Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
July 30th, 2009
Contestant No. 2
Full Episode
Duah Fares is an Arab-Israeli teenager and member of the Druze religion. When she sets her sights on the Miss Israel pageant, her tight-knit religious community balks. The pageant requires contestants to wear a bathing suit, an act that could disgrace her family and even put her in danger.
Tags: ,
  • susanne hudson

    My advice would be, skip the contest…Miss whatever contests are silly at the best of times and not worth risking your life for.

  • Tom Ultranova

    Susanne Hudson–you haven’t a clue about what is really happening in this film. This young woman is not actually concerned about a beauty contest, she is desperately worried about an exit out of a life that offers her nothing. This is much more complex than simple beauty contests. Pity if that is what most viewers take away from it.

  • Anna

    The Israeli Pageantry Committee should be ashamed for not being more flexible and for not trying to accommodate this young woman. They could have easily allowed her to participate by simply modifying her wardrobe so she would not be compromising her beliefs or her dreams.

  • David G.

    I saw your excellent program about this beautiful woman who was not allowed to achieve her dream due to external forces. What a crazy world we live in! I would love to see PBS do a Documentary on the Orphans of Burma/Myanmar’s 60 year war with it’s own country men. If you would like assistance in creating such as show would love to assit you with contacts in the border reagions between thailand and Burma.

  • Lalita

    I feel really bad for Duah, it’s awful to have your dream take away from you, even for religious reasons. I wish that she was able to continue. In the end like she said, it’s ultimately her life not the community’s.

  • Sharon

    You showed much inner strength even within all the turmoil you went through, and still are probably going through. Whatever course your life will take, this as well as other qualities will only serve to make you stronger. Make you into the person you will become. You are beautiful inside and out. I empathize with you, and I salute you… not especially for the choice you made, but “how” you made it. It took so much inner poise and strength. To me, you are a truly wonderful person. Whatever you will end up doing in life, you will be an asset. Best wishes go out to you, and to your mom and dad, and sister. Have a happy life. … Make lemon-ade when life “seems” to give you lemons! (:)

  • Sharon

    You showed much inner strength even within all the turmoil you went through, and still are probably going through. Whatever course your life will take, this as well as other qualities will only serve to make you stronger. Make you into the person you will become. You are beautiful inside and out. I empathize with you, and I salute you… for “how” you made your ultimate choice. It took so much inner poise and strength. To me, you are a truly wonderful person. Whatever you will end up doing in life, you will be an asset. Best wishes go out to you, and to your mom and dad, and sister. Have a happy life. … Make lemon-ade when life “seems” to give you lemons! (:) Somehow, it will work out! (:)

  • Nena

    The thing that saddens me about this episode is the pummeling of a woman’s desire under the guise of her family’s honor and her peoples grace. I agree that no pageant is worth your life but this is about more than a pageant. How powerless she must feel in the direction of her own life…

  • Nezir Ahmed

    Watching Contestant #2 was a very emotional experience for me. As a Muslim I find myself going against many of the beliefs about how women should be treated or the restrictions that are applied to them. Maybe this is the American in me but I truly believe Angelina (Duah)had every right to follow her dreams. I just wish an agency picks her up and gives her a modeling contract for the strength that she’s shown and the ambition she’s illustrated in becoming a model and the lady Arab of the world. This wonderful episode of a female Arab-Israeli going through a tough time is a great representation of gender inequality. It should set as an example to everyone that it still exists in many countries.

  • rich

    what was the story that her father read in jail about the father and the son?

  • Yahzee

    Such a compelling documentary.How easily your dreams can be cut short in an instant.

  • Yahzee

    Genesis and the sad shortlived life of a dream.

  • Jonah

    It was a great program. I only wish she would have fought this prehistoric society to the end.

    It’s up to our political leaders around the world to presusre these backward cultures to treat women properly.

  • Nancy Hunter

    I am appalled on how these people ruined this young womans life. I have plenty of respect for the father who was on her side and showed his love for his daughter and supports her in her dream. I am appalled at a religion that dares to destroy this young womans career. No doubt she would have been chosen in Thailand as Miss Israel. I feel that when she would have won. She could have helped her family buy a home, college education for her sisters and brothers.How dare this pre-historic ancient religion ruined a teenagers life in the year 2009. How dare a Sheikh control have control over the family and other druze people in the community. This is why NO religion, culture, husband or even family will ever control me. How dare the Druze come out with their man-made Quram and try to kill this young woman, dont they know killing is a sin or is it only applied whenever it is convenient. I am disgusted at a culture that stops a young woman from fulfilling her dreams. Duah, if you get this message, dont give up your dreams and make sure, you and your father move to a country where the Druze pre-historical culture does not follow you. Best wishes.
    Nancy

  • Mickelson

    I know exactly what it feels like to be trapped and not being able to do what you would like to do. I am currently enduring the same painful situation and it’s taking a toll on me emotionally. However, at the end of the day, I remain humble for I know that the battle isn’t mine, it’s the Lord’s. Beautiful young woman must I say by the way. If in any case you get to read this Duah, know that if you have faith you cannot fail. Keep your head up.

