A 21-year-old woman became the first Ethiopian-Israeli contestant to win the Miss Israel 2013 beauty pageant. Yityish Aynaw is a former IDF officer who had immigrated with her family to Israel 10 years ago. During the competition, she referred to U.S. civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as her hero.
King “fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here: I want to show that my community has many pretty qualities that aren’t always represented in the media,” she told the judges in response to a question during the competition Wednesday, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Jews have been present in Ethiopia for more than 2,000 years and were persecuted for centuries there. In 1984 and 1991, the Israeli government conducted two operations, Operation Moses and Operation Solomon, to bring thousands of Ethiopian Jews to settle in Israel. According to the Israeli Bureau of Statistics, as of 2011 the Ethiopian community in Israel numbered more than 125,000 people.
“It’s important that a member of the Ethiopian community wins the competition for the first time… there are many different communities of many different colors in Israel, and it’s important to show that to the world,” Aynaw also said. For a photo of Aynaw, click here.