The Israeli Foreign Ministry picked supermodel Bar Refaeli as the face of its new ad campaign, and the Israeli Defence Force is not happy about it.
Why? The Sports Illustrated bikini model dodged Israel's mandatory, two-year military service.
IDF spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai explained in a letter to the Foreign Ministry Director that:
"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.”
Refaeli has spoken out about skipping out on service. According to Jewish news site Ynet, Refaeli briefly married a friend to evade the draft:
“I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time,” she told a reporter. “That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.
This isn't the first time Refaeli has come under fire for dodging the draft. A boycott was organized in 2008 after the model was picked to be the face of Israel-based fashion chain Fox. The situation was smoothed over after she agreed to visit injured soldiers for the brand and encourage people to enlist in the army.
In 2010, the IDF also called on citizens to boycott items that were endorsed by celebrities who didn't serve in the military, Haaretz reports. Major General Avi Zamir told students at Herzliya simply that "Bar Refaeli shouldn't appear in ads. And if she does, then don’t buy the products. That's the answer."
But Refaeli isn't put off by the IDF's strong response to her pro-Israeli campaign.
She responded by posting a picture to her Instagram asking President Barack Obama to free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard with a message that translates in English to: " 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."
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