Survivors of the Holocaust participated in a beauty pageant in Jerusalem, Israel on Tuesday, Nov. 16, as the controversial event drew criticism due to the perceived disrespect towards victims of Nazi rule and the pageant’s connection to a Trump supporter.

The Miss Holocaust Survivor beauty pageant, which has been held on and off since 2009, had over 12 finalists with ages ranging between 70 and 90. After walking a runway and giving speeches to a crowd of 2,000, 86-year-old Selena Steinfeld from Haifa, Israel was declared the winner, according to the Daily Beast.

Yad Ezer l’Haver organizes the event. The founder and CEO of the organization, Shimon Sabag, said that he thought of the event after Holocaust survivor Shoshana Kolmer expressed interest in joining a pageant.

He stated that he wanted to give Holocaust survivors a chance to live out on the childhood that they missed, saying that it gives them an added dose of glamor in their lives while giving them respect for their experiences, Reuters reported.

“It seemed odd, women in their 80s and 90s, but I came to realize that they could do it no less than a girl of 18,” Sabag said. “It is not a competition of outward beauty, but one in which each competitor says, ‘I was in Lodz, I managed to survive and raise a family, I volunteer, I feel that I vanquished the Nazis and I’m alive and kicking.’”

However, the event has proven controversial in some circles for what is perceived as trivializing the horrors of the Holocaust, as well as the fact that the event is funded by evangelical Zionist Mike Evans, who is a known supporter of former U.S. President Donald Trump and former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rami Ostrovski, whose mother Miriam Ostrovski survived multiple Nazi extermination camps, said that the competition was “pathetic and idiotic and exploitative of the Holocaust."

Expanding further, she said that “[it] is not clear to me what its purpose is, but I’ll bet there is money behind it,” possibly referring to Mike Evans owning the Friends of Zion Museum, which is where the event was hosted.

Evans’ spokesperson, Tal Marom, denied the charge, however. “There is absolutely no politics involved in this at all. Mike Evans is providing the facilities for the pageant and he gives millions of dollars to Holocaust survivors every year.”

A beauty pageant hosted for Holocaust survivors transpired on Tuesday, Nov. 17, as the event came under heavy scrutiny following the occasion's links to Trump supporter Mike Evans. This is a representational image. Taylor Brandon/Unsplash.

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