While world peace and helping children are among the dreams traditionally associated with pageant winners, it seems a return visit to Israel may be among the hopes of a group of American beauty queens.
The 11-strong delegation – including title holders from Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA – met MKs, Israeli soldiers and residents of Sderot during a five-day visit organised by The Face of Israel advocacy organisation.
Kristen Dalton, who won Miss USA 2009, said: “[Israelis] have created an exquisite, highly innovative country that provides job security, democracy, health insurance, and top quality education to people of all religions and races.”
In a post on her blog, Alicia Monique Blanco, who triumphed in Miss Arizona USA in 2009, said: “If Israel had a ‘cover’ title based on what the media portrays, it would be ‘danger,’ ‘warfare,’ ‘disagreement,’ ‘pain,’ ‘death,’ ‘conflict’… and yet after just the first day I realized that this couldn’t be any further from the truth.”
Another member of the delegation, Mallory Hagan, marvelled at the Israel tech sector and described the visit as the “most life-changing” she has had the opportunity to engage in.
The group’s visit took in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Yad Vashem and the Barzilai hospital children’s ward. Delegates also had an opportunity to develop deeper connections with Israeli counterparts in areas where they have developed careers from entertainment to Government to business.
Jason Pearlman, UK director of The Face of Israel – which works to promote Israel internationally by bringing influential figures to the country – initiated the visit.
“This was a very successful expansion of our work,” he said. “We’ve already had a number of requests from local groups in the US for members of the group to come to speak about Israel. They are fantastic ambassadors who show the true face on Israel both in person and to their thousands of followers on social media.”