Global Politics

Pamela Anderson takes fur message to Israel

Former �Baywatch� star Pamela Anderson is in Israel this week. She's participating in the local version of �Dancing with the Stars� but Anderson is also hoping to make an impact on Israeli politics that's got nothing to do with the Middle East peace process.

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At a news conference over the weekend, Anderson unveiled her pet project. She's trying to woo a group of Israelis generally adverse to her particular brand of charm: the fervently religious ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Here's the back story: Israeli lawmakers have been on the cusp of passing legislation that would ban animal fur for clothing. Opinion polls show that the majority of Israelis support the initiative and most people in this balmy Mediterranean climate don't wear fur coats anyways.

But the bill was temporarily tabled by Israel's minister of religious services, himself an ultra Orthodox Jew. He was worried that the legislation would unfairly punish many men in his community who do wear fur � on their heads.

The shtreimel is a round hat lined with fur that many ultra orthodox Jews don on holidays and other festivities. It's a way of dress that goes back to 18th century Europe.

Pamela Anderson wrote the Israeli minister a few weeks ago and asked him to support the anti-fur bill. Anderson has become an active champion of animal rights. She admitted that over the years her career's been frivolous and silly. But now, she said, this is serious.

Anderson: �To incorporate my beliefs and compassion in what I do, and to be able to see the results in the last 20 years has been really inspiring, and it keeps me going. I feel like I have actually done something�.

Anderson said she'll be taking up the issue with religious leaders this week. But Anderson's pleas might be falling on deaf ears. Menachem Friedman is a professor emeritus of Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. His expertise is on the ultra Orthodox Jews � called Haredim. He said he's doubtful that Anderson will be able to do something in Israel.

Friedman: �In my view, it will be very difficult if not impossible to pass a law. What can be done is to reach a compromise. That means an agreement that the haredi people will buy artificial streimlich, and not the original streimlich.�

In other words, he said, some Haredi leaders might agree to stop wearing real fur hats. And get their followers to do the same. But a former Baywatch star and Playboy model, convincing ultra Orthodox Jews to see things her way, Friedman said?

�Pamela Anderson � oy vey.�

But Friedman said she could help things a bit by putting on some more clothes.

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