Miss Israel has hit back at Miss Lebanon over a selfie scandal that has caused a global stir.
Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, has denied she photobombed Miss Lebanon after a photograph she posted on Instagram sparked a backlash in Lebanon.
Matalon posted a photograph of herself with Miss Slovenia, Miss Japan, and Miss Lebanon onInstagram last week, with all four beauty queens smiling at the camera.
The photo, which has since been deleted from her account, was simply captioned “Good morning from us! Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, Miss Lebanon & I”.
However, the innocent-looking image caused a backlash, as Lebanon and Israel are technically at war.
Some Lebanese people on social media said Saly Greige should lose her title for making contact with a citizen of the enemy country, while Lebanese media have said Greige should have known better.
In response, Greige said she had been trying to avoid Miss Israel but had been ambushed for a photo while she was trying to take her own with Miss Slovenia, Urska Bracko, and Miss Japan, Keiko Tsuji.
Greige reposted the photograph on her own Instagram account, but cropped out Miss Israel.
“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 Israel, who tried several times to take a photo with me,” Greige said.
“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.”
She continued: “This is what happened and I hope to have your full support in the Miss Universe contest”.
Matalon responded to Greige’s comments on Instagram as well, saying it was sad that Greige could not see past their countries’ historical animosity.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad,” Matalon wrote.
“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.”
In an interview, Matalon said she hadn’t photobombed her Lebanese counterpart.
“It wasn’t a surprise,” she said.
The Israeli beauty queen said it was unfortunate they couldn’t just get along as two girls in the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
“I hope for change, and I hope for peace between us; even just for three weeks, even just between me and her,” Matalon said.
“That’s what we need to remember: we represent the country and the people, not the government and not the political issues.”
Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe beauty pageant, told that he hopes the controversy doesn’t affect the contestants’ chances at the contest, but judges sometimes find it hard to separate the contestants from their controversy when it comes time to judge.