Sunday 15 March 1998

Blonde ready for fun in Knesset

March 15, 1998

Matthew Kalman

THE face of Israeli politics may never look the same again. After 50 years of leadership by battle-scarred generals and stony-faced ex- underground fighters, the latest person to declare the formation of a new political party is Pnina Rosenblum, a platinum blonde ex- model, who will probably have to be taken a lot more seriously than her credentials suggest.

She was Israel's most famous fashion model, painted by Salvador Dali and popularly known as the "breasts of the nation". Despite a miserable birthright she is one of the most determined and successful women the country has ever seen. Now 43, with two children, Rosenblum is proprietor and chief executive of a huge …

Peace, love and knitwear

March 15, 1998

Matthew Kalman

AFTER nuns kissing, horses copulating and Aids victims dying, you might think there was no subject under the sun left to faze the average Benetton shopper. Well then, think again. Oliviero Toscani, the image-making mastermind behind the Italian clothing giant, has turned his attention to one of the most intractable problems of the 20th century: the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In Israel - a country well used to passionate debate and violent confrontation - Toscani revealed his latest work to an enthusiastic audience last week, and casually compared himself to Picasso and the Renaissance painters. But Picasso never had Toscani's gift for publicity. Within a week, his new oeuvre will be …

Monday 9 March 1998

Bennetton pays lip service to conflict

March 9, 1998

Matthew Kalman

AFTER snogging nuns, copulating horses and dying Aids victims, the latest Benetton catalogue is expected to arouse its usual level of controversy.

Titled "Enemies", its cover features 24-year-old Israeli student Enyar Lazarus passionately kissing her Bedouin boyfriend, Musa Mazareb, 22. Inside are pictures of Arabs and Jews playing, loving and working together. It will be distributed by Newsweek and a network of publications around the globe in six million copies and 14 different languages.

"If journalists would be artists, and if politicians would be artists, probably the world would be different," said Benetton creative director Olivero Toscani, launching the catalogue …

Sunday 1 March 1998

Israeli outsider in the hunt for top job

March 1, 1998

By Matthew Kalman

SHAUL Amor, a 57-year-old former social worker, will make history in Israel on Wednesday when he becomes the first person to challenge a serving president seeking a second term. The presidency, bestowed by a secret ballot of the 120 members of the Israeli Knesset, is largely a ceremonial position, but there is considerable excitement because the outcome is too close to call.

Amor has a good chance of beating the unpredictable, somewhat eccentric and massively popular president Ezer Weizman to become the first Israeli leader drawn from what he calls "the second Israel", of oriental Jews from North Africa and the Arab countries.

Two months ago, Weizman expected automatic …