President Barack Obama will have dinner with the first-ever black Miss Israel when he makes his first visit to the Jewish state as US leader 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 country’s premier beauty queen contest last month.
Her presence among 120 guests who will also include Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Lt General Benny Gantz, the army chief of staff, and Rueven Rivlin, the Knesset speaker puts her ahead of many more august figures who have failed amid a desperate clamour to secure invites.
The mass circulation 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 told the newspaper that 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.