Because these dispatches so often contain very depressing items, I occasionally send lighter, more “human interest” stories, such as those below.
1. Hunt for Israeli Bond girl is on
2. Madonna meets Shimon
3. Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore and other stars also in Israel this week
4. Much international media coverage
5. Bono says he is Jewish
6. Israeli is named as coach of one of world’s top soccer teams
7. FTSE promotes Israel to Developed Market
[Note by Tom Gross]
HUNT FOR ISRAELI BOND GIRL IS ON
The producers of the next James Bond movie, the 22nd in the series, have announced that they are coming to Israel to search for a dark-skinned beauty to star as the next Bond girl.
The chosen girl will star alongside Daniel Craig, the current 007, who previously played a Mossad agent in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich”.
The character of the new girl in the script will not be Israeli but Spanish, but according to the producers a dark-skinned Israeli girl would best fit the role, especially as many Israeli actresses speak fluent English.
The film, the name of which has not been decided, will primarily be shot on location in Italy, and will be directed by Mark Forrester.
Since Ursula Andress emerged from the water in a white bikini and a hunting knife in the first Bond movie, “Dr. No,” in 1964, the Bond girls have commanded much attention.
MADONNA MEETS SHIMON
Pop icon Madonna, in Israel for the Jewish New Year period, has met Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Peres gave her a copy of the Old Testament (perhaps because he read about Madonna’s recent purchase).
While in Israel, Madonna attended a conference on Jewish mysticism. Last weekend she was filmed singing Jewish songs and dancing with a crowd of hundreds of Kabbalah devotees at a Tel Aviv hotel.
Although she has not converted to Judaism, the singer has taken the Hebrew name Esther, and has been seen wearing a red thread on her wrist in what according to some is a Jewish tradition to ward off the evil eye.
ASHTON KUTCHER, DEMI MOORE AND OTHER STARS ALSO IN ISRAEL
Madonna, 49, was joined on her trip to Israel by her film director husband Guy Ritchie, 39, and their children Lourdes, 10, Rocco, 7, and 22-month-old David – the young child Madonna controversially adopted from Malawi last year.
The Material Girl reportedly planned to “cleanse” the souls of her children during the pilgrimage to celebrate the Jewish New Year.
The Queen of Pop paid her first visit to Israel three years ago, and has since declared herself to be an “ambassador for Judaism”.
Also in Israel for the Jewish New Year were other non-Jewish celebrities including the husband-and-wife actor team of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, and American talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell.
MUCH INTERNATIONAL MEDIA COVERAGE
Here is a picture of the Peres-Madonna meeting from “Gulf News” in what the paper calls “Occupied Jerusalem”.
And more pictures here, including Guy Ritchie taking a swim in Tel Aviv.
The Hamas-affiliated “Committees for Popular Resistance” last week made death threats against Madonna and Britney Spears, apparently for their involvement with the study of Kabbalah.
BONO SAYS HE IS JEWISH
Leading pop star Bono, from U2, has discovered his Judaism after he approached an ultra-orthodox Chabad Jewish man on a street corner in New York this week.
Bono, from Ireland, told him that he was “half Jewish on account of his Jewish mother.”
He was then told that in that case he was completely Jewish. Bono left, after laying tefillin and taking a Chabad skullcap with him and the young Chabad man was told, by the hundreds of people who had gathered, who Bono was.
ISRAELI NAMED AS COACH OF ONE OF WORLD’S TOP SOCCER TEAMS
Former Israeli national team coach Avram Grant was yesterday appointed as the new manager of Chelsea, one of the world’s leading soccer (football) clubs.
It is the most prestigious ever position an Israeli has been appointed to in the world’s most popular sport.
Chelsea, the world’s richest soccer club, currently sits in a mediocre fifth place in the English Premier League and could only manage a draw in its opening European Champions League match earlier this week.
The club is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, and had been managed by the charismatic Portuguese coach José Mourinho, who fell out with Abramovich.
Mourinho was much loved by the Chelsea players and Grant’s job is likely to be extremely difficult. One former Chelsea player said that Grant would be “as welcome at Chelsea as Camilla would be at Diana’s memorial.”
David Mellor, a Chelsea fan and former British (Conservative party) government minister, who later acted as a Palestinian spokesman, called the appointment “laughable, risible, completely and utterly stupid.”
FTSE PROMOTES ISRAEL TO DEVELOPED MARKET
The FTSE Group, the global index provider, announced yesterday that Israel would be promoted to “Developed” status from June 2008.
“Israel meets all quality of markets criteria for a Developed market and has done so since being included on the Watch List in 2006,” it said.
FTSE, a joint venture of the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange, classifies countries into developed and emerging market categories.
These categories are used by institutional investors worldwide. Helped by an expert committee of market practitioners, FTSE reviews quality of market criteria for all stock markets to assess the ease, cost and security of underlying investment transactions by international investors.
Israel will become the first country in the Middle East to join the prestigious Developed Markets club.
-- Tom Gross