ruthie blum 88.
(photo credit: )
"Enough already with Bar Refaeli!" one friend of mine chided another for interrupting a discussion on whether war was in the works to comment on the supermodel's scandalous statements to the local and foreign press last week. "Who cares what some dumb bimbo has to say about anything other than lip gloss?"
Beautiful blondes - we three dark, envy-ridden women agreed bitterly - should be seen and not heard. Had we been a bit less catty and a tad more honest, we would have admitted to wishing they weren't seen so much either. Certainly not anywhere in our own vicinity. Particularly not when members of the opposite sex are present. Because, while certain girls are the very definition of the vision of loveliness, drooling men are not a pretty sight. Well, not when they're salivating over the competition, at any rate.
Snide remarks aside, it's obvious that the public and the press care very much about this particular girl's pontifications, as puerile and asinine as they may be. And the hoopla is not merely due to widespread awe at the fact that a blonde is actually able to string a set of full sentences together in any kind of intelligible sequence.
HERE a review of Refaeli's rant is in order. It went something like this: In Israel, the paparazzi are too pushy - not like the more refined ones in Los Angeles. But in any case, who needs Israel altogether? It could just as well have been established in Uganda. Furthermore, why should anyone, least of all an 18-year-old, die for his country, when he could be living it up in New York instead?
Not that she would know about dying for one's country, of course, as she dodged the draft by entering into a fictitious quickie marriage with a contemporary of her parents. But, hey, celebrities like herself "have other needs" - a fact she hopes the IDF has finally internalized, thanks to the fine example she has set. One she boasts has paid off big time. Freed her up to climb her way onto the covers of major magazines, and under the covers of mega-star Leonardo DiCaprio.
Oh, and while on the subject of her boyfriend, it'll be a cold day in Hell before she brings him - or any other of her famous friends - back to her home for a visit.
In other words, far be it from Bar to subject her Hollywood cohorts to being shot mercilessly by Israeli photographers, and tortured ruthlessly by fawning Israeli fans. It is thus that poor little Bar - who hastens to take credit for the spate of new namesakes in the country she has no use for - has decided she's relocating in LA, if not for good, then at least for the next few years.
BUT WHAT about the people she's leaving behind? Why are we paying any attention at all to her ramblings, let alone devoting endless energy to responding in print and over the airways to her, when what she warrants at best is an item or two in a gossip column?
None of what she has said or done is novel. Evading military service has become as commonplace among our budding stars as their justifying it by biting the hand that feeds them. So what is it about this young woman, whose only claims to fame are her face and figure, that has struck the national nerve like a lightning bolt?
The answer is that she's a home-grown commodity, and as such we expect a little grace and gratitude from her, not a slap in our own less-than-perfect faces.
That's the thing about us Israelis: We're always thrilled when our small Mediterranean pond produces fish so big that they are able not only to swim in the world's waters, but thrive among the whales. Indeed, we delight in every victory at the Eurovision Song Contest. Cheers can be heard in the streets when one of our teams wins a championship abroad, or one of our athletes wins an Olympic medal. And we revel if a film of ours is recognized at Cannes. Nobel Prizes, as far as we are concerned, are a dime a dozen. And we're so used to making breakthroughs in science and technology that we barely bat an eyelash when yet another one comes along. In fact, most of us would be hard pressed at this point to list even half of the internationally acclaimed inventions and innovations we can call our own.
But pop culture is a different story altogether. This is because, whereas we intuitively attribute anything high-brow, hi-tech or high-end to Jewish genes (there we go again, being nerdy outcasts) when we rank elsewhere it means we've arrived as a country. A country that has to be reckoned with on the Broadway stage as much as it does on the political-military one - and it's not Uganda, that's for sure (though someone ought to let Refaeli in on a little secret: that if we had set up our state in Uganda, we would have been forced to fight for our lives there as well).
The sad truth is that however abundant and spectacular our achievements, we still feel like the collective wimp in the schoolyard, getting beaten up for getting good grades. And worse - for currying favor with the teacher. However well we manage to keep at bay all the big bad bullies extorting our lunch money and taunting us for sucking up to them before handing it over, we still lie awake at night fantasizing about gaining their respect.
The sadder truth is that it is precisely the models and movie stars - not the medical marvels or Middle East mavins - who enable us to imagine that those pipe dreams might just materialize one of these days.
WHICH BRINGS us back to our outrage at Bar Refaeli. Yes, we love it when our puny pond produces a mermaid we can display on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But we didn't bank on her blossoming into a back-stabbing barracuda.
As usual, the bullies are laughing all the way to the basketball court - with our lunch money jingling in their pockets.
That's betrayal for you.