Miss Israel, Miss Lebanon’s Joint Selfie at Miss Universe Pageant Sparks …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Calls for Lebanese beauty queen’s crown after photo with Miss Israel.

Miss Universe contestant Miss Israel Doron Matalon was just trying to be friendly when she snapped and shared a group selfie that included Miss Lebanon Saly Greige in Miami on Sunday, Jan. 11—but Lebanese TV station Al Jadeed didn’t see it that way. Just appearing in a photo with Miss Israel — apparently unintentionally — was enough to land a Lebanese beauty queen at the centre of an international uproar.A selfie taken by a group of Miss Universe contestants isn’t normally something that makes international news, but a recent photo showing Miss Israel posing alongside a smiling Miss Lebanon has bucked the trend.

In 1993, the government disqualified its Miss Universe representative after Agence France-Presse moved a photo of her smiling arm-in-arm with her Israeli competitor. Miss Lebanon had had her photograph taken with Miss Switzerland, Miss Bolivia, Miss Panama, Miss Kosovo, Miss Lithuania, Miss Nicaragua, Miss Croatia, Miss Italy, Miss Malaysia, Miss Georgia and many, many other Misses. Social media users soon noticed that Lebanon’s Saly Greige was standing next to her, which led to some angy Lebanese folk calling for their country’s contestant to be stripped of her title for ‘consorting with the enemy’. Lebanese are not permitted to travel to Israel and can face imprisonment for doing so. “It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad,” she said. “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 neighbouring country.” It’s not the first time international politics have played a role in Miss Universe pageants. According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the hashtag ‘two words for Miss Lebanon’ was trending on Twitter this weekend, as thousands of Lebanese people fumed against Greige for blatantly fraternising with Matalon.

Though the pair entered and left the building separately, the proud parents to Esmeralda, born this past Sept. 12, were clearly out for a rare date night, all gussied up to take in the stand-up’s show at the Saban Theatre. While Gosling, 34, looked ever the dapper gent in a dark suit and white sneaks, his leading lady, 40, appeared slim (she only gave birth four months ago!) in a leopard-print shift dress topped by a printed coat. As she’s rarely snapped with her beau, the actress explained to Ellen DeGeneres last month just why she and Gosling keep such a low profile. “We decided it’s going to be so hard for [Esmeralda] to have privacy,” Mendes said. “We thought [the secret pregnancy was] the first opportunity we can give her to protect her and so that I had a nice calm pregnancy, which I did.”

The Daily Star quoted a Twitter user who posted, “You could have avoided mingling with the Israeli contestant like previous Lebanese contestants have done throughout the years. Of course, it might be true, but that’s not the point – it seems incredibly sad that she has to try and explain why she’s smiling in an image with a fellow contestant.

And if you were harassed like you say, you could have at least avoided the huge smile [we see] on your face.” The Times of Israel noted that Matalon recently wrapped up her military service in the Israel Defense Forces where she held the rank of sergeant. But as, The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent Richard Spencer explains: “Although it’s childish of Lebanon, the problem isn’t that she posed with an Israeli person, but someone who represents the state of Israel as an entity. It’s not quite as childish as everyone’s making out.” He believes it’s because Matalon is essentially an official ambassador of Israel on a global stage, albeit a glorified beauty contest, that there has been so much anger about the photograph, which points to the bigger picture of how relations stand between Israel and Lebanon. To all my supporters and Lebanese citizens, I would like to thank you indeed for your continuous support of Miss Lebanon at the Miss Universe contest…

The Telegraph’s chief foreign correspondent David Blair explains that it’s because Israelis wouldn’t find the selfie particularly controversial: “In Israel people might think, well done Miss Israel, because it helps support the Israeli view which is that the fundamental cause of the conflict is the Arab world won’t accept them. George Asseily, chairman of the Centre for Lebanese Studies, says: “Lebanon has a problem with Israel and Israel couldn’t care less. “All they want is to grab more land around Israel. In 2006 there was lots of destruction and since then there’s been no improvement in the relationship, because Israel still occupies part of the south and they’re refusing to withdraw although this is Lebanese territory.” Of course Israel would argue otherwise, and perhaps suggest that Lebanon is not the liberal country it wants to be seen as, even though it has provocative pop stars such as Haifa Wehbe, and a virbrant nightclub scene in Beirut where girls dress similarly to those in the West.

Only recently, Lebanese porn star Mia Khalifa, 25, has been receiving horrific abuse and death threats from Muslims in her country, with people writing comments such as: “Ur head will be cut soon inshallah”. As with Miss Lebanon, most of the abuse has taken place over social media – but while Greige has tried to placate her critics, Khalifa fired back at hers: “Doesn’t the Middle East have more important things to worry about besides me? The same could have been said by Greige over the selfie situation – especially as Lebanon’s Tourism Minister Michel Pharaon has said he will launch an investigation into the photograph, suggesting that the Government takes issue with it.

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