Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug, Ministry of Finance Director-General Shai Babad to Headline Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy & Society

Israel Democracy Institute's leading economic conference will focus on integrating innovation into the government, actuarial crisis, and role of business press, among other topics

The Israel Democracy Institute's 23rd annual Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society will take place May 24-25, 2016 at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem. Formerly known as the Caesarea Forum, the event will bring together leading economists, government ministers and officials, prominent business people, public servants, academic experts, and other top representatives from the public and private sectors. In total, there will be 70 people sitting around the table, engaging in deep, quality discussions and delving into the most important related topics on the public agenda.

This year, the conference will focus on the challenges of government and the economy, and the influence that political stability has on the ability of the government to advance reforms and impact the performance of the business sector and the effectiveness of civil service. It will also look at the right way to integrate innovation into government ministries, the dynamic and rapid changes in the functioning of the workforce, the collapse of the financial market, the result of people retiring at older ages, and the role business press plays in Israel.

Key participants include: Ministry of Finance Director-General Shai Babad, Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office Eli Groner, Governor of the Bank of Israel Karnit Flug, Leader of the Opposition MK Isaac Herzog, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Chief Technology Officer of the United Kingdom Liam Maxwell, Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.

Simultaneous audio translation in English will be available. Press must RSVP to Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, Director of International Communications, at 050-718-9742 or and bring a valid GPO card. 

See full schedule below 


9:00-9:45 a.m. - Welcome and registration

9:45-10:00 a.m. - Opening Remarks
Mr. Yohanan Plesner, President, Israel Democracy Institute
Prof. Eugene Kandel, Conference Chairman, CEO, Start-up Nation Central

Ze'ev Elkin, Minister of Immigrant Absorption and Minister of Jerusalem Affairs

10:00-11:45 a.m. – Session One
Long-term Vision: The Strategic Plan of the Ministry Of Finance
Ministry of Finance Director-General Shai Babad will present the Ministry's strategic plan, focused on reducing inequality and increasing productivity and growth. Department directors from the Ministry will share their expertise and following their presentations, each presenter will be asked to talk to their plans' goals and how they plan to implement them.

Presenters: Udi Adiri, head, energy unit, Ministry of Finance's budget department; Mr. Shai Babad, Director-General of the Ministry of Finance; Ms. Dorit Salinger, Director of Capital Market, Insurance and Saving Department, Ministry of Finance; and Adv. Dror Strum, Head of Committee to Increase Competition in Retail Banking

Opening remarks: Dr. Yossi Bachar, Chairman of the Board, Israel Discount Bank; Mr. Shraga Brosh, President of Manufacturer's Association of Israel; Mr. Alan Feld, Founder and Managing Partner of Vintage Investment Partners; and MK Moshe Gafni, Chairman of Knesset Finance Committee; MK Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, Israeli economist and chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education

Open Discussion

Closing Remarks:
Prof. Avi Simhon, Prime Minister's Senior Economic Advisor

11:45-12:15 – Break

12:15-2:00 p.m. – Session Two
How to Make the Israeli Government More Effective
(Based on research by the Israel Democracy Institute)
"There is a direct correlation between the effectiveness of the government and the level of its economic development, so much so that it is theoretically unclear who leads who." This quote is found in the research report of Prof. Momi Dahan on the topic of government effectiveness. His research compares different criteria and indices which measure the effectiveness of the civil service and government and investigates their connection to government effectiveness. These criteria include: centralization of the government and its budget, professionalism of the public sector, and the connection between recruitment policies of workers and their salaries. The key findings of this research will be presented at the outset, allowing the conference participants to then engage in an open discussion on the subject, in order to draft policy recommendations on the subject. This discussion comes in the wake of a public discussion on how to appoint senior civil service officials, which could vastly affect the public sector.

Presenter: Prof. Momi Dahan, Associate Professor, Feddermann School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Opening Remarks: Moshe Dayan, Civil Service Commissioner; MK Roy Folkman, Chair, Special Committee to Discuss the Motion for the Agenda on Difficulties in Reforming the Civil Service; Mr. Eli Groner, Director-General, Prime Minister's Office; Mr. Amir Levi, Director of Budgets Department, Ministry of Finance; Mr. Yohanan Plesner, President, IDI; and Mr. Haim Shani, Co-Founder and General Partner of Israel Growth Partners and former Director General of Israel's Ministry of Finance

Open Discussion

Concluding Remarks:
MK Ayelet Shaked, Minister of Justice

2:00-3:00 p.m. – Lunch

3:00-4:30 p.m. – Session Three
Innovation in the Public Sector: Dream or Reality?
(In cooperation with Start-up Nation Central)
Led by Ministry of Finance Accountant-General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu
The majority of countries in the world emphasize innovation as a central catalyst in their strategies to guarantee long-term economic growth. The ability of Israeli society to reinvent itself and lead innovative processes has been the bedrock of the development of its economy and society. However, the ability to advance innovation in the public sector has become increasingly challenging in recent years. This session will help to cultivate the necessary operational model for the government to foster and allow for innovation, support entrepreneurial expansion, deal with constraints, and encourage long-term strategic thinking in the civil service, while leveraging past experiences.

