Friday, April 12, 2013

Israel’s Ethiopian Beauty Queen Sparks Debate

(Apr 11, 2013, (The Daily Beast))--Yityish “Titi” Aynaw was crowned “Miss Israel” just in time to be invited to meet with President Obama on his first presidential visit to Israel. Titi is the first black “Miss Israel,” and the first from Israel’s 130,000-strong Ethiopian immigrant community.

Titi has a compelling story. She lost her father as an infant and her mother at age 10 while still in Ethiopia, and came to Israel to join her grandparents who had previously made aliyah. In one decade, she became an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, returned to Ethiopia to discover her parents’ story, and is now one of the most famous Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. A striking woman, at 5’9” and in heels, Titi towered over Israeli president Shimon Peres and even topped Obama.

The 2013 version of the 63-year-old Miss Israel competition is part beauty pageant and part reality show. Given that viewers vote online or by text, Titi’s success can at least to some degree be seen to reflect the will of the people. 

As Tzvi Gottlieb pointed out in these pages, Titi is not alone; another Ethiopian woman and a Black Hebrew woman along with a number of Israeli Arab women have scored big on reality TV, peaking with the victory of Lina Makhoul in the Israeli version of The Voice on Passover.  Read more from The Daily Beast ». 

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