An Instagram selfie posted by Israeli Miss Universe contestant Doron Matalon has sparked controversy online.
Matalon posted a photo of herself with Miss Lebanon Saly Greige as well as Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan with the caption, "Good Morning from us!" After posting the picture, online users, including many in Lebanon, expressed outrage that Greige and Matalon were pictured together.
"You (Greige) could have avoided mingling with the Israeli contestant like previous Lebanese contestants have done throughout the years," one user commented online.
Greige has since spoken out to defend herself, alleging that Matalon ambushed her with a photo while she wasn't paying attention.
"To all my supporters and Lebanese citizens, I would like to thank you indeed for your continuous support of Miss Lebanon at the Miss Universe contest," Greige wrote in a Facebook post after many Lebanese people demanded that she have her title taken away. "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) … 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."
Reports note that in Lebanon it is technically a crime to interact with Israeli people, and travel or phone calls to Israel could result in jail time. Matalon has responded to Greige's claims, as well as the controversy in general, and expressed her sadness over the situation that arose from one selfie.
"It doesn't surprise me, but it still makes me sad," Matalon wrote in a Facebook post. "Too bad you can not 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."