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Monday, January 17, 2011 

Meet Rami Levy, Zionist entrepreneur

Israel National News has an interview with Rami Levy, a businessman who's primarily into the supermarket biz, but is entering the real estate biz to boot, starting with his purchase in Nof Zion, which has helped save the neighborhood from a takeover by Fatah sympathiser Basar al-Masri:
Israeli supermarket magnate Rami Levy recently got involved in a new business – real estate. And not just any real estate; several days ago, Levy made a successful bid to take over development of the Nof Zion project, a new Jewish neighborhood in lands liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War that was in danger of being purchased by an Arab businessman.

In an interview, Levy told Israel National News TV's Yoni Kempinski that he was investing in the project, of course, because it was a good business move – but also, he said, because “of my love for the city of Jerusalem and its importance to the Jewish people.”

Levy is a businessman – a successful one, judging by his accomplishments in the supermarket business. But he's a businessman with a “neshama" (soul). As he tells Israel National News TV, one of the reasons he gives such high discounts in his supermarkets is because “it helps some families 'finish the month' with their food budget, or even helps put meals on their Shabbat table.” Levy is in business to make money, but he tries to do it by sticking to Jewish and Zionist values.

Call it “Jewish capitalism.”

Levy's new foray into real estate could turn out to be his most important one, from a Zionist point of view, as it rescues the neighborhood from the clutches of Arab-American businessman Bashar Al-Masri, who was willing to pay a pretty penny to the bankrupt builder of the project, Digal. “This is going to be a large neighborhood,” says Levy, who is also a member of the Jerusalem City Council. “Ninety homes have already been built, and another 300 are planned. There is no reason why Jews should not live there.” The opportunity to take over the project was an attractive one, he says, both from a financial and ideological perspective. “It's a business opportunity, but also an opportunity to invest in Jerusalem in a major way. I love Jerusalem and prefer to invest here than in other places.”

[...]

Levy's “Jewish capitalism” extends to his business practices as well, including discounting, not only as a means of pulling customers into the store, but as a means of helping lower-income families stretch their food-shopping shekels. “I work hard to make sure that the total bill a family can expect to pay for their food costs is between 20% and 25% lower here than in other stores,” he says. As a result, the chain runs specials, especially around the holidays; last Rosh HaShanah, Rami Levy stores charged customers only one shekel per kilo for chicken, apples and honey!

Of course, he says, he wants to make a profit – and he does. But it's important not to forget the human aspect of business relations, Levy says. “I try to help out the customer, enabling him to buy products he wants that he may not have been able to afford. Profit is important – I have to pay the bills – but helping out others and giving the customer a good feeling is also important.”
He's done more than help food customers - he's helped real estate customers too, not to mention people who rightfully worry about encroachment by Islam. Even earlier, he made an ideal decision to cancel all orders of Turkish food in response to their growing anti-Israel hostility. I wish there were more people like him, who could even make special investments in companies in the USA that are in need of rescuing (say, in the book biz, though for now, it's another story). He's done a good deed, and I hope he goes on to really build up his business investments and ownerships in other industries besides the supermarket biz.

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I work for his Yafiz clothing chain.

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