Senate stages show trial for oil execs

Finance Minister Ehud Olmert told Israel Radio that Peretz wants to bring the country back to a socialist, semi-communist economy.

ehud olmert 88 (photo credit: )
ehud olmert 88
(photo credit: )
Although he has been relieved of responsibility for the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert continues to maintain all his ministerial positions because the Knesset defeated Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's motion to appoint two additional ministers, one of whom would have become Minister of Industry and Trade. Olmert, who likes to take his closest associates with him when he moves from one post to another, took Ra'anan Dinur, who had been his chief aide when he was mayor of Jerusalem, to the Ministry of Industry and appointed him director-general. Olmert had pinpointed Dinur to replace Yuval Rachlevsky, the former wage director of the Finance Ministry, but that plan went awry when Sharon lost out in the Knesset. For the time being, Olmert needs Dinur to stay put. However, the need to find a successor to Rachlevsky has become more urgent since the election of Histadrut chairman Amir Peretz to the chairmanship of the Labor Party. Fears that Peretz will now force the economy backwards have been expressed by former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu as well as by Olmert. Regardless of the fact that Peretz has stated repeatedly that he has nothing against a free market economy providing capitalism does not take precedence over humanity, he has been maligned left, right and center. Olmert, notwithstanding his burdens of office, always finds time to be interviewed and attend business-cum-social events such as the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce Awards dinner, where he joined US Ambassador Richard Jones and Chamber President Zalman Shoval in distributing prizes. Olmert told Israel Radio this week that Peretz wants to bring the country back to a socialist, semi-communist economy. More than that, charged Olmert, Peretz does not really fight to eradicate poverty and improve the lives of the needy. All he's interested in doing, according to Olmert, is repaying those who helped him defeat Shimon Peres. Life IS not so sweet these days for Eli Landau, a long-time friend and ally of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Landau, chairman-designate of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, may not get to fill the post if criminal investigations against him lead to charges. A former mayor of Herzliya and more recently the chairman of the Israel Electric Corporation, Landau is suspected of extreme cronyism. Not only did he appoint his buddies to influential positions in the IEC, but allegedly bypassed the rules to enable them to win IEC tenders. Although Landau has been previously investigated with regard to these matters, fresh evidence has apparently come to the attention of State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, who transferred it to Attorney General General Menachem Mazuz, who put it in the hands of the police. If charges are brought against Landau, it will mean yet another political humiliation for Sharon. CHEFS ARE not famous for their modesty, but Itzik Mizrahi, the new executive chef at the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem, while accepting compliments for the change in cuisine that is pleasing to the eye as well as the palate, says Israel can take pride in its growing number of excellent chefs. "There are many young people in Israel today who are doing great things with cuisine," he said at a luncheon to launch the new menu at the Inbal's Sofia restaurant. Hotel General Manager Rodney Sanders reported on a significant upsurge in tourism, and said the hotel already has bookings for Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations in 2008. Several Jerusalem hotels, the Inbal included, have undergone renovations in anticipation of a tourist influx in 2006. UNWILLING TO wait for the Dairy Council to decide his future, Ziv Matalon, one of the opponents of Tnuva managing director Arik Reichman, has tendered his resignation. Matalon, who has been vociferous in his attitude toward Reichman, was ordered by his superior Shaike Drori to go on forced vacation while the Dairy Council's Board of Directors debated whether he would be allowed to continue in his post. Matalon pre-empted the board and quit. WHILE THERE have been some improvements when it comes to giving the disabled access to public thoroughfares, public transport, public buildings and the workplace, the situation is still far from satisfactory. Steps in buses are too high for most disabled people to use. Seats in buses are too cramped for people with crutches or braces; the aisles are too narrow for people with disabilities; the system for wheelchair entry and exit is too complicated, and often the number of baby strollers leaves no room for wheelchairs. Sidewalks are often inaccessible from the road, and too narrow for wheelchairs. Many public buildings, including health clinics, have no ramps (even though ramps cost less to construct than stairs), so people in wheelchairs