PRETORIA – The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) has congratulated Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane on being crowned second runner-up at the Miss Universe pageant held in Eilat, Israel, on Monday morning.
Lalela was crowned second runner-up, with Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu taking the crown, and Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira the first runner-up.
“Numerous polls and studies showed that millions of South Africans stood proudly behind Miss South Africa’s attendance of the competition in Israel, while a few noisy haters of the Jewish state tried to block her from seeing Israel for herself,” said Rowan Polovin, national chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation.
“She ultimately revealed what the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement) was so panicked about her seeing and speaking publicly about: that Israel is a friendly, normal and democratic nation. She stated during her visit that she ‘always thought South Africa has the friendliest people on Earth, but it might be rivalled by Israelʼ.”
Lalela wore an outfit titled the “Dove Of Peace” at the costume show of the Miss Universe pageant to represent and call for peace among nations.
“It was fitting that this occurred during the weekend, when Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett went on the first official visit of an Israeli premier to the United Arab Emirates. The Abraham Accords has brought Israel and the Arab world warmly together, with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco having signed normalisation agreements with Israel over the past year,” said Polovin.
The SAZF said it is only South Africa that remains “light years away” from understanding and participating in the shifting changes in the Middle East.
“The South African government’s singular obsession with Israel, which resulted in an embarrassing and shameful attempt by our government to block Miss SA’s participation in this beautiful event, prevents our country from being taken seriously in foreign affairs or playing any meaningful role in bringing the Palestinians away from enmity and towards peace,” said Polovin.
Meanwhile, Citizens for Integrity on Monday called on Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to apologise to Lalela after she made the top three at the 70th Miss Universe pageant, without the government’s support.
“Mr Minister, Lalela’s reputation and standing are far more advanced now than they could ever have been, had the bullying and attempts to force her to withdraw from the Miss Universe pageant been successful. You offered her nothing but threats in South Africa. You would have left her with nothing, except a lack of dignity,” said Mark Hyman and Willie Hofmeyr, directors for Citizens for Integrity.
“Your threats that it could prove disastrous to her future and public standing seem a little hollow. Will you greet her on her triumphant return to South Africa? The world is her oyster and millions of South Africans celebrate with her. As the Israelis say, ‘mazal tov!’ As South Africans say, ‘siyakubongela’.”
Last month, on behalf of the South African government, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture announced the withdrawal of its support for the Miss SA pageant, after unsuccessful talks with the Miss SA pageant organisers.