Former Miss Iraq speaks out at UN about Jewish refugees

Sarah Idan, who received death threats after she posted the selfie with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, spoke of what she learned about the issue when she visited Israel last year.

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)
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)
Sarah Idan, who represented Iraq at the Miss Universe pageant in 2017 and had her citizenship revoked after she posed for a photo with an Israeli beauty queen, spoke at an event held by Israel’s UN Mission to mark the expulsion of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East following the establishment of the State of Israel.This is the latest instance in which Idan, who has become an unofficial good will ambassador for Israel, has publicly showed her support.
The event took place at UN headquarters in New York a day after the UN commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the General Assembly’s passage of the resolution recommended that Palestine be divided into Jewish and Arab states, also know as the “Partition Plan.”
The event was held in coordination with JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa), and was attended by ambassadors from around the world and UN officials.
Idan, who received death threats after she posted the selfie with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, spoke about what she learned about this issue when she visited Israel, according to a report in Algemeiner: “I was very surprised and especially touched by the experience of visiting the Babylonian Heritage Museum in Or Yehuda — which serves as a center to honor the heritage and history of Iraqi Jews.”
On her 2018 visit to Israel, she met Gandelsman and the two posed for more pictures. She documented her visit on her Instagram account, with photos of her posing at historic sites and enjoying Iraqi food at Israeli restaurants.
She said she felt a strong bond with Iraqi-born Jews in Israel: “I was born in Baghdad and felt very connected to the Iraqi Jews I met in Jerusalem, who welcomed me with open arms and with so much love, even though my country treated them unfairly. I was overwhelmed when I saw pictures of Iraqi government stamps on their passport saying ‘one-way exit — not allowed to return.’ I told them I was utterly ashamed.. .
“Sadly, the 3,000-year chapter of Jewish life in Iraq, along with the larger Middle East and North Africa came to an abrupt and traumatic end – and much of this is the result of antisemitism,”
Idan, Iraq’s first Miss Universe contestant in 45 years, now lives in California. She spoke in support of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this past summer.
Last month, she discussed prospects for Middle East peace in an interview with i24News: “I feel I speak for many people when I say we are tired of using these two words, the Palestinian Cause, as a weapon... to justify hatred, to justify violence, to justify that we need to be at war when it should be that we reach a solution for the two countries... I’m not a politician. I’m trying to influence people, to open their eyes, especially the Arab people... to things that they are not seeing.”