Bar Refaeli’s cameo in a pro-Israel ad campaign has the Israeli Defense Forces in a tizzy. The new commercial, launched by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, promotes the country’s advanced technology and features an appearance by the Israeli model at the end.
IDF spokesman Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai drafted a letter to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday criticizing the decision to cast Refaeli in the ad because she never served in the Israeli army, a duty required by all Israeli women over the age of 18.
“I wanted to direct your attention to the negative message this sends to Israeli society by the use of Bar Refaeli, who did not serve in the IDF, as an official representative of Israel in a campaign abroad,” Mordechai wrote, according to The Jerusalem Post.
“In recent years, the IDF has been trying a variety of methods to improve the value of military service and to combat draft evasion in order to preserve the moral dimension whereby the IDF is the people’s army.”
This isn’t the first time Refaeli has been targeted by the IDF. She became the subject of criticism in 2007, when she briefly married a family friend to dodge military service (Israeli law exempts married women from serving in the army). Major General Avi Zamir was so peeved that he reportedly called a boycott of Refaeli-endorsed products. Refaeli came under fire again in 2010, when the AFP reported that she requested to be listed as a foreign resident of the country to avoid paying taxes.
The Foreign Ministry defended Refaeli in a statement in response to the IDF. “Refaeli is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world and is widely recognized as an Israeli,” the letter read. “There is no reason to bring up the past when it comes to a campaign of public diplomacy of this kind.”
Refaeli got involved in the squabble herself with a pair of near-identical tweets written in Hebrew. One reads, “Use the Foreign Ministry clip or not. My Instagram has more readers than the newspaper of the country. I will continue to focus,” and the other includes a photo of a political banner urging President Barack Obama to free Israel spy Jonathan Pollard.