THE HIGH fashion stores in Tel Aviv's Kikar Hamedina are gearing up for the visit by Carla Bruni, the wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is due to land in Israel with her husband and an entourage of some hundred people on June 22. A former fashion model who likes to dress well, Bruni has reportedly expressed a desire to see some of the upscale apparel stores. A senior source at the Israel Foreign Ministry has denied these reports, saying that the packed two-day schedule of France's first couple simply does not allow her the time to go shopping. However, the proprietors of high-end fashion stores remain optimistic. If somehow she does go shopping it would be a shame to take her only to Kikar Medina, where most of the elegant creations are imports from Paris and Milan with designer labels with which she is already totally familiar. To get a perspective of Israeli design talent, she would be much better off going to the northern end of Dizengoff, but from a security standpoint, Kikar Hamedina is less problematic. In an interview on Israel Radio, Zvia Valdan, who is the daughter of President Shimon Peres and who will accompany Bruni during her visit here, said that most of what has been published in Israel about the visit is untrue and that Bruni's schedule includes much more serious things than shopping. FORMER US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer seems to be on a perpetual commute, and is in and out of the country like a yo-yo - sometimes to promote his baseball interests, sometimes to visit his family here and sometimes to promote his academic and political interests. On June 25 he will be here to discuss his new book Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East. Kurtzer will deliver his lecture at Tel Aviv University, where he will meet up with a lot of old friends. THE QUEEN'S birthday brings with it many honors for individuals of note. One person who received an MBE from Her Majesty in the New Year's Honors, is still glowing half a year later. Yinnon Ezra, Director of Recreation and Heritage with the Hampshire County Council, has won several awards during his career, but nothing quite equals getting an award of any kind from the monarch. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Institute of Leisure Managers, he has many relatives and friends in Israel whom he knew in his boyhood, and they too are basking in the honor bestowed upon him by Her Majesty. ONE OF the capital's famous lions is now guarding the municipality of Metulla. In honor of the 10th anniversary of the Metulla Poets' Festival, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yigal Amedi presented Yaacov Katz, the head of the Metulla Council, with the lion. The beast, which bears a Star of David on its flank, has taken up a stance opposite Metulla's Town Hall. FASHION COMPANY Replay has donated sweat-shirts valued at NIS 15,000 to Tel Aviv University's Girls for Girls program, a mentoring project conducted through the university's School for Social Work in conjunction with the Ministry for Social Welfare and non-profit organizations dedicated to developing services for youth at risk. The program trains girls and young women aged 17-21 who come from underprivileged backgrounds and households of distress to act as mentors for younger girls from similar backgrounds. Trainees in the program come from all over Israel. AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR James Larsen was in Jerusalem on Sunday to attend the opening at the Cinematheque of the Fifth Australian Film Festival. Prior to the screening of Unfinished Sky, which was very well received by the audience, Larsen said that films provided a means of looking into other cultures and other people's hearts. He added that the Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv will continue to support cultural exchanges between Australia and Israel. From Jerusalem, the Australian Film Festival is proceeding to Cinematheques in Sderot, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Tel Aviv. Larsen intends to be present at the opening of the film festival in Sderot this coming Sunday, June 22. Meanwhile, he was at Hayarkon Park on Wednesday to attend a practice session in which the AFL (Australian Rules Football) Peace Team, initiated by the Peres Center for Peace and the Al-Quds Association for Democracy and Dialogue, kicked the ball around in advance of their upcoming trip to Australia to compete in the AFL International Cup. The team was assembled by the Peres Center and Al-Quds Association, who are seasoned in the art of using sport to bridge gaps and encourage interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. The players are scheduled to travel to Melbourne in August. Since very little AFL is played in the Middle East, most of the 30 Israeli and Palestinian athletes had to learn an entirely new sport, including new rules, new strategies, and new techniques for passing and kicking the oval-shaped ball on the oval shaped field. The team members have been working together since January, practicing twice a week with professional coaches to perfect their skills. Among the Israelis are Ethiopian immigrants and Australian ex-pats, residing in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Beersheba, Yeroham and elsewhere. The Palestinian participants are also a diverse group, coming from Tulkarm, Jericho, east Jerusalem and beyond. The team represents a diverse religious spectrum, including orthodox Jews, brothers Ari and Ronen Goldsmith, originally from Melbourne, who will also catch up with relatives and old friends when they go back to their home town to play. Their father, Dr. Michael Goldsmith, whose own sport is running, is also an avid football fan and is seriously considering accompanying the team to Australia so that he can watch his sons play and be part of the family reunion. According to Guy Peleg, Sport Department Director at the Peres Peace Center, the Israelis and Palestinians have put differences aside and have bonded in facing the AFL challenge. ALTHOUGH IT'S more than four months since the annual Irish Film Festival at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque, Irish expats and fellow travelers were out again in force this week in response to an invitation by genial Irish Ambassador Michael Forbes, who has initiated an annual Bloomsday celebration in conjunction with the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. This year, in a departure from exploring James Joyce's Ulysses, which follows the progress of Leopold Bloom around the City of Dublin, Forbes chose another of Joyce's works, The Dead, as seen through the eyes of John Huston's 1987 film of the same name based on the final story in Joyce's 1914 collection Dubliners. RECIPIENTS OF prizes for outstanding employees awarded by the family of the late Professor Yechezkel Kishon, who founded the Cardiology Department at the Edith Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, were doctors Michael Vizling and Daniel Torchinsky, nurse Carolina Beider and head of technical services Moshe Gal. AT THE initiative of Herzliya Mayor Yael German, Professor Zeev Tzahor, President of Sapir College near Sderot, will receive the Herzl award in recognition of his exemplary Zionist spirit. At the award ceremony scheduled for this coming Sunday at the Herzliya Center for the Performing Arts, Tzahor's courage and determination as an educator who is committed to providing higher education to students regardless of the dangers of daily rocket attacks from Gaza, will be cited. Tzahor was selected for the NIS 50,000 Herzl prize because the adjudicators considered him to be an outstanding example of the Zionist enterprise.