The first and youngest prospective buyer for Israel’s national carrier, El Al Airlines, has just involved one of the most internationally connected men in America in his effort.
Eli Rozenberg, a yeshiva student in his twenties living in Jerusalem has made a $100 million bid for 45 percent of the airline’s shares, which would give him control of the company if accepted. His father, Kenny Rozenberg, is said to be the one who is really behind the purchase and to that end, El Al asked the younger Rozenberg last month to provide more information about their financial relationship.
This Sunday, Israel’s Finance Ministry planned to present a new aid package for El Al; the Israeli government had initially offered $250 million in bank loans in exchange for the airline issuing $150 million in shares, which the state would buy in its public offering, assuming that no one else got there first.
But now there’s a new twist: the younger Rozenberg has invited President Donald Trump’s former Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt to join his team of advisers.
In addition, The Jerusalem Post reports that Rozenberg said he would like Greenblatt to serve as his representative on the El Al Board of Directors, if he succeeds in buying the airline.
Greenblatt has made no comment – at least, not directly. He has, however, adroitly published an op-ed in the English language edition of Israel Hayom, expressing his admiration for the airline on the very same day that this news broke.
“Even before the massive difficulties caused by COVID-19, El Al had been suffering financially,” Greenblatt noted. “Big changes need to take place to fix these difficulties. . . Serious solutions must be found to strengthen El Al and to get it ready for the new future.”
Combing a careful tone of optimism, hope and sober realism, Greenblatt underlines the current difficulties and points out the challenges that lie ahead, but still manages to emphasize the effort is not only worth it, but eminently achievable.
“Israel needs a national carrier that can show its best side and get people to and from Israel with the level of service, style and sophistication that a powerful country like Israel deserves,” Greenblatt writes.
It is in the final paragraph that the long-time business attorney appears, making his involvement clear.
“As with all processes of this magnitude, there are layers of complexities and politics to contend with. No surprises there, and I am no stranger to those issues. We are hopefully approaching the other side of COVID-19, and with the newly announced Abraham Accord between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain announcing they are permitting all flights to fly over their airspace (hint, that includes El Al), there is no more important time to focus on the issue of El Al. It is time for El Al to properly get ready to spread its wings again, get people back to work, and get people to and from Israel in a manner deserving of a powerful country like Israel.
“May the best man, or woman, win.”