Nineteen families control one-third of Israel's economy, including much of the Jewish state's news media, according to a study released today.
The families all have given campaign contributions to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and foundations associated with newly installed Israeli President Shimon Peres, WND has learned. Most of the families support major leftist Israeli organizations.
The Concentration Index, which measures the wealth of families who control companies that affect all aspects of the lives of regular Israeli citizens, published its annual study today reporting 19 families take in one-third of the revenues of the 500 leading Israeli companies. The leading companies own most of Israel's news media.
The top five families on the list, including U.S. media mogul Haim Saban, control 61 percent of the income of these 19 families – up from 54 percent in 2005.
Saban is a top supporter of Peres and of major Israeli and international organizations petitioning for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and sections of Jerusalem. Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005; since then rockets have been regularly launched into nearby Jewish population centers. The West Bank is within rocket-firing range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel's international airport.
Today's Concentration Index study follows a Forbes Magazine report from last year revealing 12 business groups control more than 60 percent of Israel's economy, making it among the most concentrated in the world.
The 12 groups include Saban's organization and a group controlled by Matthew Bronfman, who was recently installed as leader of the World Jewish Congress, a major Jewish organization. Forbes contended the groups constructed their empires, which own about 60 percent of the aggregate market value of all Israeli public companies, using organizational methods that were abolished in the Western world in the 1930s.
The groups reportedly achieved tight economic ownership by structuring their companies in pyramid-style, putting top holding companies in charge of smaller companies that all are beholden ultimately to the 12 groups. The U.S. largely eliminated this style of privatized influence nearly 80 years ago through a series of restrictions on ownership and the implementation of double taxation of dividends paid by a company to its parent organization.
The Forbes article stated the 12 groups have a disproportionately large amount of control over Israel's economy and the country's media through ownership of many of Israel's top banks and large media companies.