Celebrity Grapevine

Model Bar Refaeli became the target of the media when she accepted an invitation to attend a state dinner hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy

Bar Refaeli 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bar Refaeli 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Model Bar Refaeli may deserve an apology. Last week she became the target of the media again when she accepted an invitation to attend a state dinner hosted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni in honor of President Shimon Peres. On the day that Peres left Israel, Israel Radio's Yaron Dekel questioned whether Refaeli had actually been invited to the dinner. Dekel, who knows a thing or two about protocol, suggested that Peres must have been informed of the guest list so that he could veto anyone who might embarrass him. Refaeli might have fallen into that category because she is known for having shirked army duty, and making derogatory statements about the IDF and Israel. Later, word went out that Refaeli had indeed been invited by Bruni, whom she had known in the latter's modeling days. Then came the worst of all: publication in several Israeli media outlets that members of the Peres entourage were upset by Refaeli's presence and would have done everything possible to prevent her attendance had they known about it in advance. Anyone who hadn't served in the IDF, they were reported as saying, didn't deserve to sit at a state dinner in honor of the president. Dekel called Ambassador to France Daniel Shek, who explained that the embassy couldn't really intervene as far as the invitations were concerned, especially as Refaeli had been invited by Bruni. Shek suggested that everyone put the incident behind them and move forward. But a lot of water will have to cross under the bridge before the incident is forgotten. According to Bar's mother, Tzipi Levin, it's all a pack of lies. Number one, her daughter is only 22. Carla Bruni is 40, and hasn't modeled for some time. They never knew each other professionally. In fact, Bar had never heard of Carla Bruni before. Number two, when the letter bearing the invitation from the Elysee Palace arrived at Refaeli's home, Levin thought that it was strange, and contacted Yona Bar-Tal, deputy director-general of the President's Office. (Levin knew Bar-Tal from the time that Refaeli's boyfriend, Leonardo DiCaprio, visited and met with Peres. Bar-Tal had been in charge of the arrangements.) Bar-Tal asked to see the invitation, and later returned it saying that it was indeed genuine. Thus the president's people could not say that they had no prior knowledge that Refaeli had been invited. But it went further than that. Dekel again raised the point that Refaeli had not served in the army. "Not because she didn't want to," interjected her mother. "We have access to her army file," pronounced Dekel in a sonorous voice. The next voice on the air was that of military correspondent Carmella Menashe, who said that it was high time that someone put the story of Refaeli's army service in order. She indeed wanted to serve and was willing to serve, but happened to be hospitalized at the time. She was supposed to report for duty, but asked for a deferment. The army was unwilling, but Refaeli felt she needed more time to recuperate. She never ended up serving. Dekel again referred to the interview in Yediot Aharonot, which Levin insists had been distorted. She cited the fact that Bar had brought major French and British publications to Israel for photo shoots. She wouldn't have done this, she said, if she were negatively disposed toward Israel. Refaeli isn't in Israel currently, continued Dekel, and he wondered if she would ever return. Levin had difficulty keeping her cool. Refaeli was in New York because she'd been invited to participate in a forum. She had flown from New York to Paris then back to New York. But Israel is her home and she always comes back to Israel between modeling assignments and guest appearances. When a lie is perpetuated over and over again, it becomes everyone's truth. When Dekel asked Levin why her daughter seems to be so hated by the Israeli press, her reply was: "It's not her that they hate. They hate people who are successful. It's just her turn." ISRAEL PRIZE laureate Lia Koenig never fails to captivate her audiences, and did so again at the Ramat Gan Municipality's International Women's Day celebrations organized by the Women's Council in conjunction with the city's culture and events department. Appearing within the framework of "Always a Woman," the overall title of the festival, the seemingly ageless Koenig was invited to give a presentation at Shishi Nashi (A Female Friday) - and wowed them. HUMOR AT the expense of the disadvantaged is not funny. In fact it's sick. Lior Schlein, who can be quite funny on occasion, went overboard in his Channel 10 show in January when, in the context of a segment called "What's not logical in the photo?", he produced photographs of two young men with Down's syndrome and compared them to himself and Erez Tal. A flood of complaints flowed into the Second Television and Radio Authority which is responsible for Channel 10. The angriest letters came from families of, and people who work with, those born with Down's syndrome. Channel 10 had the good grace to apologize to anyone who may have in any been hurt by this item in the program, but pointed out that Schlein had made no actual reference to Down's syndrome. He had merely compared his and Tal's external appearances to those in the photos. That's hardly an excuse, especially in an instance in which a photograph does indeed say more than a thousand words.