Sunday November 14, 2021

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] calls on Miss South Africa and the Miss South Africa organisation to withdraw their participation in the upcoming Miss Universe pageant set to take place in apartheid Israel this December.

Cultural events such as Miss Universe pageant serve as an exercise to whitewash Israel’s occupation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights. Participation in such cultural events are part of efforts to normalise a system characterised by flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights and international law. Therefore, cultural organizations and events should be viewed as part of a wider ideological and institutional support for Israel’s project of settler colonialism and apartheid system against an indigenous Palestinian population.

The apartheid state of Israel is relentless in its violations of Palestinian human rights, this has been evidenced many times and recently through the COVID-19 pandemic. Israel has for some time practised medical apartheid against the Palestinian people, it went a step further to weaponize a global pandemic against a population already severely affected by a brutal illegal military occupation.

With continuous worldwide efforts by different organizations such as the World Health Organizations to guarantee equal distribution of the COVID-19 vaccinations, Palestinians found themselves in a far worse situation, having endured Israeli apartheid in various forms, the most recent being vaccine apartheid.

While the Israeli COVID19 vaccination programme was celebrated as being successful thus far with almost half of its population reported to have received the vaccine by March, the same could not have been said for Palestinians. Israel engaged in a form of medical apartheid, by declining to provide vaccines to Palestinians living under its military occupation. The provision of medical supplies falls within its ambit as an occupying power under international law.

The Israeli occupation essentially implies that Israel controls all elements of Palestinian life, including the movement of people and products, as well as healthcare. Permission from Israeli authorities is necessary for resources, such as vaccinations and other medical supplies, to enter the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Aside with COVID-19, there are additional instances of medical apartheid.

Israel has in the past practised medical apartheid like refusing Palestinian hospitals from accessing essential medical resources such as radiation equipment for cancer treatment.

NEHAWU recognises, respects and supports the call by The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) that calls on the international community to respect the cultural boycott and not cross the picket line. Those endorsing and participating in cultural events in Israel are therefore complicit in Israel violations of Palestinian human rights.

The city of Eilat ,where the Miss Universe Pageant is set to take place, is an illegal Israeli settlement built on the ruins of a Palestinian village whose population was ethnically cleansed during the 1948 Nakba.

The call to Miss SA to withdraw her participation in the pageant is both morally and legally justified. The struggle against apartheid in South Africa received support from the international community through similar boycott campaigns that today Palestinians are today asking for.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU Acting National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: