Bar Refaeli Tops Israeli List of Targets of Sexist Cyberbullying in 2016

Over the course of 2016, 14,000 comments on Refaeli's own Facebook page included obscenities, harassment and calls for violence.

Bar Refaeli arrives for the opening ceremony and the screening of 'La Tete Haute' at the Cannes film festival, on May 13, 2015.
Joel Ryan/Invision/AP

Bar Refaeli has the distinction of being the Israeli woman who received the most verbal and misogynist attacks on social media in 2016. This was reported by the Berl Katznelson Foundation’s Hate Report, prepared in cooperation with Vigo Social Intelligence, an internet monitoring firm.

Last year Refaeli was mentioned 19,000 times in misogynist contexts. Of 63,000 references to the model, actress and entertainer, 41 percent (26,000) included obscenities, harassment and calls for violence. Of these, 14,000 were posted on Refaeli’s own Facebook page.

Tamar Zandberg, a legislator for the left-leaning Meretz party, and singer Eden Ben Zaken, tied for second place in the sexist cyberbullying sweepstakes, with 6,000 anti-female mentions on social media each. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) and journalist Ilana Dayan were each mentioned negatively 5,000 times, followed by Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev (Likud) with 4,000. Despite being just 15 years old, singers Adi Bity and Noa Kirel also made the list. In the latter’s case, out of 9,000 Facebook postings about her, 2,300 (26 percent) included obscenities and calls for violence.

Regev, who is considered one of the most active politicians on social media, was mentioned 150,000 times on social networks in 2016. Thirty one thousand of these mentions (21 percent) included violent comments. The most common comment was “beast” (3,000 times) and “whore” (400 times).

The survey, conducted ahead of International Women’s Day, examined 190,000 abusive posts. “I think we must call a spade a spade and admit that there is specific violence directed at women online. Calls for rape are posted on a daily basis,” said MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union), who was scheduled to lead a Knesset discussion Wednesday in the wake of the report. “These are harsh words — these calls for violence specifically target women. Just as we wage campaigns against sexual objectification and sexism in advertising and against sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s time we fought against online misogyny,” she said.

According to Anat Rosilio, project manager and director of the public arena at the Berl Katznelson Foundation, “when looking at the results of this survey one notes that in contrast to other sectors that are afflicted by hatred on a daily basis, such as leftists, ultra-Orthodox Jews or members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, in the case of women the right and left sides attract the same amount of flak. Tamar Zandberg, who is both a young woman and from the left wing, gets a bit more than the others.”

Rosilio continues: “The fact that young singers get so much misogynist attention is particularly worrisome, since young people going on these official websites get this misogynist message head on. They easily distinguish the difference between the Facebook pages of male and female stars, where in case of females anyone can say ‘what he’d do to her.’”