It was Friday morning and as I clasped my ear in the direction of the radio I heard that the phone in programme on BBC due to start imminently was on Israel. What better way to while away the time before Shabbat, I sarcastically murmured to myself, then by listening to two hours of Israel bashing.
My initial concern was whether I should join the outnumbered pros and call in or whether I should just just bristle with indignation at the same old lies and calumnies which are the hallmark of phone in shows shows about the Middle East. As the clock struck noon and the programme ended I sat back almost in smug satisfaction.
Few callers condemned the actions of the Israeli Government. In fact most heaped praise on it and wished that our own would act in a similar rigorous fashion. There was no mention of Gaza, Hamas, or the plight of the Palestinians. No I was not hallucinating. I had not died and gone to some Zionist heaven. If this wasn’t quite a Zionist heaven it was certainly a Hamas Hell! No young virgins for a martyrs death here. Just impressive praise over the air waves for the resolution of the Israeli Government.
The phone in I had listened to was about a world crisis and Israel’s part in it. But this crisis was not about bombs and borders.It was about skinny fashion models, mainly women but also men, who trod the catwalks of London, Paris, and New York with figures no fuller than a well chewed pencil.
Horror stories have abounded in the International Press for some years about how models,and would be models, have become Anorexic ,or suffered Bulimia, by taking up life threatening diets to meet the stringent requirements of life at the top. There have been a number of fatalities in the industry and outside it as impressionable young girls and men struggled to reach an unnatural level of beauty.
In Parliaments throughout the West law makers have tried to introduce legislation to outlaw the “stick insect.” shape, but nothing has happened and the deaths and heart breaking stories continued to accumulate.
Step up the Israeli Parliament which this week made it illegal for girls with a body mass of under 18.5 to be used as models, and for good measure the air brushing of pictures of models has been outlawed along with it. This is the practice whereby using a computer generated program wrinkles, spots and blemishes can be removed giving the model the perfect face and features. Models now wishing to gain employment in Israel must provide an up to date medical report showing there body mass is above the minimum and that their health is good.
One of the sponsors of the bill was Dr Rachel Adato who said that only 5% of women naturally have a body mass of 18.5% or below. A prominent Israeli model agent chimed in with the opinion that it was time models looked like women and not dead girls.
A small victory perhaps in the propaganda battle but the more that Israel is shown to care and be in the forefront of best practice in the every day concerns of people’s lives the greater the sympathy and understanding the country will eventually garner.