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In the same week that Shari Arison outfoxed Nochi Dankner in his desire to become a major shareholder in Bank Hapoalim, Ma'ariv published its annual list of Israel's 100 richest people.
Although it had been commonly believed for a couple of months prior to publication of the list that Warren Buffett's 80 percent acquisition of Iscar for $4 billion had put the Wertheimer family at the top of the list and demoted Arison to second place, in the final analysis, she remained in the lead with an estimated net worth of NIS 22.9 billion. Stef Wertheimer is in second place with NIS 20 billion and Lev Leviev in third with NIS 19.3 billion. Haim Saban, who now holds American citizenship and is classified by Forbes as an American, is still considered to be an Israeli in the Israeli listings given his background and large scale investments in the country. Saban, with NIS 19.1 billion, is ranked fourth. Yitzhak Tshuva, who was ranked 9th in the previous year, has moved into fifth place with NIS 15.8 billion, while Poju (Haim) Zabludowicz, an Israeli with a Finnish passport who lives in Britain, was ranked sixth with approximately the same net worth as Tshuva. Zabludowicz's father Shlomo built up Soltam, one of Israel's leading defense industries, but the family has diversified into property and hotels. Zabludowicz owns a very large slice of downtown Las Vegas including casinos. Sammy Ofer, previously in fifth place fell to seventh with NIS 15.1 billion, and Arkady Gaydamak has taken a nosedive from second place to eighth with only NIS 14 billion to his name - of course, he's been giving a lot of it away and that may account in part for his drop in the ranks. Fellow Russian billionaire and philanthropist Michael Chernoy is in 9th place with NIS 10.5 billion, after previously ranking seventh, and Morris Kahn is down from eighth to tenth place with NIS 8.84 billion.
Arison is not only the wealthiest person and thereby the wealthiest woman in Israel, she is also among the 15 wealthiest women in the world according to the Forbes list of the World's Richest People in which Buffett is second only to Bill Gates.
Arison is one of eight Israelis mentioned on the Forbes list, ranking 109, with Forbes estimating her net value to be $5.2 billion. She is trailing slightly behind her brother Micky Arison, who is in 94th place with $6.1 billion. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a generous benefactor to many Israeli causes and an ardent but so far unsuccessful campaigner for legalized casinos in Israel, ranks third on the Forbes list of the 400 Richest Americans and 14th on its list of the World's Richest People.
Shari Arison is the only Israeli woman on the latter list. Other Israelis, in order of rank, are Ofer, 224; Arnon Milchan, 240; Leviev, 278; Stef Wertheimer and family, 317; Alexander Machkevich, the Kazakhstan entrepreneur who is president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and is for some reason listed by Forbes as an Israeli citizen, 332; Tshuva 382, and Morris Kahn 746.
Curiously, Queen Elizabeth II of England, long rumored to be the world's wealthiest woman is not on the list since Forbes estimated her personal net worth at $500 million and excluded the Crown jewels, the Royal Art Collection and famous palaces and castles that technically belong to the Crown's property portfolio and are valued at around $9 billion.
An extraordinary large number of people with Israel connections are among the Forbes 400 Richest Americans and World's Richest People. Among them are Brazilian bankers Joseph and Moise Safra in 69th place among the World's Richest; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg who is ranked 44th among the richest Americans and 112th among the world's richest people; World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman in 80th and 224th places, respectively; Steven Spielberg 94th and 245th; Saban, who ranked 98 among the 400 Richest Americans and shared 245th place with Spielberg among the world's richest people; Ronald Lauder, 103 on the American list; numerous members of the Pritzker family who are heirs to the Hyatt Hotel Empire; and Marc Rich, the commodities trader, who after years of living in exile in Switzerland was pardoned by President Bill Clinton on his last day in office. Although he now lives in the US, philanthropist Charles Bronfman is regarded as a Canadian by Forbes and is listed in 258th place among the world's richest people. Three Australians on that list with very strong Israel connections are Frank Lowy in 174th place with $3.8 billion, Richard Pratt in 335th place with $2.3 billion and John Gandel in 562nd place with $1.4 billion. These are but a few of the many extremely affluent people around the world who invest in Israel and who have also donated huge sums of money to numerous causes and projects in the country.
THE EXECUTIVE Board of the Western Galilee College has announced the appointment of Michael Shmeltzer as the College's new Executive Director. Shmeltzer, 46, a resident of Kfar Vradim is a graduate of the University of Haifa and holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in economics as well as a Bachelors degree in business administration.. He comes to his new post from the world of business, having previously been employed as a general manager and marketing vice president of several leading companies. The Western Galilee College, which is within the jurisdiction of the Acre Municipality, aims for high academic standards and is working in cooperation with Bar Ilan University. Its strong points are currently social sciences, complementary medicine and engineering. Shmeltzer believes that his business experience will be beneficial both to the curriculum and to students.
WHEN HIS retirement was initially announced, it was suggested to former Supreme Court President Judge Aharon Barak, that new legislation be introduced so that the mandatory retirement age for judges could be extended beyond age 70, thus enabling Barak to remain in office for a longer period. Barak declined the offer, but that doesn't mean that he's put himself out to pasture. According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, Barak has accepted the invitation of Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya founder and President Prof. Uriel Reichman to join the faculty of the IDC Law School. Barak still has other commitments to fulfill and, therefore, will join IDC only in October 2007. He will focus primarily on human rights, assist young researchers and lecture on various aspects of law. Because Barak had already agreed to deliver lectures at a number of overseas universities, the terms of his arrangement with IDC allow for him to take off several weeks in each semester to travel abroad.
PRIME MINISTER Ehud Olmert and Vice Premier Shimon Peres took time out on the Sunday prior to Rosh Hashana to attend the inauguration at Tel Aviv University of a Chair of Communications in the name of Gitam BBDO and former owner of the Hapoel Keter Tel Aviv Football Club, Moshe Teomim. Olmert, who has seldom been treated kindly by the media and certainly not of late, chose to retaliate at the inauguration ceremony declaring that the media was long regarded as the watchdog of democracy - "but the feeling is that it isn't always so." Olmert, who was once a journalist himself with the IDF publication Bamahane, attributed this to the hurdles that are part and parcel of the post-modern era - everything has to be delivered so quickly to ensure that the viewer doesn't get bored that truth has lost its meaning, he said. But truth, he noted, is mostly complex and impossible to accurately convey in a condensed form.