News N12

Interview with Rani Rahav for N12

“Whoever writes something nasty – I end their life”. Rani Rahav in an interview

Super-PR Rani Rahav comes to the studios less and less, but not because he has nothing to say | Meanwhile, he fights users on Twitter and doesn’t regret: “The general public truly relates to what I say.” | In an interview with the N12 magazine he claims that there is no need to provide care for anti-vaxxers that fall ill with Covid, recounts what changed in the business due to the Covid crisis, elaborates on the mistakes that brought down Netanyahu – and explains why his relationship with part of the Rabin family was cut

מָקוֹר

N12 – Posted 06/09/21 06:03 | Updated 08/09/21 10:30

 

Amir Alon – Translated by Ido Gazit

TEXT:

“Whoever writes something nasty – I end their life”. Rani Rahav in an interview

Super-PR Rani Rahav comes to the studios less and less, but not because he has nothing to say | Meanwhile, he fights users on Twitter and doesn’t regret: “The general public truly relates to what I say.” | In an interview with the N12 magazine he claims that there is no need to provide care for anti-vaxxers that fall ill with Covid, recounts what changed in the business due to the Covid crisis, elaborates on the mistakes that brought down Netanyahu – and explains why his relationship with part of the Rabin family was cut

Amir Alon – Translated by Ido Gazit

N12

Posted 06/09/21 06:03 | Updated 08/09/21 10:30

It was about a decade ago. It was the beginning of my career in the press as a deputy editor of a weekly that covered the food and beverage sector and was distributed by email to several hundred subscribers. As happens occasionally, late in the evening, a short article about a planned launch of a new yogurt, which was supposed to populate but a mere “box” in one of the inner pages, has been replaced by another. One of the employees of the “Rahav Media” PR office, from whom I received the short article, kept in touch with me throughout the day, and when I updated her on the item that was dropped, I expected a certain disappointment that would quickly dissipate  -given its dimensions and the modest platform on which it was to be published .Less than ten minutes have passed and on the other end of my personal phone line was Rani Rahav.

Even then, Rahav was kind of a PR tycoon, representing dozens of some of the largest media companies in the market. “Darling”, he started our first ever conversation. “You know how much I appreciate you and your work. This article is very, very important to me personally. Please, make every effort to find a place for it.” Feeling proud as a media junior who had the privilege of talking to one of the industry celebrities, I addressed the request to the newspaper editor, who agreed at the last minute to make the change. A person who would hear the amount of gratitude that Rahav and his office people showered on me following the move, might have thought that the article opened the evening news.

This anecdote, for those familiar with Rani Rahav and work with him daily – should not be of any surprise. The personal contact that Rahav develops with every journalist, senior as a junior and veteran as a rookie, has two sides. And so, personal greetings on every birthday could be replaced by a different style, like a “poison rocket” to be launched toward those not aligned with Rahav’s interests and the clients he represents, as promised before to The-Marker reporter Sharon Shporer, or an open letter on the “endless wickedness” of the reporter Shelly Yechimovich. This totality, for better or worse, characterizes all of Rahav’s conduct, and occasionally leads him to issue extremist statements, some would say belligerent.

 

Anti-vaxxers are at the center of Rahav’s focus these days, and he has a clear plan for how to deal with them. “There are still a million sassy Israelis who dare to not be vaccinated”. I would expel them from the public – closing them in a military camp at a three-star hotel level at their own expense or put them on ships and send them to sea in good conditions at their own expense. They deserve no forgiveness; they bring death for themselves and cause the collapse of all the holy medical staff. It drives me crazy and I’m furious. It is inconceivable that Israel will go into fourth lockdown because of people who do not care”.

 

Hila and Rani Rahav

Benjamin Netanyahu and Rani Rahav

 

Rahav emphasizes that in his opinion, medical treatment should not be given to Covid patients who have not been vaccinated. “I would not treat them because I do not think they are entitled to treatment. The medical system should not treat the person who spites it. Don’t want to get vaccinated? Stay home if you are sick, because you’re so smart and know better than all of us”. This policy, in his view, should be in effect even in the case of adolescents whose parents have prevented them from being vaccinated. “It’s like the know-all mother who does not vaccinate the child against measles and then when they’re sick and infect half of the kindergarten – she runs to the doctor. No, sit at home with your child and be responsible for their fate”.

 

What would you do if an employee of yours refused to get vaccinated?

 

“They will have to bring a negative test every day and may God help them. They will not receive unpaid vacation and sit at home to smoke blunts all day. I offer no rewards for those who behave horribly. When someone in my office catches the flu, after four days they get a cake we buy with our hard-earned money from a patisserie in Tel Aviv sent to their home. If I have someone in the company who did not get vaccinated and got sick – they will not get a cake from me”.

