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Aynaw (2nd from left) the new Miss Israel 2013, will compete in Miss World; while Bar Hefer (right) was elected Israel’s Maiden of Beauty and will compete in Miss Universe.

Yityish (Titi) Aynaw, 21, of Netanya, was crowned Miss Israel 2013 on Wednesday night. She is the first Ethiopian-born woman who has won the beauty pageant.

In response to a question by one of the contest’s judges, the new beauty queen said: “It’s important to have a first (beauty) queen from the Ethiopian community. Israel has many ethnic groups and many colors, and it’s important to show it to the world.”

Her remark received a warm round of applause from the audience at the Haifa Congress Center.

Yityish, which means “a look to the future” Amharic, served as an officer in the IDF and now runs a fashion store. She immigrated to Israel at the age of 12. “My aliyah was pretty tough,” she said. “A new language, a modern society. I’m lucky to have had a friend, Noa, who befriended me from the start and helped me out. I didn’t study in a ulpan. I was thrown into the deep water and learned the best that way.”

Asked during the competition which historical character had influenced her the most, she mentioned Martin Luther King: “He fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here – to show that there are also good things in my community, which are not presented in the media.

“I see it as a mission to represent Israel’s different colors. There are not enough dark-skinned models in Israel.

“I hope to become a successful model thanks to the contest and create a change in the perception of dark-skinned models. I would be happy to be the first Ethiopian television host, an Israeli Tyra Banks.”

Yityish will represent Israel at the Miss World 2013 competition to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, on September 20th.