South African model and businesswoman Shashi Naidoo has been denied entry into Palestine, BDS South Africa has confirmed. Naidoo was meant to go on her own fact finding mission to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, after a backlash on social media over her comments on Gaza.
BDS South Africa said on Wednesday she was blocked on the orders of Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and the recommendation of Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. The Israeli embassy also accused BDS in South Africa of wanting to harm the country.
“Israel is yet again exposing its lie that it is open to “objective” visitors. Israel only allows its own praise-singers. This is a clear indication of Israel’s refusal to allow freedom of movement, expression and association,” said BDS in a statement.
Naidoo made a decision to “re-educate” herself on the Palestinian issue after she received fierce criticism for a lengthy Instagram post in support of Israeli action in Gaza. At one point in the thread, she described Gaza as a ‘sh*thole’, raising the ire of many onliners,
Following a barrage of criticism on social media and alleged death threats, she issued a teary eyed video apology on Sunday, saying she did not mean to offend the Muslim community. This was later followed by a written post which further incensed many Muslim pro-Palestinian supporters, who called out Naidoo for making the Palestinian issue a religious matter, when it is a humanitarian issue.
Naidoo then reached out to BDS South Africa who assisted her in speaking to the media and also arranging this particular trip to the Palestinian occupied territories.
Naidoo joins a growing list of South Africans who have been denied passage to Palestine including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Minister Blade Nzimande, World Council of Churches leader Isabel Phiri and many others South African citizens. Israel has also denied access to Jews who are critical of the Zionist state, among them Rabbi Alisa Wise of Jewish Voices for Peace.
“This repressive behaviour is how Israel treats Palestinians who are subjected to similar but worse forms of restriction and denial of many other freedoms, similar to the way we South Africans once were treated by the Apartheid regime,” BDS continued.
Concerns have been raised on how this will impact the diplomatic relations between Israel and South Africa. BDS believes the decision to block Naidoo is a further indication of the need for South Africa to implement the ANC’s resolution for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy as Israel.
“There can be no doubt that Israel is a hostile state to South Africa. Embarrassingly South Africa has never blocked entry to even the most right wing, extremist Israeli and shows the urgent need for South Africa to protect its dignity, sovereignty and put an end to the farce of diplomatic relations. This is also a complete violation of the sovereignty of Palestine, evidence of attempts to hide their oppression and an insult to us by denying the right of South Africans to travel.” VOC