Contestants Miss Iraq, Sarah Eedan (R) and Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman (L) pose together for a selfie, during preparations for the Miss Universe 2017 beauty pageant in Las Vegas, United States November 13, 2017.
(photo credit: SARAH IDAN/SOCIAL MEDIA/VIA REUTERS)
Iraq beauty queen passionately defended Israel addressing the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday.
“The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It’s deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are anti-Semitic,” former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan said.
Idan spoke as “ambassador for Peace” of UN Watch, a non-governmental organization that describes its mandate as “monitoring the performance of the United Nations by the yardstick of its own Charter.”
Born in Bagdad in 1990, Idan spent part of her childhood in Syria to flee the civil war in Iraq. When she was 13, she self-taught herself English by listening to Western music. She later earned a degree in music in Los Angeles.
In 2017, she traveled to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. There she met Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman, and the pair hit it off. Both women posted selfies together on their Instagram feeds. Idan captioned hers: “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” sparking outrage in Iraq and in the Arab world.
“Two years ago, I represented Iraq at Miss Universe," he further recalled in Geneva, highlighting that the Iraqi government did not condemn the threats, nor protected her freedom of expression. "I posted a photo with Miss Israel on social media. I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then, I can no longer return to my homeland."
In June 2018, Idan traveled to Israel, where she visited Gandelsman and took part in the American Jewish Committee Global Forum in Jerusalem.
Speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council, former Miss Iraq also criticized the media.
“When I watched the news last month, why did they never report that the Hamas terrorist organization fired nearly 700 rockets at Israeli civilians in one weekend or that Hamas used Palestinians in Gaza as human shields? Why do they never condemn Hamas for initiating the attacks? Instead, they only show those killed by the response, in self-defense, and blame Israel,” she said.
“For advocating peace, I’m called a traitor,” she added. “Negotiating peace for both states isn’t betraying the Arab cause, but a vital step to end conflict and suffering for all."
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