Sarah Idan, the woman who currently holds the title as Miss Iraq, is in Israel and drawing harsh criticism from those in her native land for making a visit there. Last December, Idan was peppered with death threats after she posted a selfie of herself and Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel, on social media. The fallout from the social media pic was so bad that that relatives of Idan, who lives in Los Angeles, were forced to flee their homes in Iraq. At the time, Idan also was harshly criticized for wearing a bikini in the swimsuit portion of the Miss Universe pageant.
The American Jewish Committee invited Idan to Israel to “talk about peace.” During her visit, Idan has made stops at the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center in Or Yehuda, The Associated Press reported, where she posed alongside an old photo showing 1947 Miss Baghdad Renee Dangoor, and the Mahane Yehuda Market, where she took in some Iraqi Jewish cuisine, according to a post on her Instagram account. Upon arriving in Jerusalem, Idan was reunited with Gandelsman and the two made a short video that was posted on Instagram in which they can be seen telling followers, “Shalom!” and blowing kisses.
In Israel, Idan is being hailed a hero, but in the Arab world, the response has been quite different. According to The Associated Press, people in her native country are enraged that she traveled to Israel. Still, Idan is undeterred by the harsh criticism, as she mentioned in a talk she gave at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum on Wednesday.
“I seek peace. I traveled thousands of miles and put my life at risk not just to express how so many of us are tired of this endless war between our countries,” she said, according to Haaretz. “My hope is I get to see my Jewish brothers and sisters roam freely from Jerusalem to Ramallah, to Babylon and to the Nile, and for my fellow Arabs and Muslims to walk through Israel without fear of having an Israel stamp in their passports.”
Idan also told the audience about how she and Gandelsman became fast friends when they met last November at the pageant in Las Vegas. “We became friends in less than 10 minutes,” Idan said. “All it took for us to feel connected was we were both not concerned with the difference of our faith, beliefs and nationality.”
The pair also took part in an interview with i24News. Watch that below.