Cape Town (QNN)- Palestine Solidarity Alliance youth league (PSAYL) and Africa For Palestine on Friday held a vigil to urge Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, to boycott the upcoming Israeli-hosted Miss Universe pageant, saying “Apartheid Israel does not deserve to see your beauty.”
On Friday, representatives from the youth league of PSA and Africa4Palestine held a protest at Nine Squared Communications building in Rivonia, Johannesburg.
Nine Squared Communications is co-owned by Miss SA chief executive officer (CEO) Stephanie Weils and controls the rights to the Miss SA trademark.
The protesters urged the Miss SA to withdraw from the 70th Miss Universe pageant as it will be held this December in Eilat, an Israeli-occupied Palestinian city.
The protesters were holding banners reading: “No Beauty From Illegal Duty,” “Miss SA Supports Zionism? Miss Me With That,” and “Apartheid Israel does not deserve to see your beauty.”
Palestine Solidarity Alliance in South Africa held a vigil today calling Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane to withdraw from the upcoming Israeli hosted Miss Universe pageant which will be held in 'Eilat', a city built on the ruins of displaced Palestine.#BoycottMissUniverse pic.twitter.com/5Pp6Lo1Qv9
— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) November 14, 2021
“We are saying to Stephanie that we are not clowns; we are not going to let that brand go and misrepresent us,” said Africa4Palestine board member Bram Hanekom.
He said their calls were not directed at Mswane, “a young, attractive woman from Kwazulu-Natal”. Instead they are intended for Weils.
Hanekom added, “Miss Stephanie is the Miss SA we are talking to. Our country has downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel. We do not have an ambassador there. How can we allow a privately owned trademark to go and misrepresent and embarrass our nation?”
“That trademark becomes redundant the moment they proceed with this. That organisation does not represent us and if they fail to make the correct decisions they are falling on the sword,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zaharah Msomi said that they as the Palestine Solidarity Alliance Youth League were appealing to Mswane’s conscience.
“I do not think anyone is trying to strong-arm her from participation. We are trying to say that if she partakes in the pageant it would be an active participation in enabling Israeli occupation in Palestinian territory. We do not want her to be complicit in crimes against humanity,” said Msomi.
Another demonstrator, Muhamed Summad, said they are calling for Mswane to not compete on stolen land.
“Israel is an apartheid regime, if you are not a Zionist supporter you get kicked out. We are not imposing on her a choice; if she wants to she can go,” said Summad.
The Palestine Solidarity Alliance Youth League said they had handed a memorandum to Miss SA organizers in Johannesburg detailing their demands.
As the youth, we have always been vocul in situations of injustice. The youth used their voices to speak out and fight against Apartheid South Africa,” they said in the memorandum of demands.
They added, “Similarly, as a young woman, Lalela Mswune should avail the opportunity to use her voice and the spotlight afforded to her due to her title, to speak out aguinst the injustices being meted out against the Palestinians. She represents the women and the people of South Africa.”
“This opportunity to represent should not be taken lightly and should be used to further the hurnan rights of the Palestiniun peuple.”
They said their demands: “There is no beauty in Apartheid.”
“Miss South Africa Lulela Mswane withdraws from the Miss Universe pageunt.”
“The Miss South Africa orgunisation boycotts the Miss Universe pageant.”
The Miss South Africa organization does not send a South African representative to the
Miss Universe pageunt.”
“The Miss South Africa organisation joins us in the call for the global boycott of the Miss
Lately, Miss SA has also been facing criticism by anti-apartheid activists and organizations over her announcement that she will take part in the Miss Universe Pageant.
The criticism largely comes from South Africa’s history with apartheid and colonialism, which is very similar to Palestine’s history and current situation. It also comes following Human Rights Watch’s coining of ‘Israel’ as an apartheid state.
Eilat, where the event will take place, was built in 1952 on the Palestinian southernmost city of Umm al-Rashrash.
In March 1949, Ben Gurion, Israeli Prime Minister at the time, instructed the Israeli occupation forces to make it a fact that ‘Israel’ is the rightful owner of the Negev (and of course, Umm Rash-Rash, which is situated in the Negev’s most northern spot).
The IOF started “Operation Uvda” (in Hebrew, “Uvda” means “Fact”), led by then-Israeli Foreign Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, started their way down to conquer Umm Rash-Rash, destroyed the citizens’ houses and raised the Israeli flag before the city’s police station.
So, the advocates have slammed the Miss Universe Organization for the announcement, saying such events are used to divert attention from Israel’s many human rights abuses against Palestinians.
Israel’s decades-old regime of military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid desperately needs such propaganda festivals and events to art-wash its egregious crimes against the Palestinian people.
The advocates have said that Israel exploits such festivals to project itself as a melting pot of cultures, religions and social backgrounds, rather than as an apartheid and colonial regime that has more than 65 racist laws discriminating against its indigenous Palestinian citizens.
Many voices have called for the boycott of the event: Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, the grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela, posted a statement calling on Miss Universe pageants to “follow suit” with Malaysia and Indonesia, who have taken the decision to boycott the event by withdrawing from it.
“There is nothing beautiful about occupation, brutality and institutionalized discrimination against the Palestinian people,” he asserted.
In addition, Mandela called on African countries to withdraw from the contest in “Israel,” also in protest of the African Union’s recent decision to grant “Israel” observer status, which was recently postponed.