NewsApartheid allegations: Political scandal over "Miss Universe" beauty contest

Apartheid allegations: Political scandal over "Miss Universe" beauty contest

For the 70th time, “Miss Universe” will be chosen on Sunday (December 12th, 2021) – and this time it is not only in the international focus because of feminist criticism.

Eilat – On the fringes of the “Miss Universe” election in the city of Eilat in southern Israel, a political dispute has been raging for weeks over the organizer of the already socially controversial beauty pageant. While the aim of the event is to choose the supposedly most beautiful woman in the world, some participating countries openly criticize Israel’s Palestine policy.

Particularly sensitive is the event participation of Miss South Africa, Lelela Mswane, who was chosen in 2021 and has been openly called on by the government of her home country to boycott the event in Israel. Nathi Mthethwa, South African Minister for Sports, Arts and Culture, had asked the 24-year-old model not to travel to the contest, as reported by the television station CNN. The country accuses Israel of an apartheid policy towards its Palestinian citizens on the basis of the Middle East conflict.

“Miss Universe” election in Israel: Politicians and people in South Africa called for a boycott

A boycott of the event could be “more useful nationally and internationally than a one-off event that could have disastrous consequences for her future and her reputation as a young black woman”, quoted the US broadcaster CNN Mthethwa. In November, numerous people protested outside Miss South Africa’s office calling for a boycott.

In consultation with the organizers of the Miss South Africa beauty contest, Mswane decided against a boycott: “If I hadn’t come to Israel to take part in the Miss Universe election, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” she said on Thursday (December 9th, 2021) by the Jerusalem Post. Some people have sent her “through hell and back” for this decision, but she remains optimistic.

Israel accuses South Africa of anti-Semitism because of its position in the “Miss Universe” election

In some quarters, South Africa’s criticism of Israel’s policy is interpreted as anti-Semitism. For example, the South African “Jewish Board of Deputies”, an association of Jews in South Africa, criticized the country’s decision not to support its participant as a wasted “opportunity to work constructively for peace in Israel”, as reported by the Jüdische Allgemeine.

The participation of participants from Bahrain and Morocco is also politically explosive. Both states were among the Arab countries that normalized their relationship with Israel at the end of 2020, mediated by the US government of the elected US President Donald Trump.

“Miss Universe” election in Israel: The competition was previously owned by Donald Trump

Was it possible to mediate participation in the competition in this context? Between 1996 and 2015, Trump, who was elected President of the USA in 2016, was the owner of the event for the election of the “Miss Universe” and as such repeatedly caused scandals, as he is said to have burst into locker rooms several times or publicly joked in interviews about sexual relations with female candidates .

“It’s about us as people, as strong women,” said Miss Israel, Noa Cochva, who took part in the run-up to the events, and emphasized that the “Miss Universe” elections shouldn’t be about politics. Which probably means that in the coming years the social criticism of the event could again express itself louder than the political. (Sandra Kathe)

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