I had to visit Israel, says Miss South Africa
“If I had not come to Israel to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, I think I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” said Lalela Mswane, who won the Miss South Africa pageant and then defied the South African government, which pressured her to boycott the contest, because it is being held in Israel.
South Africa has downgraded its diplomatic relations with Israel in recent years and withdrawn its ambassador. South African politicians released statements calling on Mswane to boycott, describing Israel as an “apartheid regime” and questioning how any South African could choose to participate in an event held in the country. The government withdrew its support, although the national pageant continued to back her.
Political leaders in South African continued to push her to drop out. Taking part in the contest could “prove disastrous to her (Mswane’s) future and public standing as a young, black woman,” Arts Minister Nathi Mthethwa said.
She is certain that she made the correct choice to use the platform given by the pageant’s publicity “to shed a light on the issue of women’s rights.”