Things turned ugly at a Knesset Finance Committee meeting Monday, when MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) took Israeli clothing chain Fox and its CEO Harel Wizel to task for employing supermodel Bar Refaeli.
Wizel was one of several Israeli businessmen at the meeting, which was debating the government’s proposal to reduce the import tax on textiles.
During the debate, Stern, a retired IDF general, berated Wizel and said Fox had no right to make demands of the government because it had enlisted Refaeli, who served very little time in the military, to appear in its ads.
“Don’t you talk about reductions and the good of the people while you employ a draft dodger,” Stern said, noting that ever since Refaeli began to work for Fox, “I no longer go into your stores.”
Refaeli, who has starred in more than a few “hottest women in the world” lists over the past few years, angered many Israelis in 2003 when she married a family acquaintance and divorced him soon after apparently in order to gain early discharge from the IDF. At the time, Refaeli said army service would interfere with her modeling career.
Wizel fired back at Stern, calling him “insolent.” He said his daughter had served in the IDF and his son had recently completed basic training. At the behest of committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Jewish Home), Wizel later apologized for his outburst.
Stern retired from the IDF in 2008, after serving in a variety of positions, including head of the education corps, commander of the officers’ school, and head of the manpower division.
It wasn’t the first time Refaeli came under fire for her dubious military career.
Last month, after the Foreign Ministry released a pro-Israel advertisement starring Refaeli, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai wrote a letter urging the ministry to weigh “the negative message sent out to Israeli society” by using Refaeli in a public relations campaign.