The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) heavily criticised Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa after the government pulled out its support for the Miss South Africa pageant.
This is as a result of the government's inability to convince organisers to withdraw participation in the Miss Universe pageant which will be held in Israel in December.
"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," the institution said.
In a report on Sunday, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture revealed it would withdraw support for the Miss South Africa pageant because of the organisers' "intransigence and disregard" of recommendations that oppose sending Miss SA Lalela Mswane to participate in the Miss Universe event.
The department said atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians were well documented, and the government, as the legitimate representative of the people of South Africa, "could not in good conscience associate itself with such".
Although , this perception was a "minority one", said the SAJBD, mentioning a Newzroom Afrika poll which indicated that South Africans were approving 2:1 of her competing in Israel.
The statement is as:
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
Earlier this week, it had been reported that the number of people in South Africa calling to boycott Miss Universe had increased . This included social media posts from Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela, and Palestine civil rights organisations.
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