Former MAI presidents

Avraham Kalir (1962-1963)

Born in 1903 in Bukovina, Romania, Avraham Kalir studied chemical engineering in Toulouse, France and was active in the Hashomer Hatzair movement. After immigrating to pre-state Israel in 1934, he went into the manufacturing business and founded Argaman-Textile Dyeing Plants in Ramat Gan. At the request of the government, the factory relocated to Yavneh in 1966. In 1953, Kalir served as the director of the Leather and Textile Department at the Ministry of Supply and Rationing.

In 1962, Kalir accepted the position of chairman of the directorate of the Manufacturing Association (MAI). His public work was extensive: He served as councilor on the Municipal on behalf of the Progressive Party and sat on the board of directors of Bank Leumi and of the Dead Sea Works, the board of trustees of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the directorate of the Technion in Haifa, and the Ort board of management. He received the Outstanding Citizen award of Ramat Gan. He also founded the Beit Zvi School of Arts in Ramat Gan in memory of his son Zvi, who fell in the war of Independence.

In 1976, the MAI awarded Kalir the Industry Award, and in 1977, he won the Israel Prize in recognition of his outstanding service to labor and industry. In 1985, as representative of the founding fathers of Israeli industry, he was one of the 12 honorees at the traditional Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony. Avraham Kalir died in 1985.

 

Avraham (Buma) Shavit (1975-1981)

Avraham Shavit was born in 1927 in Tel Aviv. In his youth, he worked alongside his brother in the family business, an oven production factory. After finishing school, he joined the Palmach and later went to study industrial organization at Cambridge. Upon returning to Israel, he was conscripted into the air force, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Shavit began his public career in 1956, when he joined the youth bureau of the JCJ, where he eventually served as world president. He was also one of the founders of the Kenes Group.

In 1970, he was elected chairman of the executive committee and deputy president of the MAI. In 1975, while still running the family business, he began to serve as president of the MAI and chairman of the economic organizations’ liaison committee. In these roles, he was active in the area of labor relations, attracted many younger people to the MAI, and was instrumental in raising public awareness of the importance of buying local (“blue and white”) products.

In 1979, he was appointed executive chairman of the board of directors of El Al (with an annual salary of one dollar…). He was also a member of the board of trustees of the Technion, the board of management of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People, the Technion directorate, and the board of management of the Diaspora Museum.

 

Eli Hurwitz (1981-1986)

Eli Hurwitz, recipient of the Israel Prize, industrialist, leader and public figure, was born in Jerusalem in 1932. He graduated in economics from Tel Aviv University and began his career in industry in 1953. In 1976, he was appointed CEO of the pharmaceutical company Assia.

With strategic farsightedness, Eli Hurwitz instigated the merger of several Israeli pharmaceutical companies into one company, Teva, with the aim of leading the Israeli market forward and creating a base for future international expansion.

Under his leadership, the Teva Group became the largest pharmaceuticals manufacturer in Israel and the world leader in generic drugs. He achieved this by introducing an organizational culture of excellence and consistently following a vision that looks ahead beyond the horizon. Eli Hurwitz served as CEO of the Teva Group until 2002 and then as chairman of the group.

 

Arye Shenkar (1930-1959)

Arye Shenkar was born in 1878 and was one of the heads of the Hovevei Zion movement in the Ukraine. He moved to Moscow at the age of 20 and bought the Lodzia factory from its six founders, including Braun and Yehuda Leib Mozes. In 1932, he moved the factory to Holon and at the same time continued his Zionist activities. In 1925, he immigrated to pre-state Israel and bought the Lodzia factory from Eliezer Braun. Most of the factory’s workers were Jews who originated in the Polish town of Lodz (hence the name Lodzia).

In 1936, the factory relocated to Holon, which at that time suffered from harassment by Arabs who sought to isolate the town from Tel Aviv. In 1930, Shenkar was elected as the first president of the Manufacturers Association, but with his characteristic modesty, requested that he be called “chairman of the directorate”, rather than “president”.

He held this position in the association for 29 years and become one of the country’s leading figures, influencing and leaving an indelible impression on the development of its industry. Arye Shenkar died in 1959.

 

Dov Lautman (1986-1993)

Dov Lautman was born in 1936 in Tel Aviv and studied at MIT in the USA. In 1963, he was appointed CEO of Sabrina Textiles and later CEO of Gibor Textile Industries. Delta, the factory he founded in 1975 in Karmiel in the Western Galilee, employed women from surrounding development towns and Druze villages.

Delta conquered the European markets and became a major exporter of Israeli-made textile products. In the MAI, Lautman served as chairman of the finance committee, chairman of the labor committee, chairman of the executive committee, and Eli Hurwitz’s deputy and acting president. In 1986, he was elected president of the MAI and chairman of the economic organizations’ liaison committee.

