Will 23-year old model Bar Refaeli take the same path as singer Maya Buskila and join the IDF?
The Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden, an organization working to enhance the motivation for equal contribution to Israel,
demands that the Fox fashion chain, which chose Bar Refaeli as its presenter, make joining the army or volunteering in the National Service (Sherut Leumi) a condition in maintaining their contract with her.
Last week, Fox announced that Refaeli would lead the company’s campaign during the next three years. According to the contract, she is expected to earn $300,000 a year.
Fox explained that it is an international chain with stores in 10 countries around the world and that Refaeli is a well-known figure in each one of them.
Choosing Refaeli, who gave up serving in the army and expressed her choice publicly, may lead to a consumer boycott on Fox. Seven months ago, in the Simhat Torah supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth, Refaeli said, “I do not regret evading army service, I have gained a lot.”
She also said, “The most ridiculous sentence I have ever heard is ‘it is good to die for our country.’” Her words caused an outrage, and when Fox announced its decision to choose her, the Israeli Forum for the Promotion of Equal Share in the Burden decided to act.
Colonel (res.) Reuven Agassi, who works in high-tech and is also a member of the forum, and actor Shlomo Vishinsky, who lost his son Lior four years ago in an explosion of an armored personnel carrier on the Philadelphi route, met on Monday with Fox CEO and part-owner Harel Weisel and with the company’s assistant director-general of marketing
The two asked Weisel to choose another presenter for the campaign or to formally make the contract conditional to some sort of national service. They emphasized the fact that choosing Refaeli will make focusing on careers and evading the army an acceptable example.
Vishinsky and Agassi also said that they prefer avoiding an official boycott on the chain – a step they will have to take if their request will not be answered. “We are not trying to make her life miserable,” said Agassi, “but celebrities are the country’s store-front window and when they express negativity towards enlisting in the army, it has its effect.
"I lecture at schools and students say, ‘Look at that singer or model who didn’t enlist and still succeeded.’ Our appeal to Fox says that we can’t provide economic benefits to people who have not served our country.”
Vishinsky emphasized the fact that this was not a witch hunt. “Our purpose is to achieve something positive from this appeal. We understand that not everyone can hold a gun, but a person can contribute to the country in other ways.”
The forum’s strategic adviser, Itay Ben Horin, added that “we told Weisel that they need to choose what side they are on, that of those who enlist or those who evade.”
Vishinsky and Agassi claimed that Weisel understood their plea. “He told us that we are breaking down an open door and now we are just waiting for the results,” said Ben Horin.
Weisel confirmed the meeting on Monday and it seemed as if he had already made up his mind. “On Tuesday we will make an official announcement on the subject,” he said.