A fine example

Stop carping - business philanthropy is just what we need.

Something has happened in Israel. Leading businesspeople are making generous donations to the community. Their number include Nochi Dankner, Avi Fischer, Zvi Livnat, Meir Shamir, and Sammy Ofer.

As someone who has been involved in community activities at various levels for over 20 years, it is hard for me to understand some of the media, which hastened to disparage these businessmen, instead of praising them.

Anyone who raises money for the community knows how hard it is. Regrettably, Israel lacks a culture of philanthropy. Yes, there is ad-hoc organization, and yes, there is a small and closed circle of donors, but that is still a long way from a deeply ingrained culture of philanthropy.

In view of these circumstances, it was regrettable to see several newspapers lambaste the generosity of Dankner and the others. Why can't these acts be perceived solely in terms of welcome generosity? Quite simply, these acts are worthy of headlines and praise.

One of our most important goals is to educate the next generation of businesspeople to this culture. A culture of giving, and not only of receiving. Dankner and those like him are an example and model. Why does some of the press want to find fault? Why is so hard for them to heap praise?

"Globes" saw fit to explain to its readers how the state was "losing" NIS 1.2 billion. First of all, "Globes" has made a mistake, and regrettably misled its readers. Nochi Dankner's donation was carried out in such a way that the state "loses" nothing. What is more important, in my opinion, is the size of the donation, not quibbling over the method of taxation. A donation of NIS 4 million is better than one of NIS 1 million.

Furthermore, the simple truth is that the state and community get back almost 70% of his salary. How can this be called a "loss"? By the way, if Nochi Dankner, like any other businessman in the world, had instructed his aides to handle the donation in the most efficient manner and by law, then he would have paid slightly less in taxes. But no one would have lost! Everyone still profits. This is the main point I want to make. Nochi Dankner and the others are finally causing society to look a little different. "Profiting and giving" is a wonderful example and worthy of emulation by the next generation of businesspeople. And that is what is really important.

If we want to create a better culture, the media ought to take a time-out from searching for the next aggressive headline, and to praise the philanthropists. We need a culture of giving and donations, just as we (sometimes) need a media culture giving credit where it's due.

Adv. Shmuel Zysman is a founding partner in Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co. Law Offices. He is the founder of Lev Ohev, chairman of Ret, and chairman of Friends of Maccabi World Union

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on March 31, 2005

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