Huda Naccache, a 22 year old Israeli-Arab model, is at the center of a media frenzy in Israel.
She posed in a revealing bikini for the cover of Lilac magazine, and while she defends her decision as normal, the wall-to-wall coverage the sexy photo is getting in Israeli media suggests otherwise.
“The cover shoot was the first time an Arabic magazine [in Israel] has put a model in a bikini on its cover,” reported AFP, “ and the first time an Arab-Israeli model has been featured on a front page in so little clothing.”
Naccache, a native of Haifa who is studying archaeology and geography, is not the first Arab woman to raise eyebrows—and cause a mini scandal—by showing some skin.
Rima Fakih is widely believed to be the first Lebanese American, the first Arab American and the first Muslim to win the Miss USA title in 2010. Fakih was defiant of conservative Muslims who denounced her title—even more so when video images of her pole dancing appeared.
Naccache is a Christian Arab, one of the 1.2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel. She told reporters that her parents are proud of her choice.
“I have a family that supports me very much and had no objections whatsoever to me appearing on the cover in a bikini,” she told AFP.
“My father was very pleased when he saw it for the first time. He said it was very beautiful and wished me good luck.”
According to her profile, Huda would use her position as Miss Earth to further the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace.
“First of all, the project I want to create will combine both the environment and politics, and it would be called ‘Earth for Peace,’” she wrote on the Miss Earth web site.
“As you know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affects our lives in the Middle East on a daily basis and we are in dire need of peace. I believe that children are the hope of the future; therefore, I would launch a project which will include Israeli and Arab children from the surrounding neighbour countries (for example: Jordan and Palestine). My project will have them work together on tasks that raise awareness about the environmental hazards which threaten our world. Children are the future so we must invest our efforts in them. And I would propose working with schoolchildren of different ages.”
While Israel is an oasis of tolerance in the Mideast, with a large gay population, an international gay pride parade, and scantily clad women and men filling its warm beaches, the Arab population tends to be more conservative and traditional.
That’s one reason why Naccache and Lilac magazine, published in Arabic in Nazareth, are attracting so much attention.
Lilac editor-in-chief Yara Mashour took the bold step opf featuring Huda front and center and nearly nude precisely to confront those norms—and because Huda, in her opinion, is a world-class model.
“First, [we are] allowing for an Israeli Arab model to represent both Jewish and Arab women of the country,” Mashour told The Daily Mail. “ Second, [we are] starting a new concept of Arab women who are willing to break social taboos and dare to boast and share their physical beauty in public.’
For her part, posing on the cover doesn’t event arte as the most unusual thing Huda’s ever done. That honor goes to: riding a roller coaster.
“I have acrophobia,” she wrote on her Miss Earth profile. “Last summer I challenged myself! I went to this amusement park called the Luna Park in Tel Aviv and tried a few rides that I used to fear because of my acrophobia. It was fun!”
MISS EARTH ISRAEL 2011
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 119 lbs
Vital Statistics: 84-60-90 (in centimeters!!)
Occupation: Archeology & Geography Student
Special Interest: Reading books, Watching horror, action and comedy movies, Aerobics, swimming, playing volleyball, and dancing