There is complete agreement that Dov Lautman deserves the honor of the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, for his contribution to the country and to its people. He represents all the best of Israel - and its history. Even though he is a figure from the past in some ways, he is still constantly looking toward the future. A man of principle who is always willing to help.
At 71, Lautman was the founder and is now chairman of Delta Galil Industries. He built an "old industrial factory" with his own hands, but was also the first local industrialist to understand that it was necessary to manufacture items abroad instead of demanding help from the state to compete with foreign producers. He also did not rest on his laurels - or profits - and constantly adapted his business to the changing world. He was the head of the Israel Manufacturers Association from 1986-1993, and served as the prime minister's special representative in charge of advancement of foreign investment and economic development from 1993-1995.
Delta was the first traditional industry in the country to become a global manufacturer. It also served as a bridge of peace to Jordan and Egypt by setting up cooperative ventures, while other enterprises continued to ask the government for help.
When Delta hit hard times a year and a half ago, Lautman returned to the CEO's office for a year to rehabilitate his company.
"It is a great honor to receive the prize and I would like to thank the awards committee," said Dov Lautman yesterday when he heard the announcement.
"I hope I will continue to be worthy of the prize in the future, too. I am at the age where the future is still ahead of me," Lautman told TheMarker.
The prize committee cited him as someone who has set an example for others for 40 years, while working to build Israel's economy, as well as to promote peace.
Lautman said that he was "most proud of the fact that a small town in the Galilee is the center for a global company, which is one the world leaders in undergarments and socks. We are one of the five largest [of these] companies in the world. Secondly, I am proud of the coexistence within which we manage the business - where Arab, Jewish, Druze and Christian employees have worked for 31 years."
This proves, he explained, "that it is possible to live in Israel in harmony and coexistence. I am proud each time I see a beautiful product leave the development lab or the production line. I have been in the textile business for 40 years and still wake up in the morning and love to go to work, and hope that I will continue to do so in the coming years."
Lautman added that he is worried about Israeli society, and if something is threatening the country, he said, it is not the Iranians or Hamas, but the growing gaps in education, and those between rich and poor, between Jews and Arabs, and between the ultra-Orthodox and the non-religious. That is why Lautman says he's spending a lot of his time and effort on educational activites and nonprofit organizations that promote coexistence.
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