Prior to the airing of the annual Miss Universe pageant, the women involved in the competition spend a few weeks hanging out with each other and promoting the event. However, for Miss Israel Doron Matalon and Miss Lebanon Saly Greige, their socializing before Sunday’s (Jan. 25) event turned into something of a controversy.
On Jan. 11, Matalon posted the above photo on Instagram, which features her smiling next to Miss Japan, Miss Slovenia and Greige. Unfortunately for Greige, the photo sparked outrage among some Lebanese in the comment section, due to the fact that Israel and Lebanon are still in conflict with each other.
After receiving criticism — and reposting the photo with Matalon cropped out — Greige took to Facebook on Jan. 17 to defend herself.
“The truth behind the photo: 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 (that tried several times to have a photo with me),” writes Greige. “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 … this is what happened and I hope to have your full support in the Miss Universe contest.”
However, Matalon then took to Instagram to express her feelings about the dispute that came from her photo.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it still makes me sad,” writes Matalon. “Too bad you cannot 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.”
In response to the controversy, on Wednesday (Jan. 21), Donald Trump (who owns the Miss Universe Organization along with NBC Universal) had his own message to relay to Matalon and Greige: “No more fighting!”
In the above video, Trump says,”Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon are fighting like cats and dogs. It shouldn’t be happening, they’re at the Miss Universe pageant. We bring people together. Let’s get together — no more fighting.”
The 2014 Miss Universe Pageant airs on Sunday (Jan. 25) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.