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Middle East

Meet the woman set to become Israel's 'ambassador' (yes, it is Bar Refaeli, and no, not everyone is especially happy about it...)

27 year-old did not complete the mandatory two years of military service 

It's fairly obvious to see why the Israeli foreign ministry want to use Bar Refaeli in a new PR campaign to promote the country overseas, but the decision has annoyed the country’s military types who have expressed anger at the decision.

The 27 year-old supermodel, and ex-girlfriend of Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio, was asked by the foreign ministry last month to do her bit and help promote a positive image of the Jewish state, especially the country’s booming technology sector. But they hadn’t reckoned with the Israeli Defence Forces.

In a leaked letter from the IDF’s Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, the Foreign Ministry was asked to consider “the negative message sent out to Israeli society from the inclusion of Bar Refaeli, who did not complete national service, as Israel’s representative in a public relations campaign.”

Most young Israelis do a minimum term of national service in the armed forces, but Ms Refaeli argued that it would interrupt her modelling career. “That’s just the way it is,” she said at the time. “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.”

“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,” Brig-Gen Moredechai’s letter went on.

To insult to injury, Ms Refaeli later appeared in a photo shoot for the Italian GQ magazine wearing military clothing. It is not known what the top military brass thought of the photographs.

In response to the IDF letter, the Foreign Ministry said that Ms Refaeli’s past association with the military was an irrelevance.

Of course, because of the IDF protest, the whole episode has attracted much more attention than any expensive campaign organised be an overpaid lobby group, meaning that Ms Refaeli may have got one over on the top military brass for a second time.