Prime Minister’s International Task Force for Economic Recovery Embarks on Practical Projects

Leading Jewish businessmen from around the world, and top Israeli executives and government officials have ended four days of consultations in the framework of the Prime Minister’s International Task Force for Economic Recovery.

Judging by the statements of these usually ultra-cautious men, the feeling is one of optimism. “What we’ve been doing is relatively unglamorous, ” said Charles Bronfman. “But, by heaven, it’s going to work.”

Bronfman, the Canadian-American businessman, and Morton Mandel of Cleveland, Ohio, are two deputy chairmen of the Task Force, whose chairman is the veteran U.S. Jewish leader, philanthropist and businessman, Max Fisher of Detroit, Mich.

Fisher said the assembly, held in Jerusalem, was “the start of continuous activity.” The Task Force has split into eight panels, each with high-powered permanent staff and each already embarked on detailed and practical projects involving the fusion of overseas and Israeli business.

One important aspect of the Task Force’s thinking is to harness the resources of Jewish retail chains in Europe and the U.S. for the marketing of Israeli products (providing these can compete successfully price-and-quality-wise.) The British firm of Marks and Spencer, founded by leading Anglo-Jewish Zionists, has long been a leader in this direction, and Israeli policymakers hope to establish similar relations with other major outlets.

Israeli ministers who attended the deliberations and took an active part in the Task Force’s work included Ariel Sharon (Commerce), Gad Yaacobi (Economic Planning) and Avraham Sharir (Tourism). Finance Minister Yitzhak Modai also gave much time to the assembly and follows the Task Force’s progress with close interest.

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