In 1982, Dov Lautman was recipient of the Industry Award, in recognition of his work as an industrialist and entrepreneur. Karmiel awarded him the Outstanding Citizen award in 1985. Lautman worked for the advancement of productivity and the development of information systems, and promoted industry-oriented education and public relations activities. Throughout his career, he believed strongly that Israel can grow stronger and raise its standards only if Israeli industry continues to grow and develop.

 

Dan Propper (1993-1999)

Dan Propper was born in Israel in 1941. He completed a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and food technology at the Technion and started working in the family business, Osem. In 1968, he was appointed manager of the factory in Bnei Brak and between 1981 and 1986 held the position jointly with his brother Gad. He left Osem and turned to private business, but was called back, and from 1987 to 2006 served as sole CEO. In 1995, he initiated negotiations that culminated in Nestle’s acquiring partial ownership of Osem.

From 1993-1999, at the same time as working in Osem, he served as president of the MAI and chairman of the Israeli economic organizations’ liaison bureau. In 2006, the Histadrut Labor Federation awarded him a certificate of appreciation for the good labor relations he maintained in Osem during his term of office. He handed over management of the company to Gazi Kaplan and currently serves as chairman of Osem.

Propper sits on the executive committee and board of directors of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the directorate of the Technion, and the board of directors of several industrial companies. In 1999, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Technion for his contribution to the economy and to Israeli industry.

 

Dr Yoel Augusto Levi (1963-1965)

Dr Yoel Augusto Levi was born in Italy in 1888 and studied law in Milan. He was active in the Zionist Movement in Italy and chaired the local Zionist Federation. In 1938, he immigrated to pre-state Israel together with his family and joined the ranks of the Hagana. He then made a career change and became involved in industry and the economic life of the country.

One of his achievements was the organization of the Bank Discount Investment Corporation, of which he was appointed CEO. His friendship with Arye Shenkar led him to the MAI, and he became a member of the executive committee and chairman of the legal department. In 1964, he was appointed chairman of the academic directorate of Tel Aviv University.

He became president of the MAI after Avraham Kalir resigned and members of the association begged him to take up the post. During his term of office, he focused on developing hi-tech industries and improving Israeli industry’s competitiveness vis-à-vis foreign industry. He also strove to foster good work relations with the Histadrut Labor Federation. Dr Yoel August Levi died in 1975.

 

Zalman Suzayev (1965-1969)

Zalman Suzayev was born in 1911 in Riga, Latvia. In his youth, he gained prominence as one of the heads of the the Hasmonean Union, a Jewish students’ organization, and as a star soccer player for Hakoah Riga. Following his immigration to pre-state Israel in 1935, he entered the import business and wholesale trade. In 1949-50, he served as president of the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Trade Bureau Association, was active in the General Zionist Party, and served as deputy minister for trade and industry in the government of Moshe Sharett.

In May 1965, Zalman Suzayev was elected president of the Manufacturers Association, a position he held for 4 years. He sat on the advisory board of the Bank of Israel and was chairman of the public council for security loans.

As president of the MIA, Suzayev left his mark on internal organizational affairs and in consolidating a clear economic policy to guide the association in its various struggles. In 1974-75, he chaired the directorate of Rassco.

Zalman Suzayev died in 1981.

 

Yehuda Bar-Natan (1960-1962)

Yehuda Bar-Natan was born in Poland in 1903 and educated in Germany. He immigrated to pre-state Israel in 1934 and became a partner in the alcohol factory Hatoses. Bar-Natan instigated the merger of 10 oxygen factories in Israel into two large factories in Haifa and Tel Aviv and, in the 1970s, controlled 9 factories in Israel, including a beer factory, a yeast and alcohol factory, and an aluminum tube factory.

In addition to his work as an industrialist, he was very active in the public sphere as a member of the executive committee of the MAI, chairman of the executive committee, member of the board of directors of the Israel Industry Bank, and representative of the Association on various boards, such as the Bank for Industrial Development. In 1959, following Arye Shenkar’s death, he agreed to take on the position of chairman of the directorate of the manufacturers association, at the request of his colleagues. His term in office is referred to as the “post-Shenkar” period.

Bar-Natan resigned from this position after only two years in office because of health issues, but continued to fill other roles in the association. Many remember Bar-Natan as a reserved person, gentlemanly in appearance and personal style, referring to him as “a quiet industrialist”. He died in 1989.

 

Mark Moshvitz (1969-1975)                                                                                                 

Mark Moshvitz was born in 1920 in Rostov, USSR. He studied in London and then studied chemistry at Cambridge. He immigrated to pre-state Israel at the age of 20. In 1941, he began to work in the Elite factory, of which his father was one of the founders. In 1961, he became the chairman of the concern’s board of directors.

From 1959, he held key positions in the Manufacturers Association, including chairman of the export committee, chairman of the food division, and chairman of the executive committee. From 1964 to 1969, he served as chairman of the Israel Exports Institute and in 1964 was elected chairman of the Israel Industry Bank’s board of directors. In the summer of 1969, Moshvitz was elected president of the Manufacturers Association. As president, his perception of, and attitude towards, industry and the national responsibility resting on industry’s representatives was innovative. His organizational abilities were exceptional, and his leadership style quiet, yet charismatic.

