Obama invites Miss Israel to dinner
US PRESIDENT Barack Obama will have dinner with the first black Miss Israel when he makes his first visit to the Jewish state as US president next week.
An advance party of White House officials insisted on inviting Yityish Aynaw (22) to next Thursday's gala dinner hosted by Shimon Peres, Israel's president, after hearing how she became the first Israeli of Ethiopian origin to win the beauty contest.
Her presence among 120 guests – who will include Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and Lt General Benny Gantz, the army chief of staff – puts her ahead of other august figures who have failed amid a clamour to secure invites.
The 'Yedioth Ahronot' newspaper reported that Ms Aynaw – who emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her Jewish grandparents after the death of her mother when she was 12 – would have the chance to exchange pleasantries with the president.
She said Mr Obama's status as America's first black president had inspired her to make him the subject of her high school graduation essay.
"For me, he is a role model who broke down barriers, a source of inspiration that proves that every person really can reach any height, regardless of their religion, race or gender," she said.
Mr Obama's desire to meet Ms Aynaw is in stark contrast to a snub delivered to Israel's only settlement university, Ariel, in the West Bank. Student representatives have been pointedly excluded from the president's speech at Jerusalem's International Convention Centre, drawing angry criticism from the pro-settler Jewish Home party.
Student representatives from all other universities in Israel have been invited. (© Daily Telegraph, London)