Israeli diamond leaders gathered with family and friends of Moshe Schnitzer in Tel Aviv Monday to view an exhibition of photos from the recently published biography of the doyen of the Israeli Diamond Industry.
The book entitled, The Diamantaire – Moshe Schnitzer, Founding Father of the Israeli Diamond Industry, was published in Hebrew by the Israel Diamond Institute Group of Companies to mark the first anniversary of his passing. It tells the story of the life and career of the man who was known as “Mr. Diamond.”
“I made a commitment to commemorate the life and legacy of Moshe Schnitzer,” Moti Ganz, Israel IDI chairman and president of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association. Since he was a man of books and wrote the first book about the diamond industry in 1946, I felt it was fitting to memorialize him in this way.”
The book reveals that Schnitzer began his career in the diamond industry under protest, when his father took him out of his university studies in philosophy and history to begin work in a diamond polishing plant. Early on Schnitzer showed leadership, organizing a group of young diamantaires who established a competing bourse, when he and his colleagues were shut out of the existing diamond exchange. In the end all members of the industry joined forces and Schnitzer became deputy managing director of the exchange, thus beginning his public career in the Israeli Diamond Industry.
Schnitzer was first elected president of the Israel Diamond Exchange in 1967 and served in this position for 25 years. Through his vision the Israeli diamond center became the largest diamond complex in the world.
The book reveals that Schnitzer was a confidant of many public figures in Israel and around the world, and was sometimes called upon to use his international ties to help Israel’s leaders in sensitive diplomatic matters. Both Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir used Schnitzer to transmit messages to the Soviet Union, partly under the guise of diamond transactions.
In 1968 Schnitzer was elected president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and in 1982 became honorary president. In 2003, he was awarded his country’s highest honor, the Israel Prize, for his life’s work.
During the event, Schnitzer’s daughter Hanna Gertler, noted her father’s optimism which was such an important element in his leadership, and which is particularly appropriate to these times. She quoted him as saying, “There are highs and lows in this industry, but after the hard times always come better times.”
Galia Maor, chief executive officer of Bank Leumi, also spoke at the event. Schnitzer served for many years on the board of directors of Bank Leumi.
The Diamantaire – Moshe Schnitzer, Founding Father of the Israeli Diamond Industry, was written by Merav Halperin and published by Yediot Achronot.