Miss Lebanon & Miss Israel's Selfie Caused The Lebanese Beauty Queen A Lot Of Trouble Back Home

Politics is a mischievous and often destructive force, and sometimes even beauty pageants aren't exempt from it. A couple of Miss Universe contestants witnessed that first-hand as politics reared its ugly head when Miss Israel's selfie with Miss Lebanon caused outrage in Lebanon, after Miss Lebanon Saly Greige's fellow citizens slammed the beauty queen for a picture she took with her Slovenian, Japanese, and Israeli counterparts.

The picture of the four contestants at the pageant in Miami is, in itself, super cute — all four women are dressed casually, flashing their pearly whites — which Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, posted on her Instagram account. Lebanese people quickly took to social media to accuse Greige of consorting with the enemy — the countries are technically at war, despite the border having been relatively quiet since the brutal conflict in 2006, and any contact with Israel is illegal in Lebanon.

In response to the criticism, Miss Lebanon posted a cropped version of the picture on Instagram, this time excluding Matalon, who she accused of photobombing the selfie. The caption said:

The truth behind the photo, since the first day of my arrival to participate to Miss universe,I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss isreal, who tried several times to take a photo with me. I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia, suddenly Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie, and uploaded it on her social media. This is what happened and I hope to have your full support in the Miss Universe contest.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the original picture stirred so much ire in Lebanon that there were calls to strip Greige of her title for her contact with a member of an enemy state. For her part, Matalon was less apologetic, calling the whole situation "sad."

While the whole incident may seem a little silly on the surface, I would suggest digging slightly deeper into why Lebanese people took such offense at the photo. Lebanon and Israel have a long-standing hostile relationship, partly because of Israel's history of aggression toward Lebanon, as well as the prominence of Hezbollah, considered by the U.S. and European Union to be a terrorist organization, in Lebanese politics. That public opinion against the photo was so strong points to a deep-seated anger in Lebanese society against Israel, one that probably no number of friendly selfies between members of warring nations can heal.

Image: Doron Matalon/Instagram