Move over, Prime Minister Netanyahu. The latest Israeli to be accused of pushy international photobombing is Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, whose selfie together with her Lebanese counterpart, Saly Greige, is causing no end of trouble in Lebanon. According to Reuters, “some Lebanese [are] calling for their country’s contestant at the Miss Universe pageant to be stripped of her title for consorting with the enemy”.
In her defense, Greige posted on Instagram: “The truth behind the photo, since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss universe,I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss isreal [sic], who tried several times to take a photo with me. I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media”.
Greige has every right to be worried. In 1993, beauty queen Ghada Turk, Miss Lebanon in the Miss World contest, faced possible charges for the high crime of posing for a photo with Miss Israel Tamara Porat, in violation of the Arab boycott against Israel. After four months of self-imposed exile, Turk returned to Lebanon and was freed after two hours of police questioning.
At that time Reuters reported, “Turk has said that it was a coincidence that she posed with Miss Israel because contestants were told to line up in alphabetical order according to their country’s name for a photo-session”.
How different from the 1955 Miss World contest, when Miss Israel Ilana Carmel and Miss Lebanon Hanya Bedoun were able to link arms without controversy, while Miss Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) Maureen Hingert did a table-tennis-tabletop dance with Miss England Margaret Rowe.
Or the 1960 Miss Universe pageant where Miss Israel Aliza Gur and Miss Lebanon Gladys Tabet posed in the same lineup.
Miss Israel Ester Orgod was on hand in 1971 when Miss Lebanon Georgina Rizk was crowned Miss Universe.
One can only echo the sentiment posted by Matalon on her Instagram feed, “It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad. Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighboring country”.