 

“Covid is here for another year or two”

Rahav, 57, Claims that the PR office he owns is the largest in Israel, with about 170 clients and about 40 employees. While most of the industry was hit hard during Covid, as many companies in the market were forced to cut their media activity budget, Rahav says his firm has actually grown by 30% in the past year and a half. He believes he overcame the crisis thanks to the fact that he began preparing for it as early as last year’s beginning. “On the first day we recognized the Covid crisis, which was going to be a worldwide disaster, and I prepared myself mentally, physically and financially for the Armageddon war”. Indeed, the hardships came shortly after: “At the beginning of the pandemic, one day we received a message from 70 companies that they were halting payments because they could not afford it”.

 

“It’s not easy, in one moment all these companies let you know that they are stopping their business with you, not because you’re not good or didn’t get the job done, but because they have no choice – they shut and defend themselves because they are out of work and a minute away from bankruptcy. At that very moment they all received a returning letter stating we will continue to service them free of charge, 24/7, as if they paid as usual”, Rahav boasts. For a month and a half we funded this with a lot of respect, because these companies have been working with us for 20 and 30 years. We have seen the continuation of servicing them as our mission for the Israeli economy. God helped and they all came back to us. They came out of it strong; the Israeli audience went back to buying from them and everything is going great. In the current Covid wave I have not received such requests. After the first crisis we learned to live with it – Covid is here for another year or two”.

 

Ehud Olmert and Rani Rahav

Ayelet Shaked and Rani Rahav

 

With or without a connection to Covid, Rahav’s office suffered a series of beatings last April. In one month, several large clients, including IKEA and Isracard (who moved to an internal spokesperson) decided to end the contract with him. However, the most significant conclusion of contract was that of El Al, which Rahav has been representing since his firm was founded (and this year celebrated its 30th anniversary). The airline’s decision was made following a new appointment on its executive board, after Hassidic-Orthodox businessman Eli Rosenberg acquired the company about a year ago. Rosenberg appointed Dr. David Brodet as chairman and Abigail Soreq as CEO – a trio of people which Rahav refrained from mentioning in his emotional farewell letter from the company, in which he thanked many of the executives with whom he worked for three decades.

 

This end of contract, more than the rest, seems to have left a great deal of precipitation on Rahav. “El Al is a fascinating story that I think will be taught in media schools”, he says. “Once the company went into a crazy tailspin toward bankruptcy, they told us they could not pay us. We informed them that we will continue to service them, and we made it free for almost a year. Three people in the office handled only El Al 24/7 during the hardest days, it means a lot. Then, a family from the United States acquired control of El Al and appointed Brodet as the company chairman”.

 

Rahav does not hide his disappointment with the conduct of Brodet, former CEO of the Treasury and chairman of Leumi Bank. “I was expecting the company chairman to invite the spokesperson to talk in private to hear what is going on there. I have been there for 30 years, and each former chairman had done it. Lord Brodet, as if considered very humble and elegant, was to my surprise a completely different person. He and his vice chairman, Amikam Ben-Zvi (who in the meantime took his place as chairman) know me very well. For some reason, and their reasons remain with them – Messrs. Brodet and Ben Zvi decided not to invite me for coffee. Nevertheless, we continued to provide service for the company, up until the new CEO arrived. He asked us to give them another month and a half without charge and was told yes. Then they decided not to come back to us, and we understood that they wanted to work with other people”.

 

And you saw it as ungratefulness?

 

“Not even for a second. We did it with great desire and love for the employees of EL AL and Tami Mozes-Borovich, the previous controlling shareholder, who worked so hard for the employees and the company. Thanks to her, El Al and thus the public have the best planes in the world”.

 

However, Rahav does not spare criticism of the conduct of the Israeli flagship company. “It hurt me a lot that every day a different VP was sent home, and some of them have been great”, he says. “I do not think people are soldiers of the controlling shareholder. It’s awfully funny that a new owner steps in, at an instance erases an entire management and says ‘I can do it better’. As of now I do not see this happening, but I am crossing my fingers that they will succeed. I believe in karma, and the fact is that Brodet did not maintain his position. In addition, the only board member who knew me did not come at her own will and say ‘I know Rani Rahav, I know how honest and clean-handed he is, invite him for coffee’ – so of course she is not there anymore either. I believe that anyone who does not act rightfully with people who do only good – the problem is theirs, not mine”. El Al and David Brodet chose not to comment on the aforesaid.

