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Both high nerves and relief abound in the Druse community, surrounding last week's announcement that Angelina Fares, 18, the first ever Druse competitor in the Miss Israel beauty queen pageant, will not participate in Tuesday's show.
Fares' decision followed a number of serious threats made on her life by residents of the predominantly Druse village of Sajur in northern Israel, where she and her family live. Many people there viewed her involvement in the pageant as a stain on the community's reputation.
Last week, police arrested Jalal Hammoud, 30, and his cousin, Zayed Hammoud, allegedly thwarting their plot to murder Fares for the sake of preserving Druse honor.
Fares formally withdrew from the pageant last Monday at a press conference in the village of Julis. In her statement she expressed regret about the heated controversy that her actions have caused among the Druze population. Her intentions in entering the pageant, Fares explained, were purely innocent and honorable.
Still, a representative of Fares remarked Thursday, "she's in a bad situation." Describing the former contestant's feelings of anxiousness as the pageant approaches, she said, "Angelina is very nervous. It's a mess in her community." Fares declined to comment herself.
Bat Cohen, public relations director for the pageant, insisted that the show recognizes that Fares' concerns were not unfounded. "She decided to leave the competition," Cohen explained, emphasizing that it was Fares' personal decision. "We understand the reason."
Amidst this uproar, 19 other women harbor their own very different worries. As they enter into final rehearsals, the pageant's remaining contestants move still closer to the Miss Israel crown. Winning it would be their ticket to representing the country in the Miss Universe competition.
The contestants are not the only ones eagerly awaiting Tuesday's show. Hosted by actor and top model Galit Gutman, the 2007 pageant promises many new features and surprises. This will include special musical acts and appearances by Teapacks, Tzvika Pik and more, a new song by Sarit Hadad and a special duet performance of by Aya Korem and Din Din Aviv. The 12 judge panel will also show off a number of familiar celebrity faces, like Michal Yinai, Ilanit Levi and Rodrigo Gonzales of Dancing with the Stars.
The 57th annual Miss Israel Beauty Queen Pageant, sponsored by La'Isha women's magazine, will air this Tuesday, March 13 at 20:45 on channel 2, broadcasting live from Congress Center in Haifa.
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