Grapevine: Spring cleaning

It’s amazing how many dignitaries and celebrities think they can get away with illegally employing foreign workers.

March 26, 2010 16:25
3 minute read.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

ehud barak 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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IT’S AMAZING how many dignitaries and celebrities, let alone people who generally regard themselves as law abiding, think they can get away with illegally employing foreign workers. Among those caught in the act were former Finance Minister Avraham Hirschson, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and cosmetics queen and former MK Pnina Rosenblum. Now, another household name has been added to the list – that of fashion model and actress Miri Bohadana, who is usually featured in the gossip columns with regard to her ongoing affair with international businessman Bebo Kuba, with whom she shares a luxury villa in Rishpon and with whom she has a child and is expecting another. The reason that they spark so much interest among gossip columnists is that Kuba is still married to his wife, and seems in no hurry to divorce her. Apparently the couple illegally employed a Chinese housemaid with whom Bohadana had a very warm relationship. The housemaid, who is to be deported, came to Israel from Egypt and has been working for Bohadana and Kuba for two years. When immigration police knocked on the door in Rishpon, Bohadana asked them to wait for a moment, then opened the door and invited them to search wherever they wanted saying that she had nothing to conceal. After searching inside the house they went down into the pool area where they found the housemaid hiding in the bushes. Bohadana's initial reaction was “How am I going to get this house clean for Pessah?” After that she embraced the maid, whom the immigration police took away. Bohadana will have a lot to answer for in the weeks ahead.

REPOSITIONING ISRAEL was the title of a conference held last week at the Rishon Lezion College of Management Academic Studies (COMAS). No, it did not suggest that Israel find another place on the map for itself. As is so often the case, it was an image issue. Ido Aharoni, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commissioner, reinforced the need for Israel to shake off the mantle of “the new apartheid state” and redefine itself to the international community.

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Conference speakers examined the impact of recent events on the perception of Israel, and how they overshadow the country’s achievements. Among the speakers were Professor Michael Perry of the COMAS Department of Behavioral Sciences, Ronen Plot, Director General of the Diaspora Ministry, Joanna Landau, founder and CEO of Kinetis, Professor Carlo Strenger from the Department of Psychology at Tel Aviv University, Benny Bronsky from the Institute of Creative Thinking and Don Herman, author of The Making or Faking of Emotionally Significant Brands. There was consensus on the need to move the emphasis away from the Palestinian conflict and on to Israel’s achievements in many other areas.

Aharoni, who is responsible for the Foreign Ministry’s branding of Israel, spearheaded the launch of the much-debated “Masbirim” website. “Crisis management is the only context in which the world is capable of seeing Israel,” he said. “This is all very well but certainly not enough. Israel’s positioning has to be a holistic process, not focused on a single narrow aspect. It should address a range of life areas such as tourism, increasing exports and foreign investments, providing exposure to Israeli culture and more.

“What are our rivals doing? Years ago, the ‘apartheid’ category became vacant, so Israel was declared ‘the new apartheid state,’ from the Security Fence to comparing Marwan Barguti to Nelson Mandela. We, however, play into their hands by insisting on keeping talking about the conflict instead of about our assets as a state.”

Perry, who initiated the conference, said: “The worst mistake about the branding of Israel is thinking that people are rational and that it is enough to present factual and effective arguments to correct the image issue. It is important that we wake up and realize that emotions and psychology are far more important than rationale in branding processes. The emotions determine the relationship between human beings. This is exactly the reason that Prof. Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel Prize.”

DESPITE COMPLAINTS about Israel’s education system, the number of educational facilities is growing. Industrialist Stef Wertheimer, who has done a lot to encourage industrial initiatives, last week inaugurated the Tsur ORT School for Industrial Excellence in Arad and announced that he will give a special prize to the most outstanding student in the current academic year.

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