Business Scene

AFTER 42 years with the Israel Electric Corp., Dr. Eli Sverdlov has decided to step down in favor of a new career in academia.

UNLIKE MANY other people who work shorter hours for higher salaries, President Shimon Peres does not get paid overtime even though he works a seven-day week, starting with early morning meetings and continuing throughout the day, often till as late as midnight. Case in point, on Friday, when everyone else was doing their shopping, drinking coffee with friends or getting ready for Shabbat, Peres was hosting a peace delegation from Indonesia. On Saturday night, he addressed the annual Globes Business Conference in Tel Aviv. On Sunday morning, he was in Jerusalem to receive a business delegation from Japan, which was one of several groups and individuals that occupied his attention throughout the day. In the evening, he went to Ammunition Hill to participate in a Hanukka candle lighting celebration, and on Monday his appointments included a meeting with senior citizens who were concerned about the violence perpetrated against members of their peer generation. Today, Peres is touring Haifa, including the hi-tech companies and the Bahai Gardens, before continuing on to Upper Nazareth to participate in the Galilee Conference, which also will be attended by Ministers Ya'acov Edri, Eli Yishai, Yuli Tamir and Meir Sheetrit. Also among the many participants will be Ra'anan Dinur, director general of the Prime Minister's Office; Ze'ev Bielski, Jewish Agency chairman; Shawki Hatib, chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee; Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jaraisy; and various Arab academics and officials. Although the Arab participants will be decidedly outnumbered by Jews, their ratio in the conference will nonetheless be higher than their ratio in the population. FEW THINGS are as exciting as a change in status. In Israel, such excitement often affects not just one person but a whole community. For instance, a new neighborhood can grow into a whole suburb, which in turn can grow into a village or a town, which in turn can develop into a city. That's what happened to Givat Shmuel, which will officially be accorded its new status on December 20, when Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, makes the declaration to Mayor Zamir Ben-Ari and members of the city council at a formal ceremony in the municipal chambers. The event will also be attended by Aryeh Bar, director general of the Interior Ministry; Prof. Moshe Kaveh, the President of Bar-Ilan University; local rabbis; members of Knesset; mayors of other municipalities; and other public figures. One of Ben-Ari's first acts as mayor of a city rather than a town, will be a reciprocal gesture - he will present Sheetrit with the key to the city. Sheetrit should have a sense of what Ben-Ari will be experiencing. His initial thrust into public life was as a very young mayor of Yavneh, which in those days looked nothing like it does now. Although Givat Shmuel is quite nicely developed, its new status will afford it greater scope for greater development. AFTER 42 years with the Israel Electric Corporation and 15 years as the IEC's chief comptroller, Dr. Eli Sverdlov has decided to step down in favor of a new career in academia. The IEC management reluctantly agreed to his request to be relieved of his post, and thanked him for the immense contribution that he has made to the IEC during more than four decades of employment. THE LITHUANIAN Embassy in conjunction with the Israel Federation of Chambers of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute is organizing a business meeting on December 19 with the aim of establishing an Israel-Lithuania Chamber of Commerce. Some 70 Israeli companies with existing or potential business interests in Lithuania have been invited to attend the meeting at Industry House. And to hear from Dr. Gitanas Nauseda the chief adviser to the president of the SEB Vilniaus Bank about the benefits of doing business with Lithuania. THE NEW Israeli representative on the 80-member board of the International Court of Arbitration, which is part of the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce, is attorney Gideon Fisher who was elected at the world conference of the ICC Council in Paris at the end of November. The ICC established in 1923, has a huge membership of companies from some 140 countries. Its Court of Arbitration deals with an average of 1,000 new cases each year. THE NEW vice president of public affairs at Tel Aviv University is Dr. Gary Sussman, whose appointment became effective at the beginning of December. Sussman joined Tel Aviv University in 2004 as director of research and development at the Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy. He holds a PhD in Government and History from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a Masters in political science which he completed with distinction at TAU. He previously gained a bachelor's degree in social sciences, specializing in economics and environmental studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. Before making aliya in 1992, Sussman served as the head of the Habonim Dror Youth Movement in South Africa. He replaces Yehiel Ben Zvi who held the position since 1980 and now serves as senior adviser to the university president. THE JEWISH Agency for Israel, which is dedicated to creating a global partnership between Israelis and Diaspora Jewry, does this in several ways. One of its flagship programs is Partnership 2000 (P2K), which brings together 45 cities and regions in Israel with 550 Jewish communities abroad. P2K is dedicated to developing people-to-people programming among youth and professionals, strengthening civic leadership in Israel, and in general focuses on community development with special emphasis on the younger generation via educational initiatives and young leadership development programs. Through P2K, the Jewish Agency has linked Israeli professionals with their colleagues in overseas Jewish communities - doctors, educators, social workers, artists, etc. who have collaborated to advance their common professional goals and/or to help advance more general civic concerns. In recent years, a growing number of Israeli business leaders have taken leadership roles in Partnership 2000 as a means of contributing to and advancing civic society. This relatively new development of business social responsibility in Israel is regarded as highly significant by their Diaspora peers who are eager to interact with them. As a result, the Agency has committed itself to developing new forms of partnerships, specifically Business-to-Business (B2B) in which Israeli and Diaspora business leaders join forces to advance the agenda of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. This cooperation was intensified and expanded this week when some 75 Jewish business leaders from the Diaspora who are engaged in P2K and B2B came to Israel to participate in the Globes Israel Business Conference, and some were actually on the program. Among them were Sami and Annette Bollag who own Swiss-based Esprit International a fashion distributing company; Stephen Gross of Montreal, Canada, who is vice chairman of the La Senza Corporation, which operates 667 intimate apparel stores in Canada and 34 other countries; David Cape, president of Groupe Marcelle Inc., a major Canadian skin care and cosmetics company; Lior Lesser, a Miami-based Israeli-born attorney who provides corporate counsel to high growth companies; Jeffrey Cohen, of New Jersey, managing director and global head of retailing within the Investment Banking Division of UBS; Joel Reistein, an attorney from Boca Raton; Brian Schacter President/CEO of Counseltron - a major Canadian importer, distributor, sales organization and developer of a wide range of consumer products; and Phil Blazer of Los Angeles, president of Blazer Communications and publisher of The National Jewish News. The Jewish Agency is holding a B2B Conference today at Binyanei Ha'Uma in Jerusalem. HE STARTED out in business as a diamond cutter and polisher, and since then he's had a finger in so many different business pies for which he had to open premises that multi-faceted tycoon Lev Leviev has had plenty of practice in affixing mezuzot. This week, he took time out from his myriad affairs, to affix yet another mezuza - this time to the new headquarters of the Metro Transportation Solution (MTS) group in the Azrieli Towers. He is part of MTS Group in his capacity as chairman of Africa Israel, which is one of the partners in the group along with the Egged bus cooperative, Siemens of Germany, CCECC of China, Da Costa Soares of Portugal and HTM of the Netherlands.