Billionaire philanthropist Arkady Gaydamak is once again fulfilling what should be the role of government. Gaydamak, who built the tent city in Nitzanim that housed thousands of refugees from the North during the war in Lebanon, has just concluded a deal with the Hefzibah construction company belonging to the Yona Family, to build apartment blocks in Jerusalem to be rented out for symbolic sums to needy families. A block of 80 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood will be constructed in the first phase of the project. The scheduled occupancy date is approximately a year from now. Other apartment blocks constructed by Hefzibah will be purchased by Gaydamak in the future. Details regarding the actual rental fees, payment of arnona and eligibility for subsidized rentals have yet to be finalized. Gaydamak will not limit this area of his philanthropy to Jerusalem, but will also provide subsidized housing in Beersheba and the Galilee . COMSEC INFORMATION Security, which has been operating an advisory board since 2003 with the aim of gaining added value from leading professionals in the information security or financial fields, has announced an addition to the advisory board. Juergen Schulze, 44, is a winner of excellence awards in recognition of his managerial talents, and was most recently the Director of Strategic Alliances in Symantec EMEA, where he achieved large growth results year after year. Schulze has more than 15 years experience in the fields of information systems and security technologies as well as extensive experience and know-how in international marketing. He has a seamless track record for developing successful strategies and implementing strategic partnerships. AT A reception hosted by Australian Ambassador James Larsen for Helen Coonan, Australian Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and the Australian Trade Mission that came to Telecom 2006, Mark Latchford, general manager of the IBM Systems and Technology Group (Australia ), acknowledged his personal and professional impressions of Israel. He had spent his honeymoon in Israel, he said, but it was not until he was posted to Europe that he really got to know the country. While IBM Australia is a trailblazer in service innovation, said Latchford, IBM Israel is an innovative incubator. Gabriel Tal, Director ISV and Developer Relations, IBM Europe, said that IBM has been operating in Israel since 1949, which he noted was something quite remarkable given the fact that Israel as a sovereign state came into being only in 1948. Today, the IBM research laboratory in Israel is the largest outside the US, he said. "The amount of innovation in Israel is second only to Silicon Valley." There are some 3,000 Israeli hi-tech companies engaged in innovation, said Tal. Coonan, who had been apprised in greater detail of what IBM does in Israel, said she had listened in awe, and had drawn the conclusion that IBM is at the center of what's happening in Israel. She attributed IBM's success to its ability to "adapt, change and innovate." Referring to the constantly improving trade relations between Australia and Israel , Coonan said that this was largely due to the work of the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce and its Israeli counterpart. In fact the Australia-Israel Chamber was so influential, she said, that its national chairman Leon Kempler had carte blanch with the prime minister and could wander into his office at will, whereas she always had to make an appointment. Gurion Meltzer, chairman of the Israel-Australia, New Zealand & Oceania Chamber of Commerce noted that not only IBM, but also Motorola had been in Israel since the early days of the State. In paying tribute to IBM, Meltzer recalled that during the years of the Arab boycott, when an attempt had been made to coerce IBM away from Israel , IBM's response had been that if the Arabs didn't like the situation, they didn't have to make use of IBM. "The Arabs had no choice," said Meltzer. They simply couldn't afford to boycott IBM. THE FEDERATION of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce that was heavily involved in the Prime Minister's Conference for Export and International Co-operation hosted a dinner for the diplomatic corps and heads of bilateral chambers at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv where speakers included Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman who is a former long-term chairman of the Federation of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce and current chairman Amnon Dotan. At the conference itself, a special session was devoted to the contribution of the Chambers of Commerce to the strengthening of international ties with other countries in the shadow of ongoing confrontation.. Speakers included Zalman Shoval who heads the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, Michael Federmann, who heads the Israel-Germany Chamber of Commerce and Amir Haik. who heads the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. Also among the speakers was British Ambassador Tom Phillips who made it clear that while he thinks that business links between countries are of vital importance and do indeed provide part of the real meat of bilateral relationships, he would not want to claim that they are a critical factor in conflict situations. Experience as a diplomat in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa had taught him that countries and people can and do take decisions that are not in their best economic interests. He saw it as the task of politicians and diplomats to try to stop that from happening. Echoing remarks made by Chancellor Gordon Brown in a speech at Chatham House last month, Phillips said that political roadmaps must be underpinned with economic roadmaps to show