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I’m too sexy for an IDF shirt
11/10/2007
By Jeff Barak, Jerusalem
One of Israel’s top models has become the country’s most controversial celebrity after slamming the Jewish state and boasting of having beaten the IDF draft.

Bar Rafaeli, actor Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend, says she pretended to be married to avoid national service.

In an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, she said: “I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.”

Speaking of her plans to move to Los Angeles, she said: “Israel or Uganda, what difference does it make? It makes no difference to me. Why is it good to die for our country?

“What, isn’t it better to live in New York? Why should 18-year-old kids have to die? It’s dumb that people have to die so that I can live in Israel.”

What seems to have particularly irked her about Israel is the way she and DiCaprio were treated by the Israeli paparazzi during their visit in March. Their security guards fought with photographers at the Western Wall.

“In Israel, the photographers nudge me in the shoulder and ask me to pose. Enough already, don’t touch me, I’m not your friend,” she said.

And in an interview in this month’s Tatler, Ms Rafaeli continued this theme.

“In Israel, everyone thinks they can touch you. The paparazzi there are very rude and they touch me. In Israel, everyone thinks they can do all sorts of stuff. They feel that they can talk to me, touch me, and say, ‘hold on a minute,’ and I’ll stop. I’m not comfortable in Israel. I just feel very uncomfortable.”

Her remarks followed the release of IDF figures which showed that 25 per cent of Israeli men avoid conscription.

“The last thing Israelis want to feel is that they are a freier [sucker],” said Sam Lehman-Wilzig, a professor of mass communications at Bar-Ilan University.

“But in the case of Bar Rafaeli, it’s much worse. She’s spitting into the well from which she drank. She’s holding up her refusal to serve as a badge of honour. What’s got people upset is that she says Israeli society, the society that brought her up, is not worth living in.”

The issue of celebrities and their army service is something the IDF is attempting to tackle. Athletes have traditionally been allowed to combine non-combat army service with their sporting careers.

Footballers Yossi Benayoun and Tal Ben Haim served in the IDF while playing in the Israeli football league.

Leading singers and musicians serve in IDF entertainment troupes, and the army recently announced its intention to enlist young light-entertainment stars into special units.

The IDF Spokesman told the JC that “celebrities are treated in the same fashion as all soldiers, and as such mandatory service applies also to them. Those who have the required physical ability to serve in combat units do so.

“The IDF recognises their talents and seeks to accommodate their needs as much as possible, so that they may continue their personal careers (during their mandatory service).

“The same consideration is also given by the IDF to outstanding sportsmen on the basis of the recommendation of a special committee of the ministry of education and culture and the recommendation of their commanding officers, so long as their duties are not neglected.

“Those who choose to falsify details in order to avoid mandatory service are lawbreakers and should be persecuted by the state’s law enforcements agencies and be condemned by the public as draft dodgers.

“We realise that not all soldiers can serve with the Golani Brigade, but there is no reason for those who can perform on stages not to do so in front of Golani troops on the Gaza border.

“Just as we have been letting exceptional athletes and gifted musicians serve under conditions suitable to the army, which do not harm their career, we should do the same with these young artists.”

The army also recently announced plans to establish a military dance troupe that would allow outstanding dancers to pursue their vocation within the IDF. According to the plan, dancers admitted to the group would go through basic training before holding dance workshops at IDF bases, performing before troops and representing the army at official events.

Others spared army service

Aviv Geffen: The failure of Israel’s bad boy of rock to serve became a talking point because he is a nephew of the late Moshe Dayan. His association with the peace movement led to a surprising friendship with Yitzhak Rabin, and he appeared at the Tel Aviv rally where the then prime minister was murdered

Ivry Lider: The gay icon and singer recently had a concert for soldiers cancelled due to his failure to serve. His manager said he was released by the army on medical grounds, but the army later insisted: “The IDF only allows artists who have served to perform in front of soldiers”

Ben Sahar: The Chelsea footballer was granted special status as a “gifted youth” and his conscription was postponed. The then Defence Minister Amir Peretz phoned his mother during a cabinet meeting to tell her the news

Yael Nezri: The former Miss Israel did her training but was given permission not to carry her assault rifle because it bruised her legs and affected photo-shoots


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