updated 10/20/2010 11:16:05 AM ET 2010-10-20T15:16:05

NEW YORK, Oct. 20, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- "I believe that Israel's economy will continue to grow and be a magnet for foreign investors, based on its tremendous potential and relative advantage," businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison, the owner of the Arison Group, said this morning in a speech at the New York Stock Exchange to mark Israel Day at the NYSE.

The event was organized by the America-Israel Friendship League, which honored Arison with its prestigious Partners for Democracy Award in recognition of her contribution and activity to advance economic relations between the United States and Israel.

"Today the Israeli economy and capital markets have reached a level of maturity that makes them attractive to investors from all over the world," Arison said. "I believe that every well-diversified portfolio should have exposure to Israel and its capital markets. Israel offers incredible investment opportunities, and I say this as a major investor in the Israeli market through the Arison Group, a business and philanthropic group."

In her speech, Arison highlighted her deeply held vision: "To me, business and philanthropy are a platform for doing good, for making our world a better place to live. I believe in businesses that care not only for the bottom line, but also for the future of our children and our planet. This is the way to create a better world – a world that has a strong economy and equally strong moral values.

"Doing good is good business," she emphasized.

Other participants at the event included Trade and Industry Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer; the Chairman and CEO of Arison Investments, Efrat Peled; the Chairman of Bank Hapoalim, Yair Seroussi; the bank's CEO, Zion Kenan; the Chairman of the America-Israel Friendship League, Kenneth Bialkin; the AIFL President, Harley Lippman; the Chairman of the AIFL Board in Israel, Dan Gillerman; the President of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, Nechemia (Chemi) Peres; and the CEO of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, Ester Levanon.

At a festive gala this evening at the Plaza Hotel in New York, the America-Israel Friendship League will honor Arison with its Partners for Democracy Award in recognition of her contribution and activity to advance economic relations between the United States and Israel. The gala will be attended by leading economic figures from Israel and the U.S. The AIFL will also present awards to Bank Hapoalim and to the American corporation Noble Energy. 

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was among those who congratulated Shari Arison for receiving the award. In a videotaped greeting, Clinton said: "Shari, tonight all of us honor you... Your work has impacted the world in a profoundly positive way, touching lives everywhere... Thanks for all you've done - thanks for all you continue to do. You deserve this award."

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