  • Anna

    I emphatize with Duah. It’s hard to comprehend not having the freedom to chase your own dreams. Isn’t that what we all aspire for? It’s hard for me to imagine that God is as vindictive as her religious sect portrays him to be. I think this is a great example of man acting as God. Why they get away with it, I do not know. Is it an option to denounce a religion (led by men) that oppresses that much?

  • lateefa pringle

    I would think that Duah would try again next year in either contest and not let anyone outside her immediate family know what she is doing.

  • Zain

    First, I would like to present what may be a dissenting view. I believe many western viewers have mistakenly blamed the Druze religion for the community’s reaction to Duah’s participation in the pageant. And likewise perhaps the producers have already constructed the terms by which viewers will judge this story, stating at the outset how Duah is “an Arab-Israeli teenager and a member of the Druze religion,” already setting up presumably conflicting boundaries between religion and society. While I am an American, I also realize that our understanding of religion and its role in society is typically very different from other places, especially since we see “religion” and its tenets as something we can easily separate from our individual selves. In more communal societies, one’s individuality is part and parcel of the larger (ethnic) community. And religion, family and community have traditionally been indivisible in most Middle Eastern societies. Moreover, religion in and of itself is not violent (or peaceful) or “archaic”; rather, all religions as such have an equal capacity for evil or good, modernity or tradition. It all depends on the ones charged with interpreting religious belief and practice. In fact, a religion can only reflect the views of those who profess it. In this case, the Druze members acted as guardians of communal “honor,” and although their positions were validated by religious authority, they did not primarily refer to religion but to family and community. Second, Duah’s problem had much more to do with trenchant patriarchy, and her story demonstrated how the honor of an entire community is linked to the sexuality of Druze women. When we take patriarchy and male supremacy into consideration [and I am speaking as a heterosexual man] and religion as a way to validate sexism, we can easily see how women around the world face all sorts of constraints and oppression under male dominance. Moreover, if we are talking about democratic societies, for example, women in the United States were not allowed to even vote until 1920 (20th century) with the passage of the 19th Amendment and African American women couldn’t vote until the mid 1960s. Today, American women on average still earn less than men for the exact same job. And the facts of gender inequality around the world continue. Last, Lila Abu-Lughod’s classic book, Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society (University of California Press, 1999) is still instructive for understanding issues of honor in this part of the world. But, while I do have concerns about how women are exploited by the global beauty industry, I certainly join others who condemn the cowardly, senseless assassination attempt on the life of this innocent young girl! In the end, how could a killing like this be honorable? No! It is about men’s control of women bodies, minds, and souls. And like other forms of oppression, this must stop.

  • Bill

    My Wife and I watched this program last night – “Contestant No. 2”.

    We could not understand the underlying theme/goal of this program. We hope that it wasn’t only to show the obstacles that a teenager in a different part of the world has to overcome to achieve her dreams no matter what it takes and how it affects others around her?

    We both felt that Duah Fares was very self-centered and selfish. If she took a second to look at the effect of the pressure and stress of living a Druze’s life in Israel had taken on her mother and father, she might have been more understanding with them.

    Her father displayed complete commitment to her and an unending love for her to the point that he committed two crimes to try and satisfy her financial needs.

    Her mother seemed prematurely aged and haggard. She also gave Duah every thing she could.

    We would have been interested to see the effect that this situation had on her younger siblings.

    If the intent of this program was to show how barbaric, backwards, and antiquated the Druze community is (compared to the larger Israeli community), then you were extremely successful. But we do not agree and believe that is a valid goal and an unfair comparison. We firmly believe that one community, state, nation, or people does not have the right to judge or subjugate others. We feel that upon closer inspection, the opposite was achieved. The disintegration of family, community, moral and religious values will eventually bring down any civilization, even our great American society. Your final shot of her handler shedding disingenuous tears drove that point home dramatically.

