Never These Twains Shall Meet, or at Least Not in 5766

The chance that we will see Reuven Adler and Ilan Shiloah sitting together in a restaurant or coffee house is about the same as Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu doing the same: zero.

Shiloah and Adler are the two strongest and most influential advertising men in Israel today. The two cannot stand each other.

Once, in a relatively rare occurence, the readers of the business pages were witnesses to a measure of the love and respect the two have for each other. Two and a half years ago the national lottery, Mifal Hapayis, decided to leave Shiloah's agency and switch most of its budget to Adler. At the time Adler claimed that Shiloah was on his way down, and customers were abandoning him since he was radiating pressure. In response, Shiloah accused Adler of being unprofessional, and, what's worse, of being unethical.

What Shiloah was referring to was the close connections between Adler and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. These connections seem to have helped in winning advertising accounts of government ministries or companies such as Bezeq or Mifal Hapayis. Of course, the other side has not forgotten that Shiloah and his firm's founders were close to Yitzhak Rabin, as they never cease to remind everyone.

As long as the two continue to run along in parallel, there are few sparks, but when the two meet, the advertising world is set on fire.

Cellular and the consumer

How can it be that two sides that never cease talking cannot sit down to talk. It's actually quite simple. The cellular firms prefer to communicate in a one sided manner - through the bank accounts of millions of customers - without bothering to discuss with them what really bothers the customer, the size of his bill.

To prove the point, not one of the three cellular operators bothered to come to the meeting with the representatives of the cellular boycott.

On March 1, a new regulation forced the companies to lower the price they charge for interconnection fees. The companies fought the rule, which was designed to push prices down, to the bitter end, using every weapon in their arsenal, especially our money. After they lost, they simply changed the rules on their own court by raising the price of air time and SMS messages.

In response, a consumer boycott was organized while the cell firms exercised their right to remain silent. In the end, the consumers will love the companies just as much as they love their banks, that is not at all. The time has come for them to climb down from their high antennas and speak to the customers, eye to eye.

Egos at war

MK Amir Peretz, chairman of the Histadrut labor federation, and MK Haim Katz will not run together in the next election at the head of a new workers party. As everybody knows there can only be one leader, and there is certainly no room at the top for the two of their egos.

Five years ago they seemed to be in the midst of a love story. They dreamed together of protecting not only the highly paid organized workers, but also such underprivileged ones as textile or manpower company employees. They even wanted to set up a political movement to look after the interests of retirees, without any involvement in political affairs.

So much for the dreams. The two have similar personalities. Both are warrior types with unlimited political ambitions and experience as labor leaders. But in the end the real losers are Israel's workers caught in the middle between the two egos. They have used their political powers to force each other to choose between the labor leadership or political posts they both hold, but the low level they have reached has hurt in particular not each other, but the institution of organized labor in Israel.