Most of us in North America know supermodel Bar Rafaeli as that gorgeous lady who’s posed for Victoria’s Secret and Sports Illustrated and Leonardo DiCaprio, but in Israel, they think of her differently. Several years ago, Rafaeli avoided perform the mandatory military service that all Israelis are required to do at age 18. Now, an ad regarding Israel that features Rafaeli has be criticized as a result.
In Israel, men are required to serve three years in the military, while women need to do two. Rafaeli, however, found a loophole that allowed her to avoid service by marrying a family friend, thus keeping her blossoming modeling career on its path. This has not been a well-received plan for Israelis who, in 2008, threatened to boycott the Fox fashion chain, insisting that Rafaeli complete her military service before doing the $300,000 contract. She appeased them by stating she would visit injured soldiers and encourage recruitment. However, these new ads have reignited frustration among her dissenters.
The pro-Israel ad features Rafaeli as a representative of Israel for a hasbara (public relations) campaign, but some figures find this unacceptable. Spokesman Big. Gen. Yoav Mordechai sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry Director on the subject, part of which said:
“The choice of a representative who did not serve in the military as an official presenter on behalf of Israel, conveys the message that we ignore and forgive evasion of enlistment, and encourages identification, among youths of both sexes, with the success of those who did not enlist … The IDF has been operating, in the last few years, in a variety of ways, to strengthen the value of IDF service, and to fight the phenomenon of enlistment evasion, in order to preserve the societal value that sees the IDF as the people’s army.”
Rafaeli did not step away from the controversy, posting on Instagram a photo of a banner with the caption, “You can use the clip for the Foreign Ministry or drop it, but my Instagram feed has more readers than Israel’s most popular newspaper [Yedioth Ahronoth]!”
When it comes to drafts, people get extremely heated and very offended when specific people are able to avoid them; after all, the risks involved from military service are huge. While this is certainly a very specific, hot-button issue with a ton of sides, it definitely has reopened the debate on whether or not a celebrity deserves some sort of special treatment from the government due to his or her success.