The wealthiest woman in Israel tries to change her image. She is coming out with a new book, and, in its honor, breaks from her usual solitude and agrees to an interview. On her divorce from Ofer Glazer: “I love him but we’ve closed the circle”. On Dankner: “They’ve hung a man in the village square without a trial”. And on her yacht and the rosy future she predicts for herself, after she predicted the economic crisis. (Mako, Emanuel Rosen)
At 51, Shari Arison appears to have it all. She has a bank, she has billions. She is the wealthiest woman in Israel and she works nonstop, contributing, active, and still, Arison feels she’s missing out on something. She doesn’t have our love. She wants us to know her as she really is, and not the image created of an estranged, yet glowing, satiated woman. Perhaps the new book she has written, Birth, will accomplish this for her.
“I think I simply felt the time has come for me to be heard, who I really am”, she explains her decision to publish the book. “My book speaks in my voice and people will get to know me.”
Arison writes in her book that she has wanted people to admire her all her life, and it hasn’t happened. She feels exploited, a victim who gives but does not receive. “I am a person who gives a lot of herself”, she says, “and at some point, when you give and give and give and don’t get any back, or the opposite – get back only cynicism and ill will – then you feel empty and used and unappreciated”.
She wishes to free herself from her famous yacht, perhaps the symbol of her wealth. “It’s not for me,” she tries to explain. “For a while I enjoyed it and then I went through a period of torment. I realized I didn’t enjoy all the fuss surrounding it”. The economic crisis created an opportune excuse for her to look for a buyer. The problem is that there aren’t any buyers right now.
Bank of Israel’s insistence on dismissing its Chairman of the Board (Bank HaPoalim), Dani Dankner, she still doesn’t understand. “I think Dani was a wonderful Chairman”, she says. “I didn’t see a justification for what they are doing to him, but besides that, I think the global economic crisis occurred largely due to a loss of values. I don’t think one can hang a person in the village square without a trial or without any reasons I can see”.
Arison tries to explain why she changed her custom of keeping herself far from the camera’s eye in this story. “I am a person and first and foremost I am true to myself,” she says. “I sat quietly while everyone had their say in the newspapers and on TV, whether it was truth or lies and I said: “That’s it, I have something to say and I’m going to come out and say it'”.
The wealthiest woman in Israel claims she foresaw the global economic crisis. “I’ve been receiving messages, call them spiritual communications, for many years”, she tries to explain. “I see things, many things, before they happen. Apparently I’ve been granted this gift, to see the future, not in order to run and buy and sell and make a lot of money, but in order to bring the world to another place”.
She receives these messages, she claims, in images or words, sometimes during sleep. “I received a message that there would be a global economic crisis, that people would begin to go crazy, and we have seen that”, she says. “More and more people are going crazy, it’s amazing”.
These messages also bring hope. “Things will be good afterwards,” she predicts. “I think we are nearing salvation. Right now, it seems like we are in the dark, but light will follow”.
She is also now willing to speak about her father, Ted Arison. “At first, my father didn’t want to leave his businesses to me”, she admits. “Today I understand that it was out of concern. My father’s view towards his daughter was very subjective; he felt that I should stay home with the children. I thought he thought I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t deserving enough, but I now understand that this wasn’t true”.
Along with these stormy times, Arison has also had to face the scandal of her divorce from Ofer Glazer a few weeks ago. It was the last stop in a stormy relationship that fueled the press, particularly embarrassing stories – the height of them – her husband’s conviction in two acts of indecent assault and his going to prison.
“We got along well together from the very first moment”, she testifies. “I loved him very much. I love him very much, it was great fun and I learned a lot. I learned to laugh with all my heart, to enjoy, to do major things that are against my nature.”
She describes Glazer as a great hedonist, who loves to travel and have fun. “He likes everything in extravagance”, she says and points out the difference that perhaps brought about the crisis. “I’m very modest, very shy, very introverted. It was good for me”.
So how did it end? “I went through a very important period with Ofer, but we eventually closed the circle”, she says. “I guess I got what I was meant to have, and he got what he was meant to have, and now both of us have to move on”.
She stands behind him regarding the sexual charges he was convicted of. “He was done an injustice”, she says. “I was at home, I was a witness. Nothing happened”.
So who is Shari Arison, besides the woman and her wealth? “I have a lot to offer, and it isn’t money”, she says. “Shari Arison is a business woman, Shari Arison is a philanthropist, Shari Arison has a generous heart. I have a lot to offer”.