Opening Lecture: How Britain Approached the Challenge of Digital
Led by Liam Maxwell, Chief Technology Officer, United Kingdom

Presenters: Prof. Eugene Kandel and Leonid Bakman, Founder and Executive Director, Israel Innovation Institute

Opening Remarks: Retired Judge Joseph H. Shapira, State Comptroller and Ombudsman, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Shmuel (Mooly) Eden, Former Senior Vice President at Intel Corporation and President of Intel Israel; Michael Eisenberg, Founding Partner, Aleph; Eyal Gura, Founder and Co-Partner, Zebra Medical Vision; Prof. Eugene Kandel; Imad Telhami, Founder and CEO, Babcom Centers; Mr. Amit Lang, Director-General, Ministry of Economy; and Dr. Yair Schindel, CEO, Digital Israel, The National Digital Bureau

Open Discussion

4:45-6:15 p.m. – Workgroup Discussions
Practical Measures to Improve Quality of Life in Israel
Led by Mr. Shraga Brosh, President, Manufacturers' Association of Israel

Innovation in the Public Sector – Dream or Reality?
Led by Prof. Eugene Kandel

How to Make the Israeli Government More Effective
Led by MK Roy Folkman and Yohanan Plesner

Bitcoin, 'Friendly Loans' and Everything in Between: How Have These Phenomena Contributed to Changes in the Israeli Finance System And Economy?
Led by Prof. Nathan Sussman, Director of Research Department and Member of Monetary Committee, Bank of Israel

6:30-6:45 p.m. - Does the Media Influence the Government or Vice Versa?
Led by Yaron Deckel, head of Galei Tzahal, the army radio station

6:45-7:15 p.m. – Workgroup Summation

7:15 p.m. – Dinner
An intimate conversation with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

Standup Comedy performance on the Government and the Economy
Led by Lior Shlein, "On the Nation's Back," Channel 10


9:00-9:30 a.m. - Welcome

9:30-9:45 a.m. – Opening Remarks
Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug

9:45-10:30 a.m. – Session Four
Don't Forget the Pensioners: Senior Employment and the Actuarial Crisis
This session will analyze the global need, as well as Israel's to increase the retirement age due to longer life expectancies, developments in the workforce for the elder population and their impact on employment. It will also deal with mechanisms that protect the weakest sectors ahead of this new retirement age and how to balance between these mechanisms and incentives to work into a more advanced age.

Presenter: Prof. Nathan Sussman

Opening Remarks: MK Eli Cohen, Head, Knesset Committee for Economic Reforms; Anath Levin, Deputy CEO Head of Finance, Credit and Investment Division, Clal Insurance Ltd; Yael Mevorach, Accountant-General, Ministry of Finance; Dr. Udi Nissan, Chairman of Delek The Israel Fuel Corporation, Ltd, and Lecturer, Feddermann School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Open Discussion

11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. - Break

12:00-12:15 p.m. - MK Isaac "Bougie" Herzog, Leader of the Opposition

12:15-1:30 p.m. - Session Five
Labor Relations in Israel: What is the Desired Unionization Model?
As can be seen from comparing OECD countries, different models of unionized work directly impact important issues, including distribution of income, inequality, levels of productivity, and more. The session will deal with the desired Israeli model, considering the unique character of the economy and society in the State of Israel and in light of disruptive employment models.
Presenter: Prof. Yotam Margalit, Senior Fellow, IDI, Associate Professor of Political Economy at the Political Science Department in Tel-Aviv University

Opening Remarks: Adv. Kobi Amsalem, former Director of Wages Department, Ministry of Finance; Chen Lichtenstein, President & CEO, Adama Agricultural Solutions; Mr. Aiman Saif, Director General, The Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druze and Circassian Sectors, Prime Minister's Office; MK Aida Touma-Sliman, Chair, Committee on Status of Women and Gender Equality; and Dr. Michal Tsur, Co-founder, President and CMO, Kaltura; and Mr. Itzik Tzaig, Chief Executive Officer and Vice President, Osem Investments Ltd.

Open Discussion

Concluding Remarks:
Avi Nissankoren, Chairman, Histadrut labor federation

1:30-2:30 - Lunch

2:30-4:15 p.m. – Session Six
The Business Press

Opening Lecture: What the Business Press Can and Should Be: Lessons from The Economist
Led by Ryan Avent, Senior Editor and Economics Columnist, The Economist
The Public, Businesspersons or the Government: To Whom Does the Business Press Answer?
This session will explore how the business press functions in Israel. Is it independent? Are their interests transparent to the public? Who and what is considered "financial media?"

How many economic media outlets can and should exist in the small media market?
Moderator: Tamar Ish-Shalom, News anchor, Channel 10

Participants: Shlomo Filber, Director General, Ministry of Communications; Hagai Golan, Editor-in-Chief, Globes; Galit Hemi, Executive Editor, Calcalist; Mr. Sami Peretz, Editor-in-Chief, The Marker; Avner Stepak, Shareholder and ex CEO, Meitav Dash Investment House

4:15-5:00 p.m.: Closing Session
Prof. Eugene Kandel
Mr. Yohanan Plesner

Final Remarks
MK Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Defense Minister