Jews Control the Bank No More

Apartheid? Nah. Arabs continue to reach as high as they want to go in the Jewish state.

Moshe Shai/Flash90

History was made when Bank Leumi, one of Israel’s largest banks, appointed the first Arab to serve as chairman of the board.

Dr. Samer Haj-Yehia was chosen by the bank’s board to replace David Brodet, who served as chairman since 2010. Haj-Yehia has been a member of the bank’s board for the past four-and-a-half years.

“The banking world has undergone substantial changes in recent years, and we will take steps to continue to position Leumi as a leading, innovative and successful bank,” the new chairman said in a statement.

Haj-Yehia has a Ph.D in economics from MIT, an MBA in finance and banking, an MA in economics, a BA in accounting and economics and a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to his membership on the Leumi board, the new director serves on the board of the Hadassah Medical Center and the Israeli Council for Higher Education. Haj-Yehia has held senior positions with major investment firms in the US, including vice president for financial engineering at Fidelity, one of the largest investment companies.

He is also active in community volunteer programs working to advance employment opportunities for Arab-Israeli communities.

“Samer is very talented. He broke the glass ceiling and will serve as a model for young people in Arab society,” Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi said.

Bank Leumi, or Israel’s National Bank, was founded in Jaffa in 1902 by members of the Zionist movement “to promote the industry, construction, agriculture, and infrastructure of the land hoped to ultimately become Israel.”

Today, Bank Leumi is one of Israel’s largest banks with overseas offices in US, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the UK, Mexico, Uruguay, Romania, Jersey, and China.

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