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From fencing champ to beauty queen: Meet the reigning Miss Israel

  •  Miss Lebanon denies taking photo with Miss Israel, says she ‘photo-bombed’ her


Avigail Alfatov eats her pizza upside down and has funny hiccups. Her favorite food is falafel and she makes her face shine by wiping it with green tea bags.

How do we know this and, perhaps more important, why do we care?

Well, Alfatov is the reigning Miss Israel and is the country’s entry in the Miss Universe Pageant, which airs December 20 on Fox. These are just a few of the fun facts listed on her contestant profile.

She is also a national fencing champion, would love to meet Michael Jordan and has volunteered with Akim, an organization that works with people suffering from intellectual disabilities.

It’s 7:30 a.m. and she’s on the phone with JTA from Las Vegas, where the pageant will be held. (Some activities, such as the swimsuit and evening gown competitions, begin December 16; the grand finale is the December 20 broadcast from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.) Alfatov has just arrived from Israel; she’s tired and, as her handler points out, she’s a little nervous about her English skills. So our questioning starts with the easy stuff, her background.

“My parents were born in the Ukraine and came to Israel,” she says. “I was born in Israel. We are not very religious.”

They emigrated because “to be Jewish in other countries is not good, so they didn’t want me to be born in this place [Ukraine].”

Her father is a graphic designer, her mother a teacher. Alfatov was raised in Acre, a coastal community and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Middle East. Its population is a mix of Jews, Muslims, Christians and Bahais.

Acre is also the place where the Israeli Olympic fencing team trains, she says, and every school in town teaches fencing.

“I really liked it and continued,”Alfatov says.

“Continued” is putting it mildly. She is the national youth champion in Israel and hopes — nay, expects — to be part of Israel’s 2020 team in Tokyo.

She is in the Air Force, handling “security


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