No Beauty in Occupation: Malaysia and Indonesia Boycott Israeli-held Miss Universe
While Miss Malaysia and Indonesia boycott the Miss Universe 2021 event held in "Israel," Arab countries which have recently normalized with the occupation participate.
The 70th Miss Universe Pageant will be held this year in Eilat, "Israel," the southmost point of occupied Palestine, bordering Egypt and Jordan on the Red Sea - marking the first time in which the occupation hosts the event.
In response to the occupation's attempts to whitewash its crimes with a beauty contest, Miss Malaysia and Miss Indonesia have taken the decision to boycott the event by withdrawing from it.
Meanwhile, Miss UAE and Miss Morocco, the only Arab contestants who are actively participating, were granted access to the events following the normalization of relations between their governments and the occupation's in 2020.
However, as attempts to whitewash "Israel" with beauty contests and similar events are rapidly multiplying, it is becoming increasingly difficult to turn a blind eye to their appalling and ever-mounting war crimes, notably during their assault on Gaza last May which saw the murder of over 230 Palestinians, including women and children.
Israeli violence does not end here, as administrative detention by the occupation forces alone has created a crisis of human rights violations, where prisoners have reached their 110th day of hunger strike in protest of the poor and abusive prisoner conditions.
Many voices have called on the boycott of the event: Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, the grandson of former South African President Nelson Mandela, posted a statement on Instagram calling on Miss Universe pageants to "follow suit" with Malaysia and Indonesia.
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"There is nothing beautiful about occupation, brutality and institutionalized discrimination against the Palestinian people," he asserted. The statement came after 24-year-old Lalela Mswane was crowned Miss South Africa 2021 on Saturday, at the Grand Arena in Cape Town.
In addition, Mandela called on African countries to withdraw from the contest in "Israel," also in protest of the African Union's recent decision to grant "Israel" observer status, which was recently postponed.
This isn't the first time cultural events held in "Israel" experience waves of boycotts - in 2019, the Eurovision contest in "Tel Aviv" was also heavily criticized and boycotted by multiple artists.
Paula Shugart, the President of the Miss Universe Organization, told the Jerusalem Post that the beauty pageants will be embarking on a "cultural" tour, visiting historic sites in the occupied lands. The visit poses as a facade, a distraction from the abuses of the Israeli government against Palestinians.
However, with Malaysia and Indonesia taking audacious stances, the world might just witness a powerful ripple .