Other positions he held included heading a project for providing a “roof for every developmentally challenged child” and he gave considerable publicity to the topic of special needs children. He was active in the Technion and founded Beit Dani in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, in memory of his son, who died in an aircraft accident. In 1978, Moshvitz was appointed a member of the advisory committee of the Bank of Israel and, in 1979, chairman of the board of directors of the Melacha Bank. The MAI presented him with a special Industry Award in 1983. In 1989, he was elected chairman of the First International Bank’s board of directors.

 

Oded Tira (1999-end of 2004)

Oded Tira was born in 1940, the son of Dov Tiras, who was the commander of an artillery battalion and also manager of Yizrom Bulbs in Jerusalem and the Ramle Motors factory. In 1958, Oded Tira was conscripted into the IDF and served in the artillery and paratroopers corps. After his military service, he studied industrial engineering and management at the Technion. Upon graduating, he worked as production manager in the Vultex factory in Afula and in the Vita food factory. During the Six Day War, he fought under Motte Gur in the 55th reserve brigade and took part in the liberation of Jerusalem. During the War of Attrition, he volunteered to serve as a reservist at the Suez Canal. He then enlisted as a career soldier, serving as deputy commander of a heavy artillery battalion. He studied in the Military Academy and was appointed operations officer of an artillery support regiment in Sinai, where he fought during the Yom Kippur War. He took part in the crossing of the canal and the encirclement of the Third Army.

At the end of 1973, he was appointed battalion commander and then commander of the artillery officer training course. In 1977, he was appointed commander of the Kidon support unit. After studying in the National Security College, he became Southern Command central artillery commander and was a member of the joint Israeli-Egyptian committee for implementation of the peace accord. In 1982, he oversaw the evacuation of Hevel Yamit and was appointed commanding officer of the artillery corps.

After leaving the army in 1987, Tira began a business career in the Phoenicia America-Israel company and was appointed company president in 1989 by Mr. Bill Davidson, who bought Phoenicia from Koor Industries. Since 1999, he has served as chairman of the company’s directorate. He is also chairman of the directorate of Milestones Investments. He received the Industry Award in 1994. In 1999, he was appointed president of the MIA. In 2006, he partnered with educators, public figures, business people and academics to found the Israel Leadership Institute and has served as the institute’s chairman since its inception.

 

Zvika Oren (2012-2014)

Zvika Oren was born in 1947 in Tel Aviv. He completed his military service with the rank of brigadier-general, serving as commander of the Ordnance Corps. He founded Amit Local Industry Ltd., whose main interest is rail transportation. The company owns a factory in Dimona, M.T.R – Railway Industry Enterprises Ltd, which produces different types of freight wagons and provides maintenance services for the freight wagons owned by Israel Chemicals Ltd. The company is involved in all rail-related projects and has established a company for freight rail transportation, whose main business is transporting garbage to the South and sand for construction purposes to the North.

Zvika Oren has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Technion in Haifa (1973) and a master’s in political science from Haifa University (1988). In the MAI, he served as chairman of the Knesset committee, chairman of the committee for small and medium-sized factories, chairman of the labor committee, and member of the directorate from 2009.

 

Shraga Brosh (2005-2012, 2015- present)

Shraga Brosh, president of the MAI and chairman of the directorate of business organizations, was elected to a third term of office in January 2015, having served as president of the MAI for two consecutive terms from 2005 to 2012. Brosh has been active in the MAI as a manufacturer since the mid-1980s and served in a number of public positions.

Brosh is a representative of the ‘younger generation’ in industry, and alongside his work as MAI president, he serves as chairman of the Y. Brosh Group, founded by his father. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and business management from Bar-Ilan University.

Born in Ramat Gan in 1953, he studied in the electronics technician track in the Ort School and worked in the family-owned factory Brosh Ovens (formerly Crystal). He did his military service in the communications corps and completed an officers’ training course in 1973. During the Yom Kippur War, he served in Rephidim and was appointed deputy brigade commander for communications. As a reservist, he reached the rank of brigadier-general and served as commander of a communications battalion. After completing his military service, he joined the family business, and in 1998 the company acquired a failing textile company called Ayelet Barkan. Since then, the family has been running the factory, which is located in the Barkan Industrial Park and produces synthetic yarn for carpets.

Brosh was a member of the Likud movement and in 1993-2006 was a councilor on the Ramat Gan Municipal Council, representing Zvi Bar’s independent list. As councilor, he was responsible for the city’s cultural, leisure and informal education activities. He has been active in the MAI since the mid-1980s, holding several positions. In 2001, he was appointed chairman of the Export Institute by the MAI directorate, headed by Oded Tira, and in 2005, replaced Tira as president of the MAI and chairman of the economic organizations’ liaison committee.