 

Among the most famous cases that the firm handled was “Board Games”, in which an investigation was conducted against Eyal Golan, whom Rahav represents. Despite all the evidence of sexual misconduct on the part of the famous singer towards his fangirls, some of which we published last May in “Ulpan Shishi”, Rahav has always been at the forefront of those who defend Golan.

 

Even today, eight years after the scandal broke, Rahav is still dealing with its consequences, as only three weeks ago he sent a letter of complaint to “Kan Gimmel” arguing that it excludes part of Golan’s repertoire from its broadcasts, even though he has reached the top Israeli Billboards on the rest of the radio stations (according to Akum and Media Forest – Golan is the most played artist of last year). “I find it unjust that they do not play his new songs and I’m not going to let go of this matter”, Rahav promises. “It is inconceivable that on Youtube a song reaches 8 million views and on Kan Gimmel, which is a national station, it will not be played even once. A music editor cannot take over the minds of more than 9 million Israelis”.

 

Kan Gimmel responded “We invite everyone to listen to our annual Billboard, reflecting the choices of the Israeli public. The mindset of the listeners and trends in music vary from year to year, and the values of Kan Gimmel Radio are to bring out the public taste as it is organically – without financial influences and without pressure from parties of interest. The editors of the station will not give in to attempts to skew the factual and professional selection process. Those who believe are not afraid (Eyal Golan song quote – translator note)”.

 

Rahav is considered strange in the view of the industry, mainly due to his sometimes-eccentric style and his tendency to put himself at the forefront, in a field where practitioners are usually used to pulling the strings from behind the scenes. For years he has been a sought-after interviewee who has devoted himself to the media in a kind of symbiosis that is beneficial to both parties. But recently he seems to have slowed down in this aspect, and the number of his appearances in the media has dropped significantly. Rahav explains that this is a combination between an independent decision to lower his media profile and the policy of the shows’ editors, which apparently reduced the level of interest in him. “There are times when I choose to be in the media all the time and there are times in which I choose not to”, says Rahav. “In the last year and a half I have devoted my whole life to the company, to expand and establish it, so I made a decision that I would say a lot of no’s and a few yes’s. There were also shows that did not invite me, because not every show decides it wants to hear Rani Rahav right now, who usually speaks very positively, patriotically and pro-Israel. Not every show likes it”.

 

However, Rahav still believes in his abilities to attract an audience. “When I was 27 I asked Dan Margalit, who was the TV guru, why he was inviting me to ‘New Evening’, so he replied ‘when you enter the studio we see how the ratings skyrocket’. I learned that I bring ratings not because of my beautiful eyes – I’m not Richard Gere, Marlon Brando or Dudi Balsar. They invite me because they want to hear what I have to say”.

 

It seems that recently Rahav found a replacement for appearances on TV in the form of extensive activity on social networks – Facebook, on which he has more than 100K followers, and Twitter – with approximately 32K. The character he presents on these platforms is kind of an extreme version of what the public knows from his media appearances – without censorship, inhibitions and filters. Among other things, he often gets into virtual fights with politicians, journalists and also ordinary followers.

 

“The general public deeply relates to what I say”, he claims. “There is not a single day that people on the street do not approach me and say ‘ We have read and we love your opinions. Well done, keep going’. People from all layers of society, such as professors, board members and simple people too. They say ‘we have no courage to write this and receive nasty retweets, as sometimes those who want to come out against you write. We do not have your elephant skin. We envy you that it does not interest you at all’. It’s a whole lot of fun to me”.

 

Bill Clinton with Hila and Rani Rahav

Hillary Clinton, Leah Rabin, Hila and Rani Rahav

 

And it really does not affect you?

 

“I have no problem with the criticism or with the disturbed people who write nasty things. Since I was 13, I only tell the truth, even if it is unpleasant. If someone writes something nasty, I immediately set a target on them and end their life in a nasty way, and then their family will tell them ‘Look what Rani Rahav wrote about you’. It’s not pleasant. I have always been a moderate person and a man of compassion, but if someone throws curses at me online I become a monstrous person. I think the power I have is to eradicate bad people, stand up against them and eliminate them. Wherever I see someone pulling out a knife, my knife is thicker, sharper and poisoned. You cannot have someone slap you and not give them a punch in the face. No one will go against Rani Rahav unjustly and stay dry, they will remember it all their life”.

 

Rahav, pardon the cliché, is the connecting link between capital and government in Israel. The huge parties he hosts at the villa in Savyon, where he lives, are hosted side by side with the upper echelons, senior politicians, journalists, academics, judges and celebrities from various fields. He is known for his ability to connect to everchanging centers of power and connect them to one another. He pronounces himself a close friend of all the prime ministers and their spouses from Yitzhak and Shulamit Shamir to Naftali and Gilat Bennett. But his closest friendships were with Yitzhak and Leah Rabin, a friendship he defines “divine”.

