‘Palestine on My Mind’: Miss Greece Boycotts Pageant in Israel, Accused of Antisemitism
“Palestine, you are not only in my mind every day, but you have the most beautiful place in my heart forever,” Rafaela Plastira declared.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
Greece’s Miss Universe contestant Rafaela Plastira is facing accusations of anti-Semitism and “hating Israel” after she announced she was boycotting the Miss Universe beauty pageant that will be held for the first time in its history in Israel in the southern city of Eilat.
Plastira announced on Instagram that she “cannot go up to this stage and pretend that nothing happens when people are fighting for their lives out there.”
“It hurts me because I waited many years to make my dream come true. I love all the countries of the world, but my heart is with the people who are fighting for their lives in Israel and Palestine,” she added.
“Palestine, you are not only in my mind every day, but you have the most beautiful place in my heart forever,” Plastira declared, adding that “my guardian angels are there when needed. I will always keep praying for all of you!”
Greek contestant Rafaela Plastira re-stated her position not visit the occupying state & join the Miss Universe competition. pic.twitter.com/pyLAn5ENHW
— Friends of Palestine (@PalFriends2020) November 24, 2021
Racheli Bartz Ricks, head of the Antisemitism Department at the World Zionist Organization, stated Thursday that “the BDS movement is anti-Semitic in every way. Supporters of the boycott hate the very existence of the State of Israel and it’s being the state of the Jews, and not one competition or another.”
She further pointed out that antisemitism in Nazi Germany “began with boycotting and spreading anti-Semitic messages in the world of culture, and from there in a direct transition to violence and mass extermination.”
“This is modern antisemitism and we must continue to fight it with all the power and all the tools at our disposal,” she declared.
Reigning Miss Universe Andrea Meza of Mexico called on the contestants to separate politics from the beauty pageant.
“Everyone with different beliefs, with different backgrounds, with different cultures, they all come together and when you are in there, you forget about politics, about your religion,” Meza told The Associated Press.
Sofia Arapogianni is being sent to the pageant instead of Plastira.
Delegations from about 100 countries are expected to attend the pageant in Israel slated for December 12, including more than 1,200 members of official delegations, hundreds of journalists and TV crews, thousands of pageant enthusiasts and tourists, and more than 100 American celebrities, including top-tier artists and world-famous judges.
Global exposure to the Miss Universe pageant is estimated at about 1.3 billion people, who follow the pageant in broadcast, print and social media.
“The very existence of the pageant in Israel will increase positive global exposure to Israel and brand Eilat and the State of Israel as destinations capable of hosting high-level international events, as has been the case with Eurovision and Giro d’Italia,” Israel’s Tourism Ministry stated.
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