AFTER MONTHS of wrangling between the Channel Two board of directors and Keshet and Reshet, the channel's two franchisees, it looks as if the major obstacles to Rafi Ginat's appointment as head of the Channel Two News Corporation have been removed. According to law, the appointment required the approval of 75 percent of the members of the board. While Mozi Wertheim, who holds the controlling interest in Keshet, and Udi Angel, who controls Reshet, were keen to have Ginat replace Shalom Kital, who resigned after 12 years at the helm, Channel Two chairman Yitzhak Livni and board member attorney Rachel Ben-Ari, were opposed to Ginat, believing that he might be the servant of his masters rather than of his profession. For a while they succeeded in blocking the appointment, but then strings were pulled to have them both replaced.
Meanwhile, the News Corporation could not be left without an editor-in-chief. Avi Weiss, the editor of the main Channel Two nightly newscast, was appointed interim head of the News Corporation until such time as a permanent appointment could be made. Livni and Ben Ari, whose terms of office expire this Thursday, were not alone in their opposition to Ginat. MKs Shelly Yacimovich (Labor), Ran Cohen (Meretz) and Arieh Eldad (National Union) appealed to the High Court of Justice to issue an order that would prevent Nurit Davosh, the chairperson of the Second Broadcasting Authority for Television and Radio, from relieving Livni of his position. The appeal was rejected and Livni and Ben Ari were subsequently voted off the board. Livni's likely replacement will be Yehuda Lancry, a well-known public figure who in the past has served in a variety of positions. He has been the Jewish Agency emissary to France, head of the documentary film and publications department of Rafael Armaments Industries, mayor of Shlomi, chairman of the Second Channel Public Council, lecturer on French literature at the University of Haifa, ambassador to France, Knesset member and Ambassador to the United Nations.
There is no guarantee that Lancry will be a yes-man who will vote in favor of Ginat, and he may be no less angry than Livni and Ben-Ari that Wertheim and Angel are trying to bypass the proper channels to push through their candidate while ignoring the special selection committee. The appointment has become an extremely controversial issue - more so since Kolbotek, the investigative consumer affairs program launched by Ginat more than 20 years ago, developed into a program that also probes business practices that are not exactly kosher. It would be interesting to see how Ginat would have handled a similar situation to his own on Kolbotek.
THE MAJOR players in Israel's business community are increasingly traveling the highway to Jerusalem. A couple of weeks back, hundreds of them flocked to the capital to celebrate Jerusalem Day and to join the new Jerusalem Economic Task Force, which is headed by Africa Israel Chairman Lev Leviev, whose company owns and is developing considerable property in Jerusalem. This week, not quite as many turned up to congratulate developer Alfred Akirov at the launch last night of the Mamilla Mall. On Wednesday, many of the captains of industry, hi-tech gurus and venture capital mavens will be supporting a veteran Jerusalem-based institute, albeit at an event in Tel Aviv. The institute is the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design whose President Arnon Zuckerman has invited the business community and well known art collectors to a public auction that will have a certain sadness attached to it as it will be the last such auction to be held at Sotheby's in its present location. The stately, grand old building on Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard, which was originally constructed for the Levin family, later became the address of the Soviet Embassy. It was subsequently acquired and renovated by Akirov's Alrov Group, and a large section of the premises was leased to Sotheby's.
Billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak was reportedly interested in buying the building, but in the final analysis it was sold last November to Canadian billionaire Gerry Schwartz, the founder and CEO of Onex, which is one of the largest corporations in Canada. Schwartz wants to make the building the headquarters for his Israeli business and philanthropic operations, so Sotheby's has to relocate into new premises. Thus the auction on Wednesday, which is ostensibly to raise funds for Bezalel's new downtown campus in the capital's Russian compound, is also an au revoir party for Sotheby's. Invitees, who inter alia include Eliezer Fishman, Galia Maor, Yitzhak Tshuva, Gad Zeevi, Leon Recanati, Sammy Ofer, Ami Federman, Shlomo Nehama, Shmuel Dankner, Zvia Leviev, Reuven Adler, et al will bid for 122 works of art, all of which have donated by the artists, some of whom are graduates of Bezalel.
AMONG THE local chains in the Mamilla Mall is Castro, which in addition to opening two stores in the new upscale enterprise - Castro and Castro Men - is also opening a first time venture - a Castro Coffee Bar, which will look out on the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. Castro co-CEO Gabi Roter is very excited over the new development. Castro has invested NIS 3 million in its new concept stores and coffee bar in Mamilla.
COMPETING WITH Akirov's Mamilla affair was the launch of a new CISCO-sponsored women's empowerment program at a Movers and Shakers night in Tel Aviv to which prominent members of the business community such as Yossi Vardi and Yehuda Zisappel were invited along with Vice Premier and Kadima's presidential candidate Shimon Peres, US Ambassador Richard Jones, Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski, JDC Director-General Amnon Mantver and other well known figures.
ELEM CHAIRPERSON Nava Barak conferred a special citation on Danny Schwartz, deputy marketing manager of Entco in recognition of the company's sterling work on Elem's annual flag of lights project, which concludes on Israel Independence Day when the national flag lights up a high rise tower in Tel Aviv through donations to Elem. Each donation of a relatively small sum of money adds another light to the flag. Entco, which is one of Israel's largest marketing companies for Magic Radar digital television systems, set up a television camera on the tower of the Channel 10 building in Givatayim, enabling on line around-the-clock photography of 590,000 "candle" lights on the flag of hope displayed on the Azrieli tower in Tel Aviv. Elem is the last ray of hope for thousands of Israeli adolescents at risk.
ALL GOOD things come to them that wait. After a protracted period in which the public was waiting for the completion of the square tower in the set of towers with which architect, real estate and shopping mall developer David Azrieli changed the Tel Aviv skyline, the good news is that construction of the square tower has come to an end. The tower, which incorporates a boutique hotel for business people built by Lev Leviev, will officially open in the first week of June.
EVERY ORGANIZATION, institution or project that receives a cash donation, knows how to spend it, but even if the money is used wisely, once it's spent it's gone. When businessman Ami Sagi and his wife Lizica decided to make a donation to the Netanya Academic College they chose a gift that can only appreciate in value, which will attract attention and which will improve the aesthetics of the college - they selected 10 paintings by Menashe Kadishman who is one of Israel's best-known artists.
HP ISRAEL has announced the appointment of Sari Grazi as head of sales operations in the company's division for technological solutions.
AMONG THE products most identified with Israel world wide are the Ahava Dead Sea skin care treatments the components of which include Dead Sea minerals. Ahava products are available in such well-known department stores as Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Sephora, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, Selfridge's and many others. The company recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a huge party on the shore of the Dead Sea for 1,000 of its clients and leading lights of the business community. The cost of the bash was $200,000, which leads one to conclude that Ahava is doing quite well. Speakers at the event were Arieh Cohen, chairman of the Ahava board of directors; Yaacov Ellis, Ahava CEO; and Benny Gaon, president and chairman of Gaon Holdings.