The trouble started last week, when this year’s Miss Israel Doron Matalon posted a photo on Instagram featuring herself alongside Saly Griege, this year’s Miss Lebanon, and her fellow contestants from Japan and Slovenia.
The picture caused an uproar in Lebanon, which has a law forbidding its citizens from fraternizing with Israelis. In 1993, the government disqualified its Miss Universe representative after Agence France-Presse moved a photo of her smiling arm-in-arm with her Israeli competitor.
For her part, Griege claimed that she had been the victim of a sinister photobomb, writing on Facebook and Instagram, “I was very cautious to avoid being in any photo or communication with Miss Israel (that tried several times to have a photo with me) … I was having a photo with Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and myself; suddenly Miss Israel jumped in, took a selfie, and put it on her social media.”
Matalon responded with a Facebook post of her own, saying that Griege’s reaction “doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad.” Addressing her rival, she added, “Too bad you can not put the hostility out of the game, only for three weeks of an experience of a lifetime that we can meet girls from around the world and also from the neighbouring [sic] country.”
The New York Post reports that the Lebanese government has launched an investigation into the photo. The Miss Universe pageant is scheduled to take place Sunday in Miami.