When it comes to female beauty, there's nothing quite so glamorous as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and the cover of that issue offers the ne plus ultra of pulchritude and fame.
The 2009 issue, just out, features Bar Refaeli, an Israeli, on the cover. And Refaeli, it turns out, represents post-Zionist Israel. From a Yedi'ot Aharonot story on her:
In an interview for a special holiday magazine in Yedi'oth Ahronoth, Refaeli declared that she was moving to the city of angels. "It's easier with the paparazzi in Los Angeles, because they give you more space and don't push you or touch you. I believe I will never only live in Israel, so Los Angeles will be home at least for the next few years," Refaeli said.
Bar Refaeli, post-Zionist Israeli, on the cover of the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue.
In her interview, the Israeli model said she was not against army service, even though she never enlisted, having married an acquaintance to evade the draft. The couple was soon divorced. "I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don't regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time," she said. "That's just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.
"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," Refaeli added.
Comment: Refaeli is hardly the only Israeli to be celebrated abroad that holds radical views. Another who comes to mind is the transsexual singer Dana International. (February 10, 2009)
Feb. 18, 2009 update: Aluf Benn, a Ha'aretz columnist, sees Refaeli in terms of the "Brand Israel" project, a foreign ministry undertaking to make the country more appealing to Westerners by stressing such featues as pretty girls in revealing bikinis. He notes that after Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister herself, Refaeli is the second most famous Israeli woman in the world, judged anyway by Google mentions (but I count 2,360,000 for Livni vs. 4,510,000 for Refaeli; Golda Meir lags with a mere 621,000). If she is indeed part of a marketing campaign, she is certainly a strange spokeswoman for her country.