“Harvey is the only one who can get me here,” said Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, as American Friends of Tel Aviv University honored Harvey Krueger, a Wall Street legend who’s currently vice chairman of Barclays Capital at the Pierre Hotel.
But Harvey was nowhere in sight in the ballroom packed with 400 friends and fans.
No matter. Prosor, calling Harvey “the wizard of Wall Street,” enthusiastically praised him as the Wizard of Oz (Hebrew for “strength”) for getting investors to Israel.
Jacob A. Frenkel, former chairman of JP Morgan Chase International and now governor of the Bank of Israel (as well as chairman of Tel Aviv University’s board of governors), said that Israel never had an investment bank until Harvey came along in 1961. Harvey was the first banker to bring Israel to the international capital markets.
“In Israel,” Frenkel said, “we did not know what an investment bank was. We knew from donations and contributions that we receive, not that we give. We were a nation of schnorrers.”
Harvey, the visionary, told the Israeli finance community, “If you want to realize your dreams, you have to wake up first.”
Harvey taught them that getting contributions is not bad but you have to earn it.
A country with a minimum of natural resources must invest in its human resources, meaning education.
Talking about giving and being creative and entrepreneurial, Consul General Ido Aharoni offered a lesson: Two people were sitting outside a church. One wore a cross, the other a Magen David. People leaving the church donated to the man with the cross. One woman said to the man with the Magen David, “This is highly inappropriate. You should be sitting outside a synagogue.”
The man turned to his friend. “What do you say, Moishe? She’s trying to teach us marketing!”
Dr. Giora Yaron, chair of the Tel Aviv University executive council, said that Harvey has relentlessly focused on higher education. Over the years Harvey has supported Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University as well as Barnard College and Columbia University.
While the speakers relentlessly focused on praising Harvey, the guest of honor slipped into the ballroom halfway through the evening’s gala dinner, just in time to hear his daughter call him “our patriarch.”
His daughter, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, downplayed Ambassador Prosor’s admiration of Harvey as a Wall Street wizard. ”At home we don’t go around calling Harvey a legend,” she said. “It will just go to his head.”
She added, “Harvey’s parents never had formal education. He was the first in his family to go to college. He’s unbelievably stubborn. It’s probably why he became so successful.”
Frenkel introduced Yarden Fanta-Vagenshtein, the first Ethiopian woman to earn a Ph.D. in Israel. As for Harvey, who has only a B.A. and J.D. from Columbia, Frenkel presented him with a Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa.
After the dinner Harvey sent a note to all his friends that due to “an unanticipated health issue” he had to miss much of the dinner. Although he was pleased everybody had a wonderful time, he was “somewhat disappointed that you could have a good time without me being there.”