that widespread problems of poverty and unemployment can be addressed, and that politics can deliver jobs and hopes for the future. Although the year gone by has been a difficult one, said Phillips, the business and economic links between Britain and Israel are illustrative of a healthy partnership. Two-way trade increased by 6 percent and two-way investment continues to increase with more than 200 Israeli companies having a base in Britain and major British companies such as HSBC, APAX, British Airways and British Gas having significant interests in Israel . Israeli companies continue to raise capital on the LSE/AIM markets, said Phillips, noting that 25% of all international listings on AIM last year were from Israel. London now has a 26.4% share of the global IPO market compared to just 6.5% in New York. Phillips cited a recent survey in "The Economist" magazine that predicted record high foreign direct investment in Israel in 2006 - upwards of $ 9billion. "This would put Israel in 10th place for FDI among 27 emerging markets," he said. "People invest here because Israel has a market-based economy, lots of entrepreneurial spirit, a legal system based, I'm proud to say, on British law, and good international connections." ON ANOTHER level of economic ties between Britain and Israel, Shenkar fashion design graduate Menashe Ben Yosef has been selected to join the prestigious Pentland Design Talent Team where he will be working alongside British graduates of different disciplines whose mission is to create a new brand within an 11-month period. Katie Greenyer, the head designer and creative director of the Pentland Design Team that designs for well known brands such as Eliese, Kangaroos, Lacoste, Red or Dead, Speedo and Kickers, was in Israel last week to interview Shenkar graduates who are interested in expanding their horizons in England. She was very much impressed with Ben Yosef's graduation project of men's street wear inspired by a fusion of robotics and hard rock. The collection reflected both the times and the environment. Last year, Pentland selected Ran Merkazi, a Shenkar industrial design graduate who has been instrumental in designing Speedo accessories. He has made such a positive impact that when the 11 months concluded, he was asked to stay on as a permanent member of the Speedo team. CINEMA CITY founder Yaacov Cohen was given a life achievement citation and named Honorary President of the Insurance Agents Association at the association's conference in Eilat last week. Cohen, a prominent figure in Israeli insurance circles founded Cinema City Herzliya approximately two years ago, but the movie shown to him and his family at the conference was not a feature, but a documentary based on his career. NOTWITHSTANDING THE fact that he's not one of the favorite people of Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Eldad Yaniv, the long-time legal advisor to the Labor Party, has been appointed legal advisor to the Labor faction in the Knesset. He was appointed by MK Yoram Marciano who was recently elected to head the faction. Yaniv is very tight with former prime minister Ehud Barak. Peretz tried to oust Yaniv sooner after taking over the party chairmanship, but encountered so much opposition that he decided not to waste time or energy on the matter. FORMER POLICE inspector-general Yehuda Wilk, who is now the general manager of Derech Eretz, which operates Highway 6, joined some 150 Jewish and Arab elementary school children in picking olives in the Kafr Kana area. After they'd picked approximately 1,000 tons of olives, Wilk instructed drivers of company vehicles to come to transport the olives to the local olive press for processing and announced that he and members of the company would purchase bottles of oil produced from the olives he had helped to pick. IT'S QUITE a feather in Israel's cap when an Israeli member of an international organization is elected to an executive role by secret ballot. That's what happened to Yoram Cohen, the chairman for the past three years of Enosh, the Israel Mental Health Association. At a meeting in Brussels attended by representatives from all over Europe, Cohen was elected vice president of Gamian Europe as well as to membership in the executive board of the organization. Gamian - Europe is a roof body of mental health associations that strives to promote information, education and awareness on treatment and support for the mentally ill, fights stigma and encourages appropriate research. ISRAEL CHEMICALS Ltd., a multinational fertilizer and specialty chemicals company, has announced the promotion of Arie Sudak, Vice President of ICL Industrial Products segment, to President and CEO of Dead Sea Magnesium Ltd. The appointment becomes effective on January 1. Sudak replaces Dan Mesika who has been president and CEO since June 2004 and has resigned for personal reasons. Sudak has been associated with ICL since 1977. He has also served in other top managerial positions for ICL Industrial Products including General Manager of SinoBrom China, and Plant Manager of Broomchemie B.V. Netherlands. EL AL has appointed Omer Shalev as legal advisor and company secretary. He replaces Amir Scharf who announced his resignation in September. Shalev, 38, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University Law School . He was previously the legal advisor to Knafayim Holdings and to Arkia. Prior to that, he was legal advisor and company secretary to the Davidoff Group, which specializes in insurance and healthcare services. HP ISRAEL has announced the appointment of Shlomi Preis as head of its printing division, replacing Yishai Aviri who announced his resignation after 24 years with the company. Price, 39, was previously sales manager of the business sector of the printing division.