Never mind Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni. Israelis are chattering about the candidacy of Orly Levy, a 35-year-old former fashion model running for Parliament from the state's hard-right Israel Beitenu party. Local wags have made quick work of her thin résumé, and even Levy herself admits, "I have no political experience at all." Some Israelis are amused. "This would be like Paris Hilton going to the Senate," says filmmaker Etgar Keret. "You could make a reality show about this."
A scary one: according to the latest polls, Levy's ultranationalist party is surging, and could win as many as 18 seats in Israel's Knesset on Tuesday. Led by Russian émigré Avigdor Lieberman, the party has capitalized on Israel's bellicose post-war mood to snatch votes from both hawks like Netanyahu and doves like Livni. Lieberman probably won't get enough votes to be prime minister. Yet the populist may well be a kingmaker—good news for Levy, who is high on Lieberman's list for parliamentary seats.
For dovish Israelis, Levy's résumé isn't really the problem—it's the hard-line views of her party. Lieberman, a 50-year-old former nightclub bouncer, regularly rails against coexistence with Israel's Arab population. Levy insists the party boss "is not a racist," but has also accused certain segments of the population of being disloyal to the Israeli flag. According to the polls, more and more Israelis agree—a prospect that could make for a troubling fashion trend indeed.