    We normally enjoy your program very much. But this particular program left us confused and looking for something more.

    Being that I am almost 100% disabled, I do not have the ability to visit these locations and see the problems that the rest of the world is facing. I only know the tremendous advantages that our family enjoys in this great country. So, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that your programs provide to us.

    We are looking forward to viewing your next program on the plight of the children in the disadvantaged areas of Rio de Janeiro.

    Thank you for all your hard work and we wish all of you continued success in the future.

  • Annah

    @ZAIN – THIS. Thank you so much for your response.

  • Alison

    To Duah/Angelina: your strength is powerful and you have a beautiful family who loves you and supports you. Don’t stop trying to go after what you want.

  • nach shon

    since when are Druse Arabs? yes they speak Arabic, but used to aleast claim descent form Jethro fnl of Moses. far removed from being Arabs.

  • mark humphrey

    zzzzzzzzzzz……..yawn.whata snooze.

  • Sorry Duah

    @#22, nach shon: And your point here being…??!!!!

  • bobby

    i have all way’s said and ill say it again
    THIS WORLD WILL NEVER BE AT PEACE
    UN TILL MEN ARE AT PEACE WITH
    WOMEN

  • Lucrecia Luporini

    Contestant No. 2 has multiple layers of meaning: (1) The struggle of Duah for Western-style self-identity; (2) The conflict between the values of ‘traditional culture’ and the values of mainstream Western commoditized culture; (3) Oppositions between a male Arab-speaking Druse hierarchy, the Israeli commercial establishment, and an individual young woman caught in the middle; (4) The consequences of false consciousness that comes about as the result of ‘cultural assimilation'; (5) Contestations between tribal and family rights and responsibilities vis-a-vis individual rights and responsibilities. To name just a few juxtapositions.

    The image of a beautiful young girl entrapped by mirrors reflecting fame, prestige, and an illusory opportunity to become a Hollywood actress (like Angelina Jolie) lends itself to many different interpretations of reality. Duah appears to be a self-willed, narcisistic, self-centered individual who has become totally oblivious to the realities of contemporary global conflicts: illiteracy, hunger, homelessness, lack of medical attention, unemployment, exploitation, war, environmental degradation…and the list goes on.

    Beauty pageants, for the most part, have become a thing of the past — meaningless exercises in futility that reduce a woman to the subordinate role of sex symbol. Duah is fortunate that her kinship group stepped in with a reality check that freed her to achieve bigger and better things for herself, her family and her ethnic group. Maybe not exactly Hollywood style.

  • Ulises Uribe

    I’m really surprised by the comment NO.1 by Susanne Hudson, she got the point of this film totally wrong The film revolves around a beauty contest, but the main point it’s about life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, the most fundamental principle in the U.S. ccnstitution, and invaluable of everyone os us.
    Best wishes for Duah and her family.

  • Ani-Yun’wiya

    There are two wheels that grind the corn, the flour made, no kernel left uncrushed, all eat in delight, but who saves that one kernel so that corn may grow anew.
    Is it Duah?

  • Theo

    I hate all and every religion in the world. This girl’s dream and possible her whole life is ruined because of some stupid ideology. She did not ask to be born among these idiotic men. Her family should just leave and move to another country. I was born into a Catholic family, but when I became an adult, I made the decision not be a part of the madness any longer. I consider myself a citizen of the world, not of any religion or culture. My culture is not to belong to any culture. And my only religion is LIFE!

    Religion is the cause of all problems in the world today. These hypocrites have nothing to do but try to control other peoples social activities. All religion is obsessed not with serving their imagined gods, but with control of women’s sexual behavior. It is all about SEX, nothing more.
    The Christians preachers always commit adultery which they preach about. Some not only sleep with other people’s wives, they sleep with prostitutes. The Moslems like to sleep with prostitutes when they outside their country. They marry many wives. But they want their women to stay with one man, who of course can marry many women. They are nothing but stupid men causing problems around the world.
    Religious people are wicked human beings. They always want to save everyone but themselves. They are like a monkey that ran into the river and grabbed the fish and took it up a tree, and said; “Let me save you before you drown” . Screw religion! No child ever asked to be born into any of these idiotic beliefs. And no person should be subjected to abide to these absurd thinking. Screw religion and their myths. If they want to go to heaven, they should just kill themselves, so there will be peace and understanding on earth.

  • Canadian

    Your videos are blocked in Canada. That’s just lame.

Produced by THIRTEEN    ©2015 WNET.ORG Properties LLC. All rights reserved.