A Longing for Leaders

The Failure of Arafat and Sharon

"We have been meeting for the past few months, to see if we have the same agenda, but they are not secret meetings," said Dov Lautman, 66, chairman of Delta Galil Industries, a textile manufacturer specializing in underwear. "And it's not just businesspeople; there are professionals, academics, and defense guys. All people who want to do something. We are trying to find what we can do to help, to influence public opinion and, in turn, influence the politicians.

"It is not simple to influence politics in Israel," Dov sighed. "In Israel, most politicians don't say the whole truth or what they really believe is right for the country. They say what will help them survive politically."

Dan Propper, the former head of the Manufacturers' Association and current chairman of the Osem Group, which makes Israel's favorite cookies and crackers, is not a member of that "secret" group, but he is keeping his eyes open for new talent.

"Leaders are born in hard times and if these are not hard times then I do not know what hard times are," Dan said. "I believe that leaders are born, you can't just nominate them. I don't see that born leader yet. But I am an optimist—we will find someone to carry the load.

"Once that happens," Dan said, "we in industry should be alert enough to prevent the old politicians from killing off the new ones. We must support them from the beginning, build greenhouses around them until they can stand on their own feet."

He may be an optimist, but Dan does not think any cease-fire will bring a real peace during Arafat's time.

"We will have to wait longer, until there is a new leadership in the Palestinian state," he said, "and by that time we also will have succeeded here in finding new leaders."


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