Grapevine: Business matchmaker

PUBLIC RELATIONS guru Ran Rahav likes to marry his clients to each other. He's always happiest when some promotional campaign includes at least two clients. Thus he was in his element last week at the opening in the old Tel Aviv Port of the Magnum Concept Store, the brainchild of Ofra Strauss, chairwoman of the Strauss Group. The main attraction was understandably the Magnum ice cream produced by Strauss. However the store is much more than an ice cream parlor. The cream-and-brown decor, obviously chosen to convey the colors of chocolate-coated ice cream, also proved suitable for companies such as florist Vered Shamir, Emporio Armani watches, Emanuel shoes and bags, Madina Milano makeup with accompanying studio, ID Design and Steimatzky. Entry on opening night was by invitation only, and couples and families strolling across the boardwalk could only gaze through the plate glass windows and across the low fence at celebrities and lesser-known people gorging themselves on ice cream and other frozen refreshments inside the store, and on a more extensive menu in the fenced-off area outside. Guests were able to concoct their own preferences at the busy ice cream bar, opting for vanilla, chocolate or coffee-flavored ice cream dipped in bitter chocolate, white chocolate or milk chocolate and then selecting a coating of coconut, chocolate sprinkles, colored sprinkles, crushed pecans, etc. One of the first celebrities to arrive was Orna Datz, who was immediately surrounded by paparazzi. Seconds later, they turned to focus on Galit Gutman, Danny Roup, Gilat Ankori, Sheli Gafni (who has joined the ranks of pregnant celebs) and other faces familiar from the small screen. Also present was former Knesset member and minister from the now-defunct Shinui Party Avraham Poraz - living proof that you can take the man out of politics but you can't take politics out of the man. Poraz, who was holding forth on the current political situation, told anyone within hearing distance that "we've returned to 1999." The same people are there, he said. "This one's making a comeback and that one's making a comeback…" Ofra Strauss, who like several others brought her children, mingled happily with the crowd, her smile reflecting the many compliments she received for what is a truly unique venture in Israel. Unfortunately it will last only till July 21. But who knows, if it proves to be commercially successful, Strauss and her friends and business colleagues may decide to open a permanent concept store with an even broader base that will involve more of Rahav's clientele. There's certainly a very impressive list from which to choose. AT THE Israel Radio and Television studios in Tel Aviv this week, Israel Broadcasting Authority chairman Moshe Gavish, in presenting the proposed IBA reforms to a news conference, noted that of the three ministers to whom he had pleaded the IBA's case, only one, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was still in office. Finance minister Avraham Hirchson has resigned, and there is a new minister in his place, which means that Gavish will have to start all over again with Ronnie Bar-On; and even before Hirchson resigned, Eitan Cabel, the minister who had been given responsibility for the Broadcasting Authority, quit because he would not serve in a government led by Olmert. Cabel was replaced last week by Isaac Herzog, who although he didn't attend the meeting of the IBA management committee and plenum that voted for the reforms, will in Gavish's estimation endorse the proposals. What Gavish seems to have lost sight of is Herzog's short-term ministerial track record. Through no fault of his own, Herzog has spent less than a year in each of his ministerial positions. He was all gung-ho when he became construction and housing minister and toured the country to familiarize himself with the people in the industry, its needs and those of the populations it serves. That job lasted barely 11 months and Herzog was moved to the Ministry of Tourism. Here too, he threw his heart into what he was doing, but 10 months later he was into the Ministry of Social Welfare. For good measure, his title also included minister for Diaspora Affairs and the fight against anti-Semitism, and he now has the added responsibility of the IBA. But Herzog is a Labor Party minister and Labor's recently elected chairman Ehud Barak made it very clear that Labor would withdraw from the government if Olmert doesn't step down following the release of the final Winograd Committee report - which doesn't give Herzog much time to do anything about the IBA. Then again, Barak, who obviously enjoys being defense minister, may find a convenient excuse to remain in office. NEW FINANCE Minister Ronnie Bar-On, known for his sharp tongue, conceded at the changing-of-the-guard ceremony that he would have to watch himself in future and perhaps read from a prepared text. "The last time I read out a speech," he confessed, "was at my bar mitzva."