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THE SHOW MUST GO ON: Miss Universe Pageant carries on in Israel despite travel ban

Competition scheduled for Dec. 12 provides the only tourists allowed in the Holy Land this week with 80 contestants galavanting around the country

Miss Universe contestants visit the Tower of David Museum in the Old City of Jerusalem during an official visit ahead of the 70th Miss Universe pageant to be held in Eilat next month. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

While all non-nationals – including family members and friends of Israelis and all tourists – are barred from entering Israel, the Miss Universe pageant will go on.

The Dec. 12 show was not canceled despite a sudden draconian ban on foreign entry into the Holy Land after the Corona Cabinet’s quick decision to close the borders upon discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Israel.

In fact, the 80 contestants are already in Israel touring the sites. An ALL ISRAEL NEWS staff member saw one of the entourages in Ein Karem which is situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Last week, a fully vaccinated contestant tested positive for COVID-19 upon her arrival in Israel and was whisked off to a government-run coronavirus quarantine facility.

The competition is scheduled to take place in Eilat, the southern Israeli city on the Red Sea apparently under strict COVID protocols, albeit less strict than for tourists who had to cancel their trips.

The international Miss Universe organization selected Israel for its 70th Miss Universe Competition, which will be broadcast live to over 600 million viewers via the Fox network in 172 countries, the website says. Despite the border closures, tickets were on sale on the website.

The Israeli government issued several contradictory decisions last week:

  • On Sunday it decided to use counter-terrorism phone-tracking in order to surveil people who tested positive for the virus. Then on Thursday, it suddenly reversed the decision and dropped the controversial decision to track people’s phones.

  • It closed the border to foreigners causing turmoil in the tourism industry and effectively separating families who haven’t seen each other for years. But it allowed Israelis to continue traveling abroad, including Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s wife who flew overseas with her children – just days after Bennett himself urged Israelis to avoid unnecessary foreign travel.

Another shocking aspect of these decisions is the people voting in favor of them. For example, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz – head of the far-left party, Meretz – said phone tracking was necessary and in this case was “very limited.”

“I decided with the authority vested in me to acquiesce to the request of the experts, and make this decision,” he said.

But sitting in the opposition prior to this government taking power in June, Horowitz called such measures “dictatorial” and typically voted against them.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope party, voted against, which he has in the past, along with Ministers Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beiteinu), Yifat Shasha-Biton (New Hope) and Orna Barbivai (Yesh Atid) who opposed the move. Avidar accused the head of the Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, of “falling in love with this tool.” 

Nicole Jansezian is the news editor for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS

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