Israel’s ‘Miss Holocaust Survivor’ Pageant Stirs Controversy

The crowning of the very first “Miss Holocaust Survivor” has caused quite a stir. The event that was meant to be a celebration of life has caused critics to claim that the pageant was exploiting a traumatic experience, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Pageant organizer Helping Hand was aiming to celebrate the survivor stories of the brave woman who had escaped the Holocaust in a country where over 200,000 survivors still live to this day. However, even though organizers claim that the contest was only based 10% on looks, critics are saying that the judging of aging women who have suffered so much on physical appearance at all is inappropriate and offensive.

“Why use a beauty contest to show that these people survived and that they’re brave?” said Lili Haber, a daughter of Holocaust survivor.

“It sounds totally macabre to me,” added opposer Colette Avital. “I am in favour of enriching lives, but a one-time pageant masquerading (survivors) with beautiful clothes is not what is going to make their lives more meaningful.”

Helping Hand insists the fourteen finalists that were apart of the contest enjoyed themselves and that the women appreciated the recognition as they were chosen based on the hardships that they faced when they were younger.

“They feel good together. They are having a good time and laughing in the rehearsals,” said Sabag, the director of the pageant.

The women raging from 74 to 97 did seem to be having a good time as they each had a chance to put on their black dresses, earrings and high heels, showing the audience how beautiful they are, according to Yahoo.

“I have the privilege to show the world that Hitler wanted to exterminate us and we are alive. We are also enjoying life. Thank God it’s that way,” said Esther Libber, a contestant who fled Poland during WWII.

“This place is full of survivors. It puts us at the centre of attention so people will care. It’s not easy at this age to be in a beauty contest, but we’re all doing it to show that we’re still here,” said Romanian Hava Hershkovitz, a survivor of a Soviet Union detention camp.

The Holocaust has played a large role in the history of Israel as the country gained its independence in the wake of the tragic events. Many survivors made their way to the country that served as a refuge to hundred of thousands people after the war.

Do you think Israel’s pageant crowning the “Miss Holocaust Survivor” is offensive or inappropriate?