Saying that BellSouth Corp.’s investment in the Israeli telecommunications market was “one of the best things” that the company had ever done, John L. Clendenin, BellSouth’s chairman and CEO, accepted the 1995 Israel Trade Award at a banquet attended by some 400 people at the SwissÙtel in Buckhead Nov. 29.
Mr. Clendenin called the rapid growth of Cellcom Israel Ltd., BellSouth’s joint venture with the Safra Group of Brazil and two Israeli companies, Discount Investment Corp. and Israel Aircraft Industries, “arguably the fastest growing cellular operation throughout the world.” After only 11 months of operation, the company serves 175,000 customers and is expected to have more than 200,000 by the end of the year.
Cellcom customers are charged only 2.5 cents per minute, a price Mr. Clendenin said is “in the lowest basket of cellular prices,” but necessary for the rapid development of a mass market for the service. He said that an extensive communications network would help the country develop other economic sectors more quickly.
He also credited Joseph Safra of the Safra Group for first making him aware of the opportunity of developing a communications network in Israel, and thanked him for his “wise counsel and support.”
Alon Liel, director general of the Israel Ministry of Economy and Planning and consul general of Israel to the Southeastern United States, based in Atlanta, from 1990-1992, received the First American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Region Founder’s Award.
Dr. Liel currently is responsible for the Israeli government’s plans to develop infrastructure projects with neighboring Arab states. He said that in the aftermath of the killing of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israel showed its “solid foundation” of democracy, and that the peace process has more backing today than ever.
Calling for economic integration with Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon, he said “a standard of living ideology,” which would bring economic development to all countries in the region, was the best hope for widening the peace process. Israel has a per capita gross national product of $16,000 in comparison to $1,200 in Jordan and $650 in Egypt, he added.