It was courageous of the Miss South Africa Organisation to stand firm to have Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, represent the country at the Miss Universe competition, to be held this year in the picturesque Israeli resort town of Eilat, on 13th December. This takes place as critics are pushing for Miss SA to boycott this prestigious event.
The Miss SA Organisation refused to be intimidated by the noise made by Israel critics, some of whom haven’t even been in what I experienced as a beautiful country with kindhearted people.
Miss SA Spokesperson Janine Greenleaf Walker reassured South Africans that Lalela Mswane will take part in the Miss Universe pageant. Walker was responding to criticisms from the likes of Mandla Mandela and some small organisations accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.
“The Miss South Africa Organisation is not getting involved in a political war of words and looks forward to watching Miss SA make the country proud on an international stage,” Walker said.
The Daily Sun deputy editor penned a rather disappointing column in which he accused Israel of being an apartheid state without adequately backing up such a horrific accusation. He further goes on to allege that Miss SA does not allow Lalela Mswane to speak for herself.
Besides the above mentioned article from the Israel naysayer, we have heard from the likes of Mandla Mandela, Africa4Palestine, and other small organisations whose influence cannot be felt. Why would small organisations and less influential individuals want to advance their spurious political interests at the expense of Israel?
It is true that artists refused to perform in apartheid South Africa and that battles were fought by protesters on sports fields when South Africa played overseas in violation of the boycott. The press wrote about it and the plight of South Africans fighting for their country and freedom was brought to the attention of the globe. What is utter nonsense is the baseless accusation that Israel is an apartheid state.
As I have mentioned before, I find it difficult to entertain assertions from Israel’s critics about “Apartheid Israel” because I have visited the country myself. Having been there, I can attest to the fact that Jews, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians co-exist together. As a black person, I was not made to feel like an outsider and I saw that other Africans (largely from Ethiopia) were being treated as equals. I honestly did not see any evidence of Apartheid.
What there is, however, and what is not possible to dismiss, is the fact that there is an occupation taking place by Israelis of Palestinian territories. That is being condemned by many countries, including many Israelis, and the USA is among those trying to bring about a negotiated peace between the two sides.
The central question is, then, whether Miss Universe 2021 should be held in Israel or not. Israel’s critics make no substantive argument or case as to why it shouldn’t be, other than because they would like to see Israel being isolated or exterminated, literally.
Rather than boycott the event, it would be better for Israel’s critics to mobilize the participants of Miss Universe 2021 to preach peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, instead of spreading hatred and division in the world, something which we do not need.
In a video posted by former Miss Iraq Sarah Abdali Idan, Mandla Mandela, who is the Chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council, is called out for his divisive stance. “All I can say is: How dare you? How dare you, as a man, try to tell an organisation for women and women empowerment what to do?”
“This is an opportunity that millions of women dream of having. To go on the world stage and represent their people, their nation, their culture. Not government, not politics, and definitely not your political agenda,” Abdali Idan added.
The former Miss Iraq also congratulated 24-year-old Lalela Mswane for being crowned Miss South Africa 2021, “I hope that you will enjoy your trip. And learn not only about Israel but about all these beautiful other countries. This is what the Miss Universe is about. And I hope to see you there,” concluded Abdali Idan.
For many young, talented, and beautiful women, these types of competitions provide them with opportunities to shine on an international stage and make their families and the countries they represent proud, yet Mandla is asking them to postpone or give up their dreams because of his own, narrow political agenda. For whatever reason he wishes to punish Israel, he certainly shouldn’t be doing it at the expense of the ambitions of these young women.
Irrespective of their nationalities, women face the same struggles, and they need to unite beyond the borders of their countries. Miss Universe is a great platform to do this. The women and the organisations they represent, should not be instructed by the likes of Mandla Mandela, as to what they can and cannot do.
There are some South Africa politicians who are joining the chorus or bandwagon of “Apartheid Israel”, and by doing that they hope to get some of the limelight and some sort of support for being “progressive”.
Most of the people who are claiming to hate Israel have never been to that region. Being inside the newsroom taught me that people do not really invest much in finding truths for themselves, but rather take what is reported as it is even in the midst of fake news like this.