January 7, 2007 / 17 Tevet 5767
At a meeting recently held in the northern coastal city of Acre, Mr. Nochi Dankner, Chairman of the IDB Group, and Mr. Zeev Bielski, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel signaled the commencement of a mutual cooperation program to aid Israel's war-torn Galilee and Gaza Perimeter residents.
The IDB Group, the largest holding company in Israel, pledged 100 million NIS (approximately $25 million dollars) to support and assist communities affected by the second Lebanon war and those still under fire from Kassam rockets in the western Negev. This sum will be given as matching funds to donations contributed to the Jewish Agency through the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod/ United Israel Appeal.
"The resources of the Jewish Agency and Jewish communities around the world have been devoted to strengthen the communities of the North as well as those in Sderot and the Gaza Perimeter region," said Bielski. "This is the immediate national priority of Israel. The way to success is through cooperation by the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and the business sector. The enrollment of leading people from the business community, and at their head Nochi Dankner and the IDB Group, is an act of Zionism to be blessed at any level."
"Following the agreement with IDB," continued Bielski, "the Jewish Agency will act together with the donors through the United Jewish Communities and Keren Hayesod/ United Israel Appeal in order to raise the necessary resources to execute the projects and programs."
"The strength and prosperity of the Israeli economy are very important to us," said Dankner, one of Israel's leading businessmen, "but the fate of the country lies in the unity of the people, as well as the willingness of each and every one of us to join in the effort to improve our lives and strengthen the endurance of our society."
"Therefore, the IDB Group announced at the end of the war that in addition to the aid given to northern communities during the war, it will continue in the coming year to provide aid for projects in the sum of at least an additional 100 million NIS to be used for the reconstruction of the Galilee and the welfare of the residents of the confrontation line in the North and South," continued Dankner.
As the first step of this joint endeavor, Zeev Bielski and Nochi Dankner met with Acre’s mayor, Shimon Lankri, to announce the Jewish Agency and IDB's donation of five million NIS to establish a regional tennis center for the city of Acre and the western Galilee. The Netvision Acre Tennis Center will provide services for thousands of children in Acre and employment for its residents. It is expected to draw tennis players, young and old, of all religions from most of the western Galilee. Plans are to have the center completed well in time to host the Israel Tennis Championships in 2008.
Ravit Barniv, CEO of the Netvision Company of the IDB Group said, "Netvision, as a leading company in its field, is proud to take part in establishing the regional tennis center in Acre. The project and its location dovetail with Netvision's approach of being a partner in contributing to the community." Barniv further stated, "The center will comprise nine tennis courts, as well as a fitness center and recreational rooms. It is the first center of its kind in the Western Galilee."
In addition to the tennis center, the IDB Group has earmarked other projects in Kiryat Shmona, the Galilee panhandle, Ma’alot, Nahariyah and Sderot.
The Mayor of Acre, Shimon Lankri, clearly moved at the signing ceremony said, "I offer my heartfelt gratitude to my friends Nochi Dankner and Zeev Bielski for doing their utmost during the war to aid the residents of Acre and continuing to work diligently to promote the city. I believe that the tennis center is an important project, which will contribute to Acre educationally and socially and position it as a central city in the Galilee, and as a home for sport enthusiasts in the entire region."
Dankner said that he saw the cooperation with the Jewish Agency as an important link to the support to be given by the IDB Group to the residents of the confrontation line in the North and South, and expressed his considerable appreciation of the efforts of the Jewish Agency, and its chairman, Mr. Zeev Bielski.