In 1998, when Linor Abargil, the reigning Miss Israel, was crowned Miss World in the oldest of all international beauty pageants, she shed tears — perhaps of joy, maybe of anger, possibly a mixture of both.
When Yitayish “Titi” Ayenew, the first black Miss Israel, was a young orphan who moved from Ethiopia to Israel, it was learning the Hebrew language that turned around her fortunes.
When Yityish Aynaw emigrated from Ethiopia to Israel at age 12, she was thrust into an Israeli classroom. An orphan lacking Hebrew skills, Aynaw says she relied on other kids and her own sheer ambition to get through.
Yityish Aynaw may have a meeting set up with President Barack Obama when he travels to Israel later this week, but getting one with a U.S. embassy employee in Tel Aviv is a more difficult task.
Yityish Aynaw, the first Miss Israel of Ethiopian descent, has been invited to meet President Obama at a dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres.
Miss Lebanon is boycotting this year's Miss Universe pageant, saying she will not participate alongside Miss Israel. Yamit Har-Noy, a 20-year-old member of the Israel Defense Force, called Christina Sawaya's decision "very distressing." "It is only a beauty pageant," Miss Israel said of the competition, which took place May 29 in Puerto Rico. "It has nothing to do with politics."