This December, the Miss Universe Competition is heading to Eilat, Israel, for its 70th-anniversary event. Hosted by the legendary Steve Harvey, the international event brings together contestants from more than 75 countries in the spirit of friendly competition. Empowered women, proud to represent their country, employ their voice on a world stage to send a message of hope, peace, and positivity.
Sadly and predictably, the anti-Israel, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is once again calling for a complete boycott of the event and targeting the contestants through harassment and intimidation. The BDS movement presents itself as a social justice movement when in reality, it is a political movement that seeks the defamation, delegitimization, and eventual elimination of the State of Israel, as stated openly by the group’s founder and leader, Omar Barghouti. This is why the BDS movement explicitly rejects the idea of peaceful coexistence.
In response to this harassment, the former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, called out the haters in a powerful message on social media. Idan was once the victim of a vicious boycott campaign, forced to leave Iraq after facing death threats merely because she took a photo with Miss Israel.
The boycott movement has now directed its focus on 24-year-old Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane. In addition to flooding her Twitter and Instagram posts with bots, trolls, and fake accounts (a strategy we analyzed in our recent report on Billie Eilish here), they are trying to shame her into pulling out of the pageant by stating that she would be complicit in the false claims of apartheid, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the murder of children if she doesn’t.
In response to the haters, the official Miss South Africa Instagram account released the following statement, confirming that Lalela will remain in the competition and not be intimidated:
Unfortunately, the pushback from Miss South Africa sent the BDS movement into an even greater fit of rage. Seeing their demands were not met, they are now targeting the sponsors and marketing agencies associated with the pageant, trying to get Lalela kicked out of the competition, and launched a petition that has garnered thousands of signatures:
They are also targeting Stephanie Weil, the CEO of Miss South Africa, framing her as a “white oppressor” who is “forcing Lalela to participate” in the competition:
It is worth noting that Stephanie is Jewish if only to point out the classic antisemitic tropes BDS activists employ when attacking her:
The BDS movement has since falsely claimed that all the sponsors of Miss Universe South Africa have withdrawn their support:
BDS activists have also been making blatantly false claims that contestants have already begun withdrawing from the pageant:
For instance, the BDS movement absurdly claimed that Miss Universe Malaysia dropped out of the competition, despite Malaysia stating clearly that it was due to COVID:
Being able to participate in the Miss Universe pageant is an opportunity that millions of women worldwide dream of. It is heartbreaking to witness those who make it this far harassed and threatened by those with nefarious aims.
Creative Community Peace stands with the Miss Universe competition and with all the contestants involved.
The BDS movement continues to grasp at straws and spread misinformation. They amplified a fraudulent post from a Greek beauty pageant hopeful that she was supposed to represent Greece at the Miss Universe pageant but was pulling out in solidarity with the boycott movement.
This was, of course, a total lie. According to officials at the Miss Universe pageant that we talked to directly, and the organizers of the contest in Greece, the Star GS Hellas Organization, Rafaela Plastira was never a contestant for Miss Universe but rather a contestant for the Miss World competition in 2019, a totally different contest.
It is unclear why Ms. Plastira lied to people. Perhaps she was dejected that she wasn’t selected for the Miss Universe contest, and to get publicity, she made these false allegations knowing the BDS movement would amplify them. Or perhaps the BDS movement is even working with her directly to try and get some sort of win.
The real Miss Greece was Katerina Kouvoutsaki, who had to pull out of the contest due to health issues with travel, and the country is now being represented by Sofia Arapogianni.
BDS activists also tried to make it seem as if Miss Barbados pulled out of the contest due to boycott pressure:
This is also a lie, and the Miss Barbados organization made it clear they were pulling out solely due to COVID, just like Malaysia and Indonesia:
The BDS movement has now set its sights on Miss Morocco, Kawthar Benhalima. This year’s contest features several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
The BDS movement is now desperately trying to save face, having clearly failed in its efforts to bully pageant contestants into withdrawing.
After calling on Miss Morocco, Kawthar Benhalima, to boycott Israel, the BDS movement once again falsely claimed that the contestant had heeded their call:
In reality, Miss Morocco was already on her way to Israel to proudly participate in the pageant: