(NY Times) During the conflict with Lebanon last year, Israeli tourism industry didn’t disappear; it just went south, away from the fighting. Now, with a new set of life-or-death concerns emerging, the nation’s tourism industry again soldiers on.
This time, with bikini babes. Hold on - It’s actually perfectly logical:
* Problem: “Israel’s image among men aged 18-38 is lacking,” an Israeli official noticed, according to Israeli Insider.
* Solution: Form an alliance with the magazine that rules that demographic, Maxim.
Soon, a deal was sealed between the rulers of the Holy Land and the “girls, sex, sports” glossy. Maxim pledged to publish a piece about visiting Israel, and its photographers would shoot some of the local models for a spread in the July issue.
(Israeli Insider said two lobby groups — American-Israel Friendship League and Israel21c — played a crucial role by offering to pay for what must be their first bikini model photo shoot.)
Complaints flowed from Israel’s religious right as soon as the deal emerged, and the nation’s tourism minister wants no part of it.
But two female lawmakers in Israel’s parliament didn’t make a huge splash until today’s papers, the morning of a Maxim/Israeli consulate soiree in Manhattan. Neither was moved by the party’s patriotic theme, “Women of the Israeli Defence Forces.”
They were responding to the invitation, which features Miss Israel 2004 in sun-bathing gear (except for the 4-inch heels) as the sun has passed its prime for the day.
“This pornographic campaign sponsored by the Foreign and Tourism Ministries is an outrage,” said Colette Avital, who became the first woman to seek Israel’s presidency last week. “I wonder if the best way to encourage tourism is by advertising sex.”
Another lawmaker told an Israeli newspaper that she preferred the campaign to focus on “women of substance and accomplishments.”
One of the models disagrees. Tali Handel, who was an air force sergeant, believes that this particular bit of bikini modeling draws from the same spirit as the original Israeli settlers.
The Insider summed up her thoughts during an interview by saying she considered it “an act of Zionism.”
Interesting idea. Of course, there are many beautiful women in Israel. Hell, there are babes in nearly every country. I guess religious tourism isn't what it used to be!