Beauty and the Bureaucrats

Barred Refaeli: Muppet Ad Deemed Too Racy for Prime Time TV

Mixed reactions in world media to Israeli TV watchdog's move: Some see it as prudish, others express solidarity.

A TV ad featuring supermodel Bar Rafaeli and a muppet has been banned from daytime broadcast in Israel.

The state Second Authority for Television and Radio has banned daytime and prime time airing of a suggestive TV ad starring Refaeli and rock 'n' roll muppet Red Orbach, insisting the commercial has "too many sexual insinuations," reports the Walla! news site.

The story has been picked up internationally, leading naturally to the question: Is this good for Israel's image?

Britain's most popular website, Mail Online, seemed to take the mickey out of Israel for acting like an old prude, headlining its story, "Bar Refaeli's new steamy commercial gets banned in her native Israel for suggesting she had sex with a puppet."

The ad for Hoodies Underwear starts out with a visibly impressed, presumably post-coitus Refaeli lying under the bedsheet next to the muppet, who says, "It can't get any better than this. Or can it?" Then two more Refaelis appear in bed with him, and the three barely-dressed Bars take him on a fantasy tour: sudsing down his car, feeding him grapes in a jacuzzi, and playing strip poker with him until he wakes up from the dream, only to see Refaeli appear in the bedroom closet. "You just can't get enough of me," says Red, as Bar winks at the camera.

No more will this ad be shown on Israeli TV before 10 P.M., the Second Authority ruled at the beginning of the week.

Good for the Jewish state, or bad? Good, says the fashion magazine Elle: "To be perfectly honest, the commercial has all of the grace and sexual empowerment of a GoDaddy ad. (Yes, that's sarcasm.) So we have to side with the Israeli government on this one. After all, the council didn't even fully ban the ad, and the prime time airwaves could certainly do without it (as could all of us, really)."

No reaction was forthcoming from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry by press time.