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Israeli Wins First Place in World Beauty Contest

December 1, 1998
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Move over, Dana International. Here comes Linor Abargil.

It’s unlikely that the 18-year-old Israeli’s victory in the Miss World beauty pageant will cause the same controversy that ensued earlier this year when some Orthodox politicians denounced Dana International, an Israeli transvestite, after she triumphed in the Eurovision song contest.

Abargil defeated 83 other contestants in the pageant held in the Seychelles, an island off of castern Africa.

The Netanya native, wearing a white evening gown, burst into tears when she was chosen over the two other finalists, Miss France and Miss Malaysia.

Abargil’s father said he had been confident that she would triumph.

“The whole time, I had a feeling my daughter would win, while she herself was betting that the contestant from India would,” he said.

Abargil, who models, expressed interest in a career in communications and said she does classical ballet, jazz and modern dance.

In addition to the award of roughly $80,000, Abargil will also have a year of public appearances and work for charitable causes.

But her year as beauty queen may be restricted somewhat when she faces other obligations back home — namely an induction date to for the army service which is compulsory for Jewish youth in Israel at the age of 18.

Abargil’s path to the spotlight began when she was 17 and she placed second in a talent search, which led to a modeling contract. Last March, she was named Miss Israel, which qualified her for the Miss World pageant.

Abargil’s aunt, said it was chance that her niece entered the Miss Israel competition.

“Half a year before the competition, an ad was published in the magazine” inviting candidates to apply, Rachel Reshef told the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot. “I signed Linor up without telling her. Two months later they called her. At first she refused, but was finally convinced to participate. The rest is history.”

Abargil also overcame a reported sex attack just a few weeks before the contest, when she was attacked by a travel agent in Milan, Italy, according to the Sunday London Times.

“I am impressed because she demonstrated great courage” in reporting the event to police and then continuing the pageant, Gilbert Pool, an official with the Seychelles government who helped organize the contest, was quoted as saying.

Abargil is the second Israeli to hold a world beauty pageant title. Rina Mor won the Miss Universe crown in 1976.

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