LOS ANGELES — Judy Nir Moses Shalom is one of Israel’s most recognizable TV and radio personalities, the outspoken host of weekly magazine TV show “Judy” and, premiering this November, a new TV yakker airing on Fridays on Channel 2.
She’s also a member of the Moses family, one of Israel’s wealthiest and most influential clans, whose Yedioth Group media empire owns Israel’s largest daily newspaper — Yedioth Aharonoth — and is a book and magazine publisher.
On a recent trip to Los Angeles, Nir Moses Shalom looked every inch the celeb with her spiky red hair, Star of David tattoo on her right bicep and jeans.
However, that appearance must turn heads in her other life, as the wife of Silvan Shalom, Israel’s deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.
The mother of five makes no apologies for her style and individualism.
“The press (in Israel) want to put me in a box and (insist) that I have to behave like they want, and I’m not (going to do so). I don’t give a damn about criticism. I want to look in the mirror and be happy in what I do.”
Her work occasionally puts her in conflict with official positions that her husband must take on behalf of the Israeli government.
For instance, she once went to a prison to interview members of terrorist org Hamas, whose goal is the eradication of the state of Israel, an assignment she kept from her husband until after the interviews were completed.
On her TV and radio shows, Nir Moses Shalom insists, “If I have an opinion, I say it. I’m careful and I would probably be more open if I were not married, but I speak out.”
She’s an unlikely combo of showbiz and politics. Among her friends are California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Hollywood producers (and Israeli ex-pats) Arnon Milchan, Haim Saban, Avi Arad and David Matalon. Her penthouse suites at the Beverly Hills Hotel is standard fare for a notable celeb. But the unique touches include the armed security guards outside the suites, the U.S. State Dept. diplomatic security agents stationed in the lobby, and the phalanx of county sheriff deputies and numerous black sports utility vehicles in the hotel driveway.
Before L.A., she had been in New York, attending the U.N. General Assembly with her husband. Nir Moses Shalom hopes to take her peace agenda to the United Nations. At a Gotham cocktail party hosted by Nane Annan, wife of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, she met wives of foreign ministers of several Arab countries.
“I was talking with all these women, and I believe we all can make peace. I think all the mothers want the same thing for their children. It doesn’t matter if you’re Palestinian, Israeli or whatever. I told all these women we may have to make a women’s convention, and I want to talk to Laura Bush about it. Maybe we can push the peace faster than them men do.”
In addition to trying to broker better relations between Israel and the Arab world, Nir Moses Shalom would also like to introduce Hollywood to Israel.
“I want to call all American producers to come and make films in Israel,” she said. “Within four hours, we have the desert, the snow, the beach, the green of the Galilee. We have everything. It’s much cheaper to make movies in Israel than here.”
Another item on Nir Moses Shalom’ wish list? Meeting Oprah.
“My new show will be a 90-minute interview program in a studio,” she says. “I wish I could interview Oprah. She has become the most powerful woman in America. After Condoleeza Rice, of course.”