Jewish supermodel Bar Refaeli found herself in the middle of a controversy because of a tweet some have said is supportive of the Palestinians. “I pray for the safety of citizens on both sides and for the day we will live in peace and harmony. Amen,” Refaeli wrote on her Twitter page during the Israeli operation in Gaza.
Upset at Refaeli’s apparent equivalency between peaceful citizens of the Jewish state and Palestinian supporters of terrorist tactics, supporters of Israel condemned her on Facebook.
Israeli celebrities rushed to attack or defend Refaeli. Rapper Yoav Eliasi, commonly known as “The Shadow,” wrote on Facebook: “With all due respect to your beautiful figure, which you proudly present and represent on the cover of every magazine around the world, perhaps you could also represent your people (Israel is not the US, in case you’ve forgotten). Stop trying to appear sensitive and humane; you just come out looking like a phony and a hypocrite.”
Refaeli, 27, posted a follow-up tweet, writing, “Good morning. I’m still trying to focus on what is important, supporting the residents of the south and our brave soldiers! And, God forbid, still praying for the wellbeing of innocent civilians.” But the angry followers did not let go, opening a Facebook group calling for a boycott on Refaeli’s Hanukkah show, Cinderella.
As if the Twitter incident wasn’t bad enough, Refaeli was subsequently photographed wearing a Santa outfit, outraging many who do not think a Jewish girl should be dressed as St. Nick. Refaeli posted the photo – in which she appears slightly hung over or tired – on Instagram last week with the caption “Good Morning Santa.” Twitter followers berated Refaeli, even telling her that she is “betraying Israel.”
This is not the first time Refaeli’s Jewishness has been called into question. She dated Leonardo DiCaprio after meeting him at a Las Vegas party in 2005. Her relationship with DiCaprio caused one nationalist Israeli organization to send her a letter, later leaked to the press, in which she was asked, for the sake of “future generations of Jews,” not to marry a “non-Jew,” a request similar to the one made to Israeli 1998 Miss World winner Linor Abargil a few years previously.
Refaeli began her modeling career before the age of eight months for a baby commercial. By age 15, she was featured in campaigns for the fashion brands Castro and Pilpel. Refaeli won the title “Model of the Year” in an Israeli beauty contest in 2000.
She volunteers for Project Sunshine, a non-profit organization providing free services and programs for children facing life-threatening illnesses. She has also volunteered for the organization Ahava, which has been caring for pets abandoned in Northern Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.
Among the magazines Refaeli has appeared in are ELLE (France) and GQ (Italy). She debuted in Sports Illustrated in 2007, becoming the first Israeli model to appear in the magazine, posing with rock band Aerosmith.