a different side of Israel

Tag: Business (page 2 of 2)

Pen Power: Blog ‘talk-backs’ are vital PR tools

The classical saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” by playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, couldn’t be more true today as the proven ‘power’ of the written word is making itself felt in a relatively new method of expressing public opinion: the internet blog-site. These instant opinion and commentary vehicles are enabling ordinary people to instantly express their opinion – for better or for worse – in a variety of languages, without having to wait to see if the editors of a particular news periodical are willing to print them. Many of these sites enable the writers to “see their name in print” as well; even though that ‘name’ may be fictitious, or simply their initials.

Israeli blog-sites and talk-back sections of on-line versions of newspapers have literally revolutionized public opinion, and are even making their power felt in regards to political and other sensitive issues as well. Studies being made by organizations dealing with public opinion have made interesting conclusions that comments posted on these instant ‘talk-back’ sites are being listened to by many, often resulting in changes occurring in elections; as evidenced in Israel’s last national election in March of this year. “The Internet has enabled people, especially Israelis and Jews living in the Diaspora to take part in forums on issues dealing not only with events occurring in Israel and in the Middle East, but on other issues effecting world Jewry as a whole”, Amir Gissin, the director of Israeli government’s Public Affairs Department commented recently. And no truer words have been spoken as the convenience of being ‘on-line’ has enabled people to communicate their ideas and opinions instantly, and receive replies and feed-back from other writers – sometimes within minutes.

During the recent war in Lebanon, now being called Israel’s Second Lebanese War (the 1978 Lithani Operation is now considered as part of the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon as the IDF maintained a limited presence on Lebanese soil) a number of internet talk-back forums were opened between writers in both Israel and Lebanon, including some on this very blog-site. Though far from making lasting influences (or forming on-line chat friendships for that matter), these forums at least enabled people who might have never had the opportunity to be in touch with one another; with the possibility of creating at least some kind of amicable understanding of each other’s positions.

“The Israeli Government is very much aware of the influence that these forums have on public opinion. The internet ‘community’ is for sure the communications medium of the future”, Gissin further noted. As the personal email addresses of blog writers are often posted on these sites, it enables people who might have otherwise remained adversaries to freely communicate with each other without actually meeting.

While some talk-back comments are very ‘frank’, even to the point of being a bit ‘off the record’, it at lest enables people to let off steam and enable their true feelings to be known. With what is now transpiring in Israel, in the aftermath of a most problematic conflict, there is no doubt that opinions expressed on blog-sites and media talk-backs will make their mark – all the way to the ballot box.

Quiet Desperation: Being 50+ in Israel’s “Reformed” Economy

By Maurice Picow

Quiet Desperation Nachum Cohen thought he had everything going for him. At age 54, he had a good paying job at an Israeli pharmaceutical company where he had worked as a sales manager for more than fifteen years in the international sales division. He drove a nearly new leased automobile, and lived with his wife and two of their three children in a respectable middle class neighborhood in a community north of Tel Aviv. He and his wife, Susan, often enjoyed weekends away from home, and went on annual holiday vacations abroad.

Everything was fine until one spring day when his boss asked Nahum to step into his office for a few moments, as there was something that needed to be discussed. Not thinking that anything was amiss, Nachum went in to his boss’s office, who asked him to close the door. What transpired afterwards was to change Nahum’s life forever and that of his family as well.

“Well, to make a long story short, Nachum, the sale has resulted in a need to do some ‘restructuring’ here that will require a number of employees to be dismissed. And you, unfortunately, are one of those people.”

Nachum was so filled with disbelief that he simply didn’t know what to say. He just sat there, his heart beginning to race at an accelerating pace.

What he didn’t know, especially not being in the position of having to look for employment for so long, was that his age, and the new economic realities would make it very difficult – if not impossible – to find a similar position with another company, together with the salary and benefits package he had been receiving.

Only months later, after his severance compensation, together with unemployment compensation, was about to run out, would the stark reality of his predicament start to sink in, and with only ‘free lance’ positions, ones which only paid compensation if a sale was made, or ‘grey market’ evening positions in telemarketing and similar low paying jobs being available, would the reality of Nachum’s situation be evident to both him and his family.

Nachum’s age and current economic realities, partially brought on by new economic reforms, quickly created a real ‘reversal of fortune’ for himself and his family, bringing strain and tension within the entire Cohen family.

This story, while fiction, is close to reality for thousands of families whose lives have been turned upside down after losing their jobs and not being able to find new ones due to their ages. Israel, like many other countries, is fast becoming a youth oriented working environment, where job priority is being given to younger workers. Older ones, of Nachum’s age and older, are finding themselves placed on the “scrap heap” of employment opportunities with no where to turn for assistance. Politicians claim to offer solutions to help people find better employment opportunities, especially older workers who slip further through the economic cracks and eventually become a burden on the government’s already strained social service budget.

The nineteenth century American author, Henry David Thoreau, once wrote that most people live lives of “quiet desperation” without being able to make changes for improvement on their own. Is the end result bringing needed changes in the social-economic system of this country? Or, just ‘business as usual’ with the sad plight of older workers, continuing as before.

