JERUSALEM (JTA) — Yityish Aynaw, the first Miss Israel of Ethiopian descent, has been invited to meet President Obama at a dinner hosted by President Shimon Peres.
Aynaw, 21, who was crowned two weeks ago, reportedly was invited at the behest of Obama’s advance team, which is currently in Israel putting the finishing touches on plans for next week’s visit.
In interviews with the Israeli media on Wednesday, Aynaw called Obama an inspiration and a role model.
"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 told the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot.
She told the Jerusalem Post that she thought she was invited to the dinner because she is “the first black Miss Israel to be chosen and [Obama] is the first black American president. These go together.”
Aynaw, who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with her grandparents at the age of 12, said in an interview Wednesday with Israel’s Channel 2 that when she meets Obama she will tell him he has been a role model and that he should free Jonathan Pollard.
She told the interviewer that as head of her high school student council she worked on many projects calling for the release of Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for spying for Israel. "If I have the opportunity, why not?" she said.