Army Targets Israeli Supermodel Bar Refaeli

Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli under attack for avoiding military service.

JERUSALEM, Jan. 19, 2010 — -- The Israeli Defense Forces' latest target is Israeli supermodel and Sports Illustrated star Bar Refaeli.

The 24-year-old, erstwhile girlfriend of Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio is facing a barrage of criticism in Israel for her avoiding compulsory military service in the army and, now, apparently attempting to escape paying Israeli taxes.

Refaeli married in 2004 under allegedly false pretences that allowed her to evade two years in uniform. The man she married was 37 and a family friend, according to Israeli media reports. They divorced soon afterward.

She also reportedly filed this month for tax exemption in Israel because she spends most of her time living and working overseas.

She earned an estimated $2 million modeling in the past two years, according to the leading Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharanot. If she remains liable for Israeli tax for 2009, she would have to pay an income tax of 46 percent.

Meanwhile, Israeli Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, in charge of human resources at the IDF, this week urged a group of Tel Aviv students to boycott the products she advertises in retaliation.

"She went and married a 37-year-old guy, so what can I do?" Zamir said.

"At the end of the day, she is the one who has to look at herself in the mirror. We are a society that has an army and Bar Refaeli doesn't have to participate in ads for Fox [an Israeli clothing store]. And she advertises for Fox then you shouldn't buy her products."

His comments came as the country's top brass begin to worry about the number of young people who are apparently trying to avoid military service. Every 18-year-old is called up, boys for three years, girls for two. Time in the army has become one of the few defining bonds that keep Israelis together.

Refaeli's Mother Defends Her

But more Israelis are apparently trying to avoid service and growing numbers of religious youths are already exempt.

As for Refaeli, her mother hit back, telling an Israeli Web site, "The general is a disgrace. Before they attack Bar, they should check the government and see who in government did not join the army. ... Bar will continue to succeed and they will continue to talk."