Internet Firms Enter Markets to Fleece Customers

Daniel and Shiri Evans (not their real names), owners of an independent travel agency, wanted something to boost their dragging bookings of summer tourism packages. The friendly telephone call they received from an Internet marketing company reportedly in the Netherlands, offered to sell them qualified leads of people planning to go on holiday in the near future. “Just complete the credit card authorization form we will send you, and we will open an account for you for N.S. 1,000 , and we’ll send you hot, qualified leads of individuals and families planning to book holiday tour packages by the summer travel season. Our price per “lead” is the equivalent of U.S. $ 5 and the profit you can make on each sale is considerably more. What do you have to lose?”

Well, the idea certainly sounded interesting, especially when told that the company had web sites listed on various ‘search engine’ Internet sites that received literally hundreds of queries each day. Despite apprehensions about giving their credit card information to a strange company, especially a ‘voice on the phone’, Dan and Shiri decided to go ahead and try this for “a month or so”, assured by the salesman that they could stop anytime they wanted and receive a full refund of any unused funds credited to their ‘account’.

After completing the form and sending it back by fax (as required by the lead marketing company), it wasn’t long before the leads began to arrive by email. The initial deposit was taken immediately as well by the marketing company. What the Evans didn’t know was that most of the ‘leads’ were non usable, with either incorrect or false information, or with absurd requests that their travel agency could not fulfill, such as “swingers” weekends or ‘sex holidays’ to Thailand or other locations; or low budget student backpacking safaris to South America or India, with little or no profit to be realized.

After more than two months and nearly 300 such ‘leads’, Dan Evans decided he had enough and requested to cancel the agreement. By that time, more than N.S.3,000 had been taken from their credit card, and by the time they finally were able to have the credit card company stop the payments, another N.S. 1,000 had been ‘sucked’ off by the marketing company.

Despite numerous telephone calls, most of whom were unanswered with only a recorded message instead of a human reply, emails, and letters, Evans finally called off their efforts to retrieve their funds, which amounted to a total of N.S. 5,000, with few of the leads being usable.

Internet marketing scams, such as this one, are all too frequent in today’s web-based marketing and e-information oriented world. Whether they involve service industries, travel and entertainment, or any number of other areas, millions and millions of Dollars, Pounds and Euros are being ‘slurped’ from naïve and trusting business enterprises as well as the general public.

Dan and Shiri learned a relatively cheap lesson, compared to many others who lose much more in similar fraudulent transactions. With the annual travel and removals season soon upon us, take these “words for the wise” to heart before agreeing to a telephone sales pitch.

Arkadi Gaydamak – Billionaire, Sports Fan, Newspaper Owner, Arms Dealer, did I miss anything..

Arkady Gaidamak in Israeli News
I can’t keep up. Too much happening too fast. Arkady Gaydamak (53) is all over the place. I planned to write this piece on this phenomena called Arkady (Arcadi or Arkadi) Gaydamak (an Oligarch) and as I am writing these words there are 2 new news bits that involve the Gaydamak family. This is like trying to nail Jello to the wall, and as you will see, apparently some law enforcement agencies seem to think the same thing.

Let’s start with the old news. Gaydamak moved into Israel and did some local shopping. He bought Jerusalem’s Beitar Jerusalem, a rather controversial soccer team. He then also bought a basketball team and donated $400,000 to a third team just to keep things fair.

But the shopping spree started earlier with this little acquisition reported in Russia:

“That changed this week when Gaydamak acquired the Moskovskiye Novosti, a leading Russian liberal publication from the time of perestroika. The St. Petersburg Times reported that “Arkady Gaydamak, a Moscow-born businessman with four passports and a controversial past, confirms that he had bought the weekly newspaper.”

“Gaydamak seems still to be close to the Angolan government and he is definitely involved in Angola’s Sunland Mining, a company in which Alrosa is believed to be the largest shareholder. As is well known, Sunland is one of the official buyers of rough diamonds from Angolan state company Sodiam. Gaydamak once was in partnership with Lev Leviev. Though they publicly talk nicely about each other, there is no doubt that there has been a fall-out between these ex-partners.”

Forbes had an interesting article about Gaydamak, shedding a little more light about the Angola (alleged Angola) connection and the connection to Lev Leviev, owner of Africa Israel, the largest real estate behemoth in Israel, and someone who had gone on several shopping sprees himself a few years back:

“A friend of his (Lev Leviev’s), Arcadi Gaydamak, an alleged arms dealer with Israeli and Russian citizenship, was an adviser to Dos Santos. According to the Center for Public Integrity, in the mid 1990s Gaydamak (wanted in France for illegal arms trafficking) negotiated a forgiveness of Angolan debt to Russia, in exchange for arms. In January 2000, a month after Leviev’s Ascorp was awarded the exclusive on Angola’s diamonds, Gaydamak bought 15% of Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments. Within a year Leviev bought back Gaydamak’s stake. A quid pro quo? “He offered to sell me the shares at a good price,” says Leviev. “This was a time before Mr. Gaydamak had legal problems.” While the two are no longer business associates, they remain chums.”

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