Was Bar Refaeli Lost in Translation?

Iconic Israeli supermodel denies wanting a 'famous’ man in her life. After Leonardo DiCaprio, she wants to settle down with a hometown guy.

When it comes to the news, there are the stories that everyone should be talking about, and then there are those that everyone is actually talking about.

In Israel this weekend, the national guilty pleasure took the form of a long in-depth newspaper interview with Bar Refaeli, publicizing her debut as the host of the Israeli version of the reality show X-Factor. What grabbed the newspaper’s attention - and by extension, everyone else’s - was the revelation that the woman viewed by many as being the most attractive on the planet had been unsuccessful in her quest for true love and a life partner.

In huge screaming white letters on a shocking pink background, the newspaper printed the following quote from the 28-year-old supermodel and infamous ex-girlfriend of serial modelizer Leonardo DiCaprio sprawled across a full newspaper page:

I look fabulous
I’m cool
I love to go out
I love to stay home
I love movies
I love food
SO WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?
WHY AM I ALONE?’

It was the headline that made a million single Israeli women feel better about themselves. If Bar Refaeli, Sports Illustrated cover girl, she of the glowing tan and the bikini body, was having trouble finding love, then clearly the problem is with Israeli men.

Refaeli specified in the article that she was looking to settle down and have kids with someone local - she confesses in the article that her five years spent jet-setting around to film festivals, movie premieres and five-star getaways with DiCaprio wasn’t really a normal relationship.

Refaeli being an international sensation, the juicy details she provided in the expansive interview were international tabloid fodder: from the fact that she never says no to a blind date; to her statement that she is not a feminist and wants to be the one who washes the dishes and raises the kids; to recollections of the night she cried bitterly two weeks after her break-up with DiCaprio after seeing pictures of him with his new girlfriend; to confessing her celebrity crushes are Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling.

Matthew Kalman, a journalist who works as a stringer for the New York Daily News from Jerusalem, dutifully reported the story to the Big Apple newspaper.

Out of all of it, the quote that got the supermodel’s back up was: “I’m very interested in going out with someone who is big and strong and famous.”

Refaeli felt strongly enough to take to Twitter to deny the quote.

So what happened? Refaeli didn’t deny making that declaration in Hebrew - so presumably she was challenging the translation. The word in question is the Hebrew word “mootag” which is directly translated as the word “brand” - which, in English, doesn’t really fit in with a description of a human being. The only real alternative translation to ‘famous’ could be ‘celebrity’ or ‘icon,’ which one doubts would have satisfied Refaeli any better than the word ‘famous.’

Matthew Kalman, the journalist and translator in question agrees - but says if he had to do it over again, he would use a translation that his daughter came up with - she would like a boyfriend who was a ‘household name’ like herself.

In any case, he seems to be taking the supermodel’s ire in stride. Like any red-blooded male would be, he seems to be more than a little a little tickled at being the focus of her attention, even for the moment it takes to post a tweet.

“I’m not sure what her problem is,” he said in a phone interview. “I think Bar Refaeli is simply adorable.”

In Kalman’s journalistic opinion, the focus on her single status and quest for love isn’t the real story. He thinks the big news here is the post-Leo repatriation of Bar Refaeli, not only professionally in her X-Factor role, but personally: in her stated quest to specifically find an Israeli guy “who shares my values” to settle down with. That’s a switch for such a prominent public figure who has been castigated for her failure to serve in the Israeli army, and during the DiCaprio years, where her primary residence was Los Angeles.

“She told me five years ago when I interviewed her that she didn’t care who she married, [that] she could end up with a Japanese guy - and now she says she wants to settle down with an Israeli. She’s always been accused of jetting around the world and not being interested enough in Israel," he noted. "I’m surprised the other Israeli papers didn’t pick up on that change."

For Refaeli, it seemed important in the aftermath of the interview that she not be perceived as someone who sits home miserably pining for love. In addition to her “famous” denial, she also tweeted:

Tomer Appelbaum