Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Sarah Idan, who represented Iraq at the “Miss Universe 2017” pageant, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, Dec. 8, 2021.

By Bradley Martin

First, she represented Iraq in the “Miss Universe” competition. Then she fled her country after posing for a selfie in 2017 with “Miss Israel.” Now, Sarah Idan is running for California’s 30th congressional district—the seat that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is vacating as he vies to replace the retiring Dianne Feinstein in the Senate.


“I’m running because this is a critical time in U.S. history when our democracy is fundamentally at stake,” the Baghdad native, 33, told JNS. “I’ve always been passionate about human rights and making this world a better place.”

At age 18 and a strong English speaker, Idan served as a volunteer translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq. She said that she moved back and forth from Iraq to the United States from 2009 to 2017. She became a U.S. citizen in 2015.

Idan was “Miss Iraq USA” in 2016 (for the Iraqi community inside America). Then in 2017, she went to win the “Miss Iraq” competition (held in Baghdad). That led her to represent Iraq in the “Miss Universe” competition.

A secular Muslim, she reportedly received death threats both for posing in a bikini and being photographed with “Miss Israel,” Adar Gandelsman.

Her Iraqi citizenship revoked, Idan told JNS that she immigrated to the United States in 2017.

A UN Watch “ambassador for peace,” she promotes peace with Israel.

Idan filed on May 19 to run for the California seat as a Democrat, she told JNS.

“Like most Americans, I’ve been directly affected by bad policies voted on in our Congress,” she said. “I believe we need new faces of representatives—candidates who aren’t self-serving, candidates who didn’t hold power positions for years and contributed nothing except for pushing the agendas of the highest bidders in Washington, D.C.”

Idan plans to provide a unique perspective in Congress as a Muslim immigrant woman and a human-rights activist.

“I hope my voice as an ethical activist, as a minority, as a non-corrupt politician and as a working-class, first-generation immigrant will have the impact we long for,” she said. “My expertise on both domestic and foreign policies may help shed a new light on how to solve the problems we currently have.”

Idan’s campaign website, under “U.S.-Israel relationship,” states that she is “a proud, staunch Zionist” who believes in Israel’s right to exist and defend itself from terrorist attacks.

“I support U.S.-Israel military cooperation and will vote ‘yes’ on any measure to fund the Iron Dome,” per the site. “I oppose any efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel, whether on the international stage or on our own college campuses.”

Ben Savage, the actor who starred in “Boy Meets World,” is among several others vying for the seat. By March 30, he had raised a little more than $100,000, including a $77,000 loan, according to his FEC report.

Other candidates include former Los Angeles city attorney Mike Feuer (more than $657,000 raised by March 30), state senator Anthony Portantino (more than $610,000), Los Angeles Board of Education member Nick Melvoin (more than $560,000) and state assemblywoman Laura Friedman (more than $336,000).

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