Sarah Idan, the Iraqi-born model and musician crowned the 2017 winner of the Miss Iraq pageant, has received numerous hateful comments and death threats, not only directed at herself but also her family, after being photographed with Adar Gandelsman, the winner of the Miss Israel pageant.
“Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” Idan wrote in the caption area accompanying her Instagram post. The photograph was taken at the subsequent Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant in Las Vegas, and posted on Instagram. Despite all the backlash and even threats from sponsors of stripping her of her Miss Iraq title, Idan is poised to receive the UN Watch’s Ambassador for Peace Award in Geneva, Switzerland at the organization’s annual gala in June 2019.
“Sarah Idan was chosen for her courageous and extraordinary actions to promote tolerance, build bridges for peace, and spread a message of hope and unity,” Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Executive Director, stated. “In face of horrific threats, she has become an online advocate for peace, and a fearless opponent of terrorism, hatred and antisemitism, famously taking on the atrocities of Hamas, as well as its apologists such as activist Linda Sarsour, musician Roger Waters and CNN’s Marc Lamont Hill.”
Idan and Adar reunited in 2018 when Idan made a trip into Israel, which only further provoked those who wished her harm for her friendship with an Israeli. She describes feeling welcomed by the Israeli people as she visited the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem with her friend. Furthermore, Idan has apoken out against attacks by Hamas on her social media accounts, called out well known musicians for their anti-semitism, and has made public proclamations of desiring peace between Israelis, Palestineans, and the Middle East as a whole. Iraq does not recognize the soverignity of the Jewish state and there are no diplomatic relations between the two countries at this time.
“I traveled thousands of miles and put my life in a risk not just to express how so many of us are tired of this endless war between our countries…It actually felt weird - the people look like my people. And the city looks like Damascus, like Syria, and I’ve been there, so everything seems familiar to me,” Idan stated according to the Times of Israel.
“I did not think it would blow up like this when I took this picture,” Idan said while visiting Adar in Israel. “I lived for many years in the US, I have many friends who are Jewish or Israeli, I don’t think about people like that.”
“I cannot go to Iraq anytime soon,” she elaborated, not wanting to live in a nation hostile to Israel. “That’s a price I paid and also my family paid since they were forced to leave the country.”
Yet Idan refuses to remove the photo from her personal Instagram account.
“I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” she wrote, going on to apologize “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”
Picture originally found here