Our Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture has been noticeably absent these past eighteen months. He has been largely silent about artists who appealed to him for help during the COVID lockdown. His response to the closing down of national heritage treasures like the Apartheid Museum and Lilliesleaf Farm was appalling. His disinterest in upholding the real issues facing our arts and cultural imperatives have been palpable. Yet when it comes to placating the radical anti-Israel lobby who demand that Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane withdraw from the Miss Universe Pageant in Eilat, suddenly Minister Mthetwa finds his voice.
It is quite clear that Minister Mthethwa's view is a minority one. A poll conducted by Newzroom Afrika on Thursday night as to whether Miss SA should withdraw from the Miss Universe event in Israel showed a plurality of nearly 2:1 in favour of her competing. The PSA protest attracted a bare handful of activists. This is despite the barrage of intimidation by groups such as Africa4Palestine and SA BDS in the media have resulted in comments calling for them to stop bullying Lalela and for her to participate in the event
South Africa has diplomatic ties and extensive commercial trade relations with Israel. It engages in events such as this one, such as hosting the Israeli Davis Cup team in 2018. The way we influence situations is to engage, not to withdraw. The SAJBD believes that closing doors merely isolates us from contributing and any contribution we can make to finding peace in this country. What better opportunity for a South African to be part of an event where she can connect with 70 countries around the world, including many Arab countries, in sharing our story of dialogue and peace-building?