Niral Karantinji, winner of the Israeli reality show “The Models”
The second season of The Models, Israel’s version of America’s Next Top Model, just ended with a bang and a ton of publicity. The winner of the contest is Niral Karantinji (Hebrew Wikipedia entry on Niral here), a 20 year-old Arab-Israeli Muslim woman from Haifa.
Besides all the challenges of the competition itself, the stunning young woman had to deal with a lot of controversy connected with her ethnicity. One of the competitors, an Ethiopian-Israeli woman named Mimi Tadesa, didn’t like Niral at all. Whilst cat fights between young women in a modeling competition are normal, it is perhaps less normal for one competitor to call the other “a terrorist” – as Mimi reportedly called Niral.
Niral also had to deal with criticism in her own community. Her parents were not at all happy to see her drinking alcohol, which is forbidden to Muslims, on one episode of the show. They – and quite a few other Muslim Israelis – were also very displeased to see Niral posing topless in another episode.
On the other hand, as an Arab-Israeli DJ from Haifa said in a mini-documentary about Niral that was broadcast one week after her victory, it’s not fair to put the expectations of the entire community on the shoulders of one individual. If you don’t like what you see, turn off the television. Don’t look. She represents only herself, and more power to her.