IDF Complains Over Bar Refaeli's Involvement in Israeli Hasbara Campaign

IDF spokesman sends an official letter to the Foreign Ministry arguing that by using Refaeli, who didn't complete her military service, the Foreign Ministry was sending the wrong message.

The Israeli Defense Forces criticized a public relations campaign launched by the Foreign Ministry to boost Israel's image around the world because it starred Israeli model Bar Refaeli, Channel 2 news reported Sunday.

The report stated that the IDF spokesman sent an official letter to the Foreign Ministry arguing that by using Refaeli, who didn't complete her military service, the Foreign Ministry was sending a "message of forgiveness and turns a blind eye towards people that chose to enlist."

"In recent years, the IDF has been trying a verity of methods to improve the value of military service and to fight draft evasion, in order to preserve the moral dimension whereby the IDF is the people's army," Channel two quoted the letter.

The letter went on to argue that although public relations campaigns abroad are not the IDF's responsibility the foreign ministry should had wave taken into account: "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."

Several years ago, the IDF conducted an aggressive campaign against celebrities who did not serve in the IDF. As a result, mayors who wanted singers and artists to participate in events in their cities would check to see what their military service record was, as well as how – and if – they were released from the army.

In 2010, during a lecture to students at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the IDF personnel directorate head Major General Avi Zamir called for a boycott of products that were advertised by celebrities who had not served in the army. "Bar Refaeli shouldn't appear in ads," he was quoted as saying at the time. "And if she does, then don’t buy the products. That's the answer."

"The IDF sees conscription as a top priority, and works in a variety of ways in order to emphasize the value of military service," the IDF responded adding that it would not "respond to content from an internal conversation."

Tomer Appelbaum