Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Ellul 5761 - September 5, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Real Estate: The Rothschilds Did their Part . . .

by Pinchas Moses

After more than a hundred years the Interior Minister has decided to violate the condition upon which the Rothschild Family consented to donate more than 75,000 acres of valuable land to the State.

The story began way before the first years of the State of Israel. The grandson of renowned philanthropist Edmund de Rothschild, wanted to help the new nation-in-formation, and found an original means of doing so by transferring more than 75,000 acres of family-held land. He set one condition for the contribution: that out of all of the tens of thousands of acres transferred to State ownership, a "small" tract be set aside for the family in the area of Caesaria.

And since it's generally considered unwise to argue with such important contributors, the State "agreed" to accept the contribution along with the attached condition.

Thus the decision was made to set up the Caesaria Fund, in which the State is also involved. The fund was designed to develop the residential area of Caesaria and the nearby industrial zone (a total of 7,500 acres). It was decided that the money received from the sale of plots would be designated as donations. Levi Eshkol, who was prime minister at the time, did not oppose such a generous proposition and signed the agreement with the Rothschilds.

But one small clause was included in the agreement, stipulating that the area remain extra-territorial -- unincorporated into any municipality. Another small clause stipulated that the extra-territorial status would apply until 2123.

Now, the hundreds of villas built on the expensive plots in Caesaria can be easily seen from the highway. But over the last decade an industrial zone has also been built to the east of the city, in close proximity to Or Akiva, another urban area. Some 120 factories have been constructed on 875 acres, employing 4,500 workers. This economic boom allowed the Caesaria Fund to distribute extensive contributions, most of which went to the educational system in Or Akiva. But from the standpoint of the heads of the local council there, the arrangement was not so rosy. As an extra- territorial zone, the factories in the Caesaria industrial park do not pay taxes to any local council.

In order to appease the neighbors, former Interior Minister Chaim Ramon decided to "discontinue" the agreement originally signed with the Rothschilds 123 years ago, well before its expiration date. Accordingly Ramon decided to divide Caesaria's industrial park among nearby local councils, thereby obligating the factories to pay local taxes.

The Caesaria Fund was furious. It is not every day that someone scorns the representatives of Baron Rothschild in such a manner.

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