South African Beauty Queen Defies Bullying, Heads to Miss Universe in Israel

Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, will take part in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel despite attacks by anti-Israel activists calling on the beauty queen to boycott the event.
Miss South Africa

Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, will take part in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel despite attacks by anti-Israel activists calling on the beauty queen to boycott the event.

Africa4Palestine, a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)-aligned group that touts itself as a human rights group, incorrectly announced this week that Mswane had withdrawn from the pageant, the South African Jewish Report said.

Mswane’s agent, Stephanie Weil, said the 24-year-old would be attending the contest “contrary to any indication otherwise.”

Africa4Palestine responded by threatening to “embark on a vigilant campaign including protest action” against the 24-year-old.

Weil said this week that after consultation, Mswane had chosen to represent her country on the Miss Universe stage next month in Eilat.

The report cited the South African Jewish Board of Deputies as accusing the BDS movement of bullying, intimidation and lying.

“Preventing her from participating in Miss Universe will make no contribution to attaining resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only denying this young woman the opportunity to compete on the international stage,” the group said.

“Once again, BDS is intimidating South Africans to comply with its political demands. It returns to its modus operandi of bullying and intimidation, and when that’s not successful, it resorts to lies and deceit. When its fraudulent claim that Miss SA had withdrawn from the pageant was exposed, it added to the lie by saying that there had been a ‘U-turn’.

“Our community has been the target of BDS intimidation, bullying, and lies for many years and it’s regrettable that Lalela has become its latest scapegoat. We wish Miss Mswane success in her pageant.”

The report also quoted the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), which said it was “appalled at the tactics of peddling fake news generated by various BDS lobby groups”.

“This form of cyberbullying and the targeting of Miss SA, Lalela Mswane, is a new low and shouldn’t be tolerated. Both Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela and the director of the BDS organisation driving this campaign have themselves been accused of assaulting women and are further undermining South African women with their actions,” Benji Shulman, the director of public policy at the SAZF told the newsite.

“It’s clear that BDS activists are simply scared that by going to Israel, she will expose South Africans to Israel’s democratic, diverse, and vibrant society. Furthermore, no other countries are boycotting Miss Universe, and those that aren’t attending are doing so due to COVID-19 restrictions. On the contrary, there will be participants from the UAE, Morocco and Lebanon, and many African countries, some for the first time.”

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