Landa Center for Equal Opportunity Through
Benny Landa, who has 'almost realized a dream,' calls his NIS 7.5 million gift
An inauguration ceremony of sorts captured the essence
of this year’s low-keyed 31st Meeting of the Board of Governors. It was the inauguration of the
for Equal Opportunity Through Education, established with a
7,500,000 gift by Patsy and Benny Landa. Their credo is that “only when all [which they emphasize] of
’s citizens have an equal opportunity in our society, can they truly be an integral and loyal part of it.”
Benny Landa, born in
to post-World War II refugee parents, grew up in what he described as a “poor but loving home” in
. He eventually fulfilled a dream by immigrating to
—where he founded Indigo, a leader in digital color printing systems. Machines had always been a second dream of his. The innovative Israeli company
is now a division of the huge Hewlett-Packard Corporation, and his machines, labeled “made in
,” are now shipped worldwide.
Landa declared his admiration for the “bold leadership role” that the University has assumed in promoting the rights of the country’s Arab minority. “We salute the
’s pursuit of equality, social justice, and equal opportunity for all of
’s citizens,” he stated at the ceremony inaugurating the center bearing his name.
"I don’t ‘donate,’ I invest"
[Following are remarks delivered by Benny Landa
at the ceremony inaugurating the new center.]
I am delighted to be here with you today to inaugurate the
for Equal Opportunity Through Education. I would like to share with you our hopes for this program; but first, please allow me to tell you a little bit about myself.
I was born in
. My parents, who were also born in Poland, escaped to Russia at the outbreak of the Second World War, where my father was taken to a forced labor camp; my mother did the best she could to raise her then-only
child, my older brother, in unspeakable wartime conditions. At the end of the war, reunited, they made their way out of
– where I was born – and eventually to a refugee camp in
, where I spent the first two years of my life. Finally, my family immigrated to
, where I grew up. My father was a carpenter, who for many years struggled to make a living. I grew up in a very poor but loving home.
As a young man, I dreamed about two things: machines and
. I eventually moved to
, where I founded a high-tech company called Indigo, which now, twenty-six years later, is a division of Hewlett-Packard. Indigo is the market leader in digi
color printing systems for the commercial printing market. It ships the most magnificent machines to the four corners of the globe. And every one of them says "Made in
Israel". For me, my dream has come true.
Well, not quite. The machines are everything I had dreamed they would be. But
Israel? Well, we still have a way to go. I used to think that the greatest threat to the future of
was conflict: at first between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, then between religious and secular, and more recently between
and the Palestinians. But time has taken care of the Ashkenazi-Sephardic issue, now all but forgotten. And time will do the same for religious-secular differences. As for the conflict between
and its neighbors, that too will be resolved. There will be a border – and relatively soon. Whether that border runs a kilometer or two east or three kilometers west is irrelevant. There will be a border and there will be peace.
Today I am more concerned about what kind of country we will have inside that
border. I still dream of an
that is “or lagoyim” – a light unto the nations. An
whose children receive a first-class education. An
of equal rights – and of equal opportunity – for all of its citizens. An
whose leaders are personal examples of integrity and accountability. Yes, we still have a way to go…
Which is the reason I am standing here with you today. My wife Patsy and I are proud to join hands with the
to help shape a society in which all of
's children—rich or poor, Jewish or Arab—have an equal opportunity in life, starting with higher education, and an equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
I am not a philanthropist. I am an industrialist who loves this country. I don’t “donate,” I invest.
How do you decide in what to invest? Just as in judging investments in high-tech companies, it’s not how badly the support is needed, but
rather: How great is the opportunity? How capable are the people? How large will the returns be? So, too, with investment in students. They are united, not by their common need (most Israeli students are needy), but by how great an
opportunity they represent, how
ented they are, and how great a payback they can make to society. They are the very best. They will be tomorrow's leaders—of science and industry, of art and of commerce—leaders of the country.
The programs we support have as their theme equal opportunity through education. They are dedicated to the underprivileged – new
, kids from poor homes, and Arabs. For only when ALL of
’s citizens have an equal opportunity in our society can they truly be an integral and loyal part of it. Without that, what kind of a society would we have?
But the promotion of the rights of
’s Arab minority is, especially in these difficult times, controversial. It has little popular or political support. We are proud to stand here with you today, President Hayuth, the faculty, staff, and Board of
Governors of the
, and declare our admiration and support for the bold leadership role that this institution has assumed. We salute the University’s pursuit of equality, social justice, and equal opportunity for all of
One day, when the global economy recovers—and it will—and when there is a rapprochement between
and the Palestinians, which too is inevitable,
will experience unprecedented growth and prosperity. When that day comes, hopefully, all of
’s citizens will, finally, be able to focus on the simple pursuit of happiness.
Patsy and I thank you for the privilege of participating in this noble enterprise.
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