After generations of intractable conflict, it can take unusual methods to bring the people of the Middle East together.
Miss Iraq Sarah Idan and Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman—two contestants in the November 2017 Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas—have formed an unlikely friendship, one that has endured despite social stigma and even death threats.
The two beauty queens have reunited in Jerusalem six months after they posed together for photos that eventually forced Idan to flee Iraq with her family, the BBC has reported.
“I don’t think Iraq and Israel are enemies, I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other,” Idan said in an interview with Channel 2 News on Tuesday.
“With the people – there’s a lot of Iraqi people that don’t have a problem with Israelis with the Jewish people.”
Ofir Gendelman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman for the Arab world, praised Idan’s visit on Twitter in both English and Arabic.
“Miss Iraq Sara Idan is currently visiting Israel & has reunited w/ Miss Israel, her old friend from the @MissUniverse pageant,” he wrote on Tuesday. “Welcome to Israel! Friendly relations between Israelis & Arabs will definitely [sic] help in ushering in a better tomorrow for all of us in the Middle East.”