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Miss Israel, Miss Lebanon’s Joint Selfie at Miss Universe Pageant Sparks Political Controversy: Hear Both Sides

Isn't it all about world peace?

Miss Universe contestant Miss Israel Doron Matalon was just trying to be friendly when she snapped and shared a group selfie that included Miss Lebanon Saly Greige in Miami on Sunday, Jan. 11—but Lebanese TV station Al Jadeed didn't see it that way.

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In a photo that also featured Miss Slovenia Urska Bracko and Miss Japan Keiko Tsuji, Matalon, 21, and Greige, 25, were pictured smiling together. Innocent enough, it would seem—but Israel and Lebanon have long been sworn enemies. Intended or otherwise, the photo created a strong political statement, inciting outrage from both sides.

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According to Miss Lebanon, Miss Israel photobombed a private selfie that was already in motion. "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 Israel," Greige wrote on her Facebook page. "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, on the other hand, countered via her Instagram page. "It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad," the Israeli pageant queen captioned a screenshot of an article entitled, "That Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel trouble once again!" 

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She added to Greige and the media, "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 neighboring country."

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To discuss the so-called "selfie heard 'round the world," Matalon also visited the Today show on Monday, Jan. 19. "Even just for three weeks, just between me and her…," Miss Israel shared, "We need to remember that we represent the country and the people, not the government and not the political issues."

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