Miss Universe: A Political Postscript

I previewed this year’s Miss Universe pageant here and here. In the first linked post, I noted that a controversy had broken out over a photo of Miss Iraq and Miss Israel that both contestants posted on Instagram:

The photo caused an uproar in the Islamic world, to the point where Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, apologized to “everyone who saw it as an insult to the Palestinian cause.” (Almost exactly the same thing happened during the 2015 pageant, when a picture of Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon was published. Miss Lebanon disavowed it, claiming that she had been taken unawares.)

Now there is a sequel, as reported by the Times of Israel:

Relatives of the Iraqi contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant were forced to flee the Middle Eastern country over photos with her Israeli counterpart and Miss Iraq’s modeling in a bikini, Miss Israel told Hadashot news Wednesday.

“The two of those things together caused a mess for her back home where people made threats against her and her family that if she didn’t return home and take down the photos, they would remove her (Miss Iraq) title, that they would kill her,” Adar Gandelsman told Israeli TV.

“Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down,” the Miss Universe Israel contestant added, referring to the family of Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, who now lives in the US.

I believe Miss Iraq is a lawyer who lives in Los Angeles. She and Miss Israel are friends and have talked since the pageant. Miss Gandelsman says that Miss Idan told her she “does not regret the decision to post the photos. ‘She did it to so that people can understand that it’s possible to live together,’ she said.”

Beauty contests are essentially trivial, although they are taken more seriously in most parts of the world than here in the U.S. But such cultural phenomena often reveal truths that statesmen and pundits prefer not to acknowledge. When Muslims threaten to murder the family of a beauty contestant because she was photographed with an Israeli, forcing them to flee the country, it is blindingly obvious that the real obstacle to “peace” in the Middle East is not some nuance of Israeli building permit policy.

Since you asked, Miss South Africa, Demi‑Leigh Nel‑Peters, the first four-name pageant contestant ever, won the Miss Universe title this year:


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