A recent decision by the Foreign Ministry to use supermodel Bar Refaeli as the spokesperson in its new public diplomacy campaign has met with criticism by local advocacy groups, which claim that using her would do a disservice to the State of Israel.
In February, Israel Hayom reported that Refaeli would headline a new public diplomacy campaign highlighting how Israeli technological breakthroughs and inventions contribute to the daily lives of millions of people worldwide.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel and the Judicial Zionism students' forum have appealed to Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi Barak to cancel the campaign, saying that Refaeli — who did not serve in the Israel Defense Forces — is not the right person to represent the country.
Refaeli infamously attempted to postpone her mandatory IDF service saying it would interfere with her international modeling career. She was granted one service deferral, in 2002, but her request for a second one was denied. In 2003, when the military ordered her to report for duty, she married a family acquaintance in order to get an exemption from service. The couple divorced within weeks — as soon as her exemption was secured.
Nachi Eyal, director-general of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, said that "Bar Refaeli is not the right person to represent the State of Israel. The Foreign Ministry should know better than to choose celebrities who represent draft dodging."
The Judicial Zionism students' forum asked the ministry to cancel the campaign altogether.
A Foreign Ministry statement said that Refaeli "is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world and she is widely recognized as Israeli. There is no reason to dredge up the past when we are dealing with a public diplomacy campaign of this kind."