South African Friends of Israel have called on South Africans to express support for Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, who has been at the receiving end of hateful online attacks orchestrated by anti-Israel activists who don’t want her to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Israel next month.
In a tweet responding to fake news reports this week that Lalela had bowed to pressure to pull out of the pageant, SAFI said the false reports were based on “a lie spread on Instagram by a Palestinian organisation” and that “Miss SA is being cyberbullied by people on Twitter who don’t even represent most of the country”.
“Once again BDS is lying, and no countries are boycotting Miss Universe. Even those who have pulled out are not attending due to Covid-19 restrictions,” says SAFI in a tweet.
In another tweet it suggests some ways to support Lalela at this time — by tweeting @Lalela_lali to support her, by leaving a comment on her IG to welcome her to #Israel @lalela_mswane or by retweeting.
Pro-Israel Christian organisations in SA are helping to share the call by SAFI to stand with the 24-year-old model, dancer and law graduate who has been targeted by activists since shortly before her crowning as Miss SA on October 16.
Among the first to call on Lalela to snub the pageant was Mandla Mandela, grandson of the late former president, Nelson Mandela. He claimed Israel is an apartheid state that oppresses Palestinians and commits crimes against humanity.
Mandla was promptly rebuked by former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, who slammed his efforts to rob Lalela of her dream and challenged his charge that Israel is an apartheid state.
And while anti-Israel groups in SA are mobilising mounting pressure on Miss SA to boycott the pageant in Eliat, Israel on December 12, nearly 70 nations will be represented at the Miss Universe event. For the first time, there will also be participants from the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Lebanon, and many African countries.
Miss South Africa Organisation CEO Stephanie Weil said in a media statement yesterday they are delighted to be able to make Lalela’s childhood dream come true to wear the crown while representing her country.
She said Lalela has spoken openly of being bullied as a child and she would not be bullied as an adult against fulfilling her ambition.
“Anyone who wants to rob Lalela of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted. She is the shining beacon for young women everywhere, showing them that being beautiful while being clever and educated is very possible,” she said.
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