourage browsers to sit down and read. Buyers, who choose this branch on December 5, may get to see a performance by local wizard Nimrod Harel. There will also be a contest emceed by actress Michal Gavrielov, with the winner receiving a NIS 1,000 gift voucher with which he or she will be able to acquire even more books.
THE NEW President of Magen David Adom is Yehuda Skornick, M.D., who comes to the position with an impressive record as a surgeon in frontline evacuation hospitals during the course of his military reserve duty, a teacher of undergraduates and postgraduates at the Tel Aviv University School of Medicine, a heart, pediatric and oncology surgeon, a researcher in immunogenicity of tumor cells and immunotherapy in cancer patients, and participation in cancer related conferences in many parts of the world to learn how different types of cancer are treated in different countries.
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