The South African government has said it is distancing itself from a decision by the Miss South Africa pageant organisers to participate in the annual Miss Universe contest, due to be held next month in Israel.

The government, which is the ANC, the ANC itself, the SA Communist Party, Africa4Palestine (read Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) and other virulently anti-Israel bodies have demanded that Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane boycott the Miss Universe pageant to protest, once again, against the state of Israel.

The Miss South Africa organisation, which is private, describes itself as ‘a powerful organisation, a leading voice on female empowerment and a launchpad for much-needed social change.’ Miss South Africa is owned by Sun International. 

Neither the ANC nor the government has the authority to determine Ms Mswane’s attendance at Miss Universe, but the aggression and judgmental approach by which pressure is applied by opponents of Israel usually results in the participant, who is an easy target, backing down.

Like much of the Left world-wide, the ANC’s opposition to Israel is one-sided and often baseless. The government says that ‘atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians are well documented and that the government, as the legitimate representative of the people of SA, could not in good conscience associate itself with such.’

The vehemence of the anti-Israel lobby conceals the fact that the ‘well-documented’ accusations are seldom true. The vitriolic and propagandistic nature of the allegations suggests that  those behind them know that they are not true.   

The government, however, still has diplomatic relations with Israel and, despite its animus, favours a two-state solution to the conflict. There is an inconsistency in this solution: the government is at odds with its allies Fatah, Hamas, BDS and all the Islamist groups ranged against Israel. The latter groups believe in a one-state solution and the eradication of the Jewish state. 

The government’s knowledge of the history of the region and the founding of Israel is likely very poor. For the government to play a constructive role between the two sides it needs to understands both sides.

The government is also an outlier, shown by the greater recognition given to Israel by the African Union, which has granted Israel observer status. The ‘Abraham Accords’ also see a pragmatic recognition of Israel and a more realistic view of the Palestinians taking more responsibility for resolution of the conflict.

The irony of the ANC’s position is that it is likely to be a minority view among the majority of South Africans. So, once again, it is going against the beliefs of the people it purports to govern.