In the latest PR effort to make Israel more, uh, “attractive,” diaspora males have been given the next best tease to travel to Israel: Maxim mag babes.

Maxim to gloss Israel’s image
(JTA)

Israel’s image-makers are turning to the pages of the American men’s magazine Maxim. A magazine popular among Anglophone males for its “beer and babes” format, Maxim will send a team to Israel next week for a photo shoot with seven local fashion models.
The idea was hatched by the Foreign Ministry as part of efforts to offset Israel’s image as a hotbed of conflict. The issue with the photo spread is expected on newsstands in June, and will be followed with a review of tourism in Israel.

Will Hadassah magazine launch an “Men of the IDF” calendar, with shots of tanned Israeli hunks showing off their (ha!) guns? And I suppose I should wait for Kurdish advocates to start sharpening their global image with a few well-placed shots of Kurdish cleavage? Or some Tamil Tigers T & A? Especially with the latest sex news items regarding the Jewish state, a whole new discipline of global public relations appears to have been unleashed — never truer was the mantra “sex sells,” especially if you’re selling a “political body”.
But let’s put humor aside for a sec. Sex is serious. Short of the obvious arguments against this of objectifying a country and it’s women/people and sweeping under the rug a whole set of issues regarding sex in Israel for one issue or another, it’s thorny for a simple reason. It’s a shallow attempt at beautifying Israel in the minds of internationals (in this case, American men and women who dig pics of chicks, “great articles” alongside notwithstanding) and exacerbating a greater problem of understanding Israel as a fantasy land and not a country like any other.
Overall, this is disappointing because once again the powers that be are striving to use public relations to improve Israel’s image rather than address the issues which, by their fixing, could garner Israel serious kudos. Like the sex trafficking, the environment, the occupation (heaven forbid we spend money on dismantling the occupation or on bolstering public understanding of renewed negotiations) and civil rights/synagogue-state separation. To shortcut any objections, I’m going to say that loving the beautiful people and culture of Israel doesn’t need to be justified and is laudable for those who love it. But Foreign Ministry PR is a political tool, not an end unto itself. Change, far above a few naked chicks, is going to help Israel’s fan club a whole lot more in the world.