JERUSALEM – Israel's prime minister held an important meeting with the Palestinian president this week, but few things appear to interest Israelis more right now than Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Oscar-nominated star flew into Israel early Sunday with his girlfriend, supermodel Bar Raphaeli, igniting a paparazzi storm. The two have been romantically linked for about a year, and the Israeli papers regularly run breathless updates on their relationship, tinged with pride that a local girl snagged an A-list Hollywood heartthrob.
The two apparently hoped to slip into the country unnoticed on a night flight from Frankfurt, Germany. But as it happened, the plane was also carrying a group of Israeli entertainment reporters on their way back from a press junket in Ireland, and their cover was blown.
By the time the two headed for Raphaeli's family's home in an upscale Tel Aviv suburb, it was besieged by dozens of photographers desperate for a glimpse of the two. Guy Pines, host of the country's most popular entertainment TV show, rented a helicopter to survey the scene from the air, standard paparazzi procedure abroad but a first for Israel, he said.
But Raphaeli and DiCaprio remained holed up inside, and by Monday morning, all the cameramen had to show for their efforts was a blurry shot of the two being driven to Raphaeli's parents home, their faces obscured.
Pines told The Associated Press that the high-profile success both celebrities have enjoyed recently "turns them into a power couple that grabs a lot of media attention." DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar for his role in "The Departed," and Raphaeli was featured in Sports Illustrated's recent swimsuit issue alongside Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler.
But more than anything, Pines said, Israeli are happy for a diversion.
"The fact that most of the headlines here recently haven't been pleasant turns the interest in this beautiful fairytale couple into something the media can revel in," Pines said.