cannot gain access without being physically carried inside - a measure that is humiliating and constitutes a loss of dignity. Even "accessible" washrooms in public buildings are often too narrow for a wheelchair to enter and turn around in... and there are still woefully few "accessible" washrooms. These issues and others will be raised at an Access Israel conference on policy, legislation and technological developments under the title "Access by Law." Participants will include Meir Sheetrit, Minister for Transportation, MK Shaul Yahalom, Yigal Ben Shalom director-general of the National Insurance Institute, Yuval Wagner, chairman of Access Israel, and Gila Gertel-Hason of the Israel Internet Association. Gertel-Hason will talk about the revolutionary changes that the Internet has brought into the lives of the disabled by enabling them to manage many of their affairs from home. But the Internet has little to offer when it comes to the most essential need - social integration. People with disabilities do not want to be isolated. They want to be accepted as mainstream citizens to their maximum capacities, just like everyone else. Making all places, including tourist attractions, truly accessible to the disabled would supply ongoing employment to architects, engineers, urban planners and construction workers. THE BOARD of Governors of the Weizmann Institute of Science has elected Manfred Moross as chairman. He replaces Stuart Eizenstat, who is completing his term. Born in South Africa in 1931, Moross received a B.Sc. from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and in 1953 completed an MBA degree with distinction at Harvard. He subsequently joined ICI in England before returning to South Africa, where he joined Anglo-Transvaal Consolidated Investments. In 1961, he joined the Schlesinger Organization in Johannesburg, where his acumen brought him to public attention - so much so that he became chairman of the Schlesinger International group, a position he held until 1974, when it was sold to the Anglo-American Corporation of Johannesburg. He then joined the board of the Rand Selection Trust, a controlling shareholder of AAC. He is currently based in London and New York, where his business interests focus on the financial services industry as well as energy, shipping and real estate. An ardent, hands-on philanthropist, Moross has been associated with archeological excavations in the City of David, the Israel Tennis Center and the Israel Museum. He created the Hymie Moross Community Center for Children in Jerusalem. A member of the Weizmann Institute board of governors since 1982, he was one of the prime movers behind W-GEM, the organization that invests in the institute's worldwide endowment. He has served as chairman of the endowment's investment committee since 2004. In addition, Moross provided the financial resources for valuable historic acquisitions pertaining to Dr. Chaim Weizmann, and has helped to refurbish Weizmann's historic laboratory. Moross has also made significant contributions in the areas of robotics and computer vision, and has founded the Weizmann Institute's M.D. Moross Institute for Cancer Research, enabling Weizmann Institute scientists to engage in cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary cancer studies. Moross was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Weizmann Institute in 1998. THE ISRAEL office of The Abraham Fund Initiatives have announced that Mohammad Darawshe, 42, the former deputy director of Givat Haviva Center - an educational campus providing training in peace building and conflict resolution - has joined the Abraham Fund Initiatives. Darawshe will focus on fundraising in Israel and Europe. He holds an M.A. in Public Administration from Hartford University and has lectured at international and academic institutions such as the US Congress, the European Parliament, NATO Defense College and the World Economic Forum. He has won numerous awards, including the Peacemaker Award bestowed by the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs. The Abraham Fund Initiatives, based in Jerusalem and New York, is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization that works to advance coexistence, equality and cooperation among Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens. EFRAT WINERIES has appointed Dror Eshel to the position of deputy general manager. Before that he was deputy manager of sales and manager of the business section of Partner. He has worked in executive capacities in other branches of industry. Efrat Wineries, owned by the Tepperburg family, is the fourth largest in Israel. The company is currently establishing an additional winery at an investment of NIS 30 million. VETERAN INSURANCE agent Michal Isaacs, who with her late husband Israel Isaacs established the Jerusalem Economic Forum, also runs a public relations agency. Recently she decided to add yet another line of business to her stable and took over the concession for the downtown Jerusalem retail outlet for the Mausner fashion company. Isaacs modernized what used to be a rather staid store, and is thinking of branching out in other fields of business.