Oved Ben Ami
Oved Ben Ami (Dunkner) was born in 1905 in Petah Tikva. His father, a refugee from Rumania, was a founder of the city and his mother, nee Zelalyachin, was an early Bilu pioneer. In 1918, Ben Ami organized and headed the Ari Friends’ Association. He organized a committee to receive the first immigrants who reached Palestine after the First World War. Already at a very young age, he demonstrated an interest in journalism, and in 1920 he became a reporter for the daily, Doar Hayom and the weekly, Palestine Weekly. He later became one of the founders of Maariv newspaper, and served as chairman of Modi’in Publishers Ltd.
In 1922, Oved Ben Ami was one of the founders and operators of the Maccabee-Avshalom Association, secretary of the General Federation of Labor’s Benei Binyamin branch in Petah Tikva and later, secretary-general of the Federation of Labor. He was active in the establishment of the first Jewish settlement project in Benei Binyamin, Kfar Aharon, as well as the Benei Binyamin settlement in Herzliya. In 1928-1929, Oved Ben Ami founded the city of Netanya and the village of Even Yehuda, and served as the first mayor of Netanya. He also proposed and founded the port city of Ashdod.
Oved Ben Ami first conceived of the idea of founding a diamond industry in Palestine. In 1938 he invited the two first diamond manufacturers, Asher Daskall and Zvi Rosenberg, to the city of Netanya. With the first funds raised, the country’s first polishing plant, Ophir, was founded. For the fledgling industry, Oved Ben Ami helped recruit Belgium diamantaires and obtain rough, which was only achieved after the direct intervention of Otto Oppenheimer. Ben Ami founded the Association of Diamond Industry Owners in Israel Ltd., which he chaired from 1949 to 1950.
Oved Ben Ami passed away in 1988.
He was awarded the title of Diamond Industry Dignitary in 1989.