 

“The relationship with them was truly amazing, the best possible. It is impossible to describe this friendship”, Rahav recalls. “Leah spoke to me at least nine times a day and for the last three years of Yitzhak’s life we ​​would meet every Friday at 6PM. It was the Holy of Holies, Leah would bring us coffee and cake, go out, close the door and come back only at 8PM. We would watch the news together until 8:30PM and then I would drive back home”.

 

The devotion to Rabin – and the separation from Rabin’s children

These relations, Rahav recounts, “changed the history of the State of Israel”. “Rabin wanted to get a majority of 61 Jewish MKs for the Oslo Accords. I told him that in order to do that we should bring Gonen Segev. At first he laughed at me with a wave of his hand, and at the end I said ‘Yitzhak, we are right before the agreements. There is no Jewish majority, let me get him’, and he said okay. I went to see Segev and the rest is history. Signature was at our home in Ramat Gan; he (Segev) was appointed Minister of Energy and there was a majority for Oslo. I will never forgive him for the drugs he brought to our children and for spying for Iran. It’s really unforgivable what the man did, but I think that since the assassination of Rabin his life has completely collapsed”.

 

Yasser Arafat with Rani Rahav

 

But Segev’s life is not the only thing that has collapsed since then, but also Rahav’s relations with several members of the Rabin family, which were severed following their anger over the public support he gives to former Prime Minister Netanyahu – whom they accuse of incitement that led to the assassination. “Part of the Rabin family – Dalia, Yuval, Yonatan and Noa – decided not to talk to me because of my good friendships with Netanyahu. They chose their path, ‘Sophie’s Choice’ – it’s their right. I always wish them all the best in the world, but we keep the memory of Yitzhak and Leah better than anyone else in this country. Twitter and Facebook prove that people who misuse Rabin’s name, even if they are prominent – got a poisoned arrow from me like they never have before”.

 

However, he notes that with Tali, the divorcee of Yuval Rabin (son of Yitzhak) and with their two daughters, Reut and Omer, the relationship is close. “We have an excellent relationship with them. Reut and Omer are like Leah, and it is a great pride for all of us that when they enter our house, it is as if she entered”.

 

Gonen Segev (Photo: SindelFlash90)

“I will not forgive him”. Gonen Segev | Photo: SindelFlash90

Yitzhak and Michal Herzog with Hila and Rani Rahav

Yitzhak Rabin and Rani Rahav

 

What would Leah think of your relationship with Netanyahu?

 

“She would’ve been very respectful of it. She would tell me that a prime minister is a prime minister and that I should be in touch with him. Unlike all their other friends, she allowed me to be in excellent relations with Sonia and Shimon Peres, even at a time when there was no peace between the two couples. I am one hundred percent sure that Netanyahu did not imagine that such things as rabbis talking and pictures of Hitler would cause murder. I think he understood this very well on his own flesh in recent years when he saw that he himself was a victim of incitement as prime minister. The obsession with the Netanyahu couple, rightly or wrongly – is insane, for better or worse”.

 

Why do you think he lost power? 

“He was wrong in ‘creating’ Ben Gvir and Smotrich. This karma failed him, and they betrayed him. Bennett and Shaked owed Netanyahu nothing, but Ben Gvir, who is the greatest disaster for the Israeli democracy, and owes him his life – gave him the finger. Netanyahu also failed to bring his senior ministers and the media closer to him. Had he done that, I think he would still be prime minister of Israel”.

 

Rani Rahav with Ehud and Nava Barak

Shimon Peres with Hila and Rani Rahav

 

Rahav’s support for Netanyahu does not prevent him from equally praising his rival and soul-hated one who replaced him in office. He does not accept the allegations that Bennett lied to his voters. “I think any politician violates one promise or the other. In my opinion, there are no honest politicians and I’m not looking for honesty in politics. Menachem Savidor, Israel’s heroic chairman of the Knesset, who was the most honest in the world – returned very quickly to his home in Hankin Street in Tel Aviv. Yitzhak Berman, another chairman of the Knesset, straight as an arrow – who remembered him? Who came to his funeral? Maybe 10 people”.

 

Rahav’s office is kind of a family business. Whereas he is chairman of the board – Hila (57), his wife of 29 years, is the CEO, and his sister Sharon is her substitute.

 

What’s it like to be your wife’s boss?

 

“Her voice is very strong in the organization but at the end of the day the decision is mine. There is an agreement between us – in the office I am the boss, at home she is the boss”.