Israel’s national carrier El Al’s old board of directors is asking Defense Minister and Blue&White Chairman Benny Gantz, Transport Minister Miri Regev, and Minister of Cyber and Digital Matters Dudi Amsalem (Likud) to kill last week’s purchase of the near-bankrupted company by Haredi businessman Eli Rosenberg, owner of Kanfei Nesharim, Globes reported Thursday.
The reason for the sore-loser request is about as nitpicky as can be: The ousted board, led by Tami Mozes-Borovich, whose company, Knafaim, once owned a controlling share of El Al, argues that young Eli Rosenberg (his age has been reported as anywhere between 26 and 29) is not the real man behind the buy, instead it’s his father, Kenny (Naftali) Rosenberg from New York, who doesn’t have Israeli citizenship, which is why he made his son, a full citizen and proud resident of Jerusalem, the majority shareholder – because, as you’ve probably surmised, Israel requires the owner of its national carrier to be an Israeli citizen.
Tami Mozes-Borovich et al are claiming that Eli Rosenberg is just a straw man, acting on behalf of his father, and state in a letter to the three ministers: “We will ask you to consider the request for a permit to control El Al.”
The letter explains: “According to the law and El Al’s regulations, control of El Al must always be in the hands of a citizen and resident of Israel. According to the information obtained by El Al, Kanfei Nesharim is a company controlled by American businessman Kenny Rosenberg, who is not a citizen or resident of Israel. In order to circumvent the legislative restrictions, the shares of Kanfei Nesharim are registered in the name of his son Mr. Eli Rosenberg, a young man who is 26 years old (or could be 29 – DI) who lacks independent means and lacks business experience and all this is to create the false appearance as if the controlling shareholder is so to speak an Israeli resident.”
The old board also informed the three ministers that when negotiations had begun, the Kanfei Nesharim legal representatives showed Tami Mozes and Knafaim CEO Ronen Zioni, the American side sent a photocopy of Kenny Rosenberg’s US passport accompanied by a note saying: “For your convenience attached are the details of Naftali (Kenny) as they appear in his US passport.”
Of course, this will not be exactly the first time in the history of business transactions that the real new owners, for a variety of reasons, prefer to act through a representative – and in this case, this is not some holding corporation in Maryland but the owner’s flesh and blood. But Mozes-Borovich and her losing board offer additional reasons to kill the only hope El Al has seen since the summer of 2018. They also claim that Rosenberg Sr. has a “problematic business background,” which they describe as “prohibited practices of taking money out of the US.”
They also allege that a friend of Rosenberg Sr. paid the US government $1.65 million to dismiss charges against her (otherwise known as guilt by association – DI). According to Globes, they made similar allegations against one other Rosenberg-owned company. All of which comes to pretty close to nothing, seeing as settling with the government to avoid prosecution is part of the normal cost of doing business, in the US and everywhere else.
According to Globes, the former regime’s letter concludes by saying that “in order to avoid violating the law and regulations, we ask to reconsider the request of Kanfei Nesharim for a permit to control El Al.” They also asked for an urgent meeting with government representatives to discuss the terrible idea of letting a young rich kid save the company they couldn’t keep afloat because they were waiting for the Israeli taxpayer to foot the bill.