In Israel, Miss Universe said that the pageant has no place for politics | Job Binary

JERUSALEM (AP) – The reigning Miss World said Wednesday that the long-running beauty pageant should not be politicized, even though its next edition was held in Israel amid pressure on contestants to step down in solidarity with citizens. Palestine.

The 70th Miss Universe pageant is being held in the southern Israeli resort town of Eilat in December. Dozens of contestants from around the world will arrive there in the coming weeks to compete in national costumes, evening gowns and swimsuits. They will also have their public speaking ability tested with a series of interview questions.

But the page has come under fire in Israel amid boycott calls against the country over its treatment of Palestinians. At least one country has already canceled their participation.

“All people with different beliefs, with different races, with different cultures, they are all together and when you are there you forget about politics, about your religion,” Andrea Meza, Miss Universe who was currently, told The Associated Press ahead of a trip. of Jerusalem’s Old City, the epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It’s just about embracing other women.”

Meza, 27, represented Mexico and was crowned in June, during a COVID-19 suspension ceremony in Florida, where contestants donned their glittering gowns with masks. He was crowned in Eilat on December 12.

The show’s hosting was a blow to Israel, which for years has faced a Palestinian international campaign calling for children, retreats and sanctions. Israel hopes the page will help attract tourists and project Israel’s image as a safe destination during the pandemic.

Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, said that Israel was on the short list of host countries “because of its rich history, beautiful scenery, many cultures and love as a tourist destination global.”

But candidates are facing pressure to avoid the event and set aside hopes for the crown to make a political statement.

PACBI, a Palestinian activist group and founding member of the boycott group, called on the candidates to “not harm our struggle for freedom, justice and equality by withdrawing from the competition.”

Citing COVID, Malaysia has announced that it will not send a candidate. And the South African government said it was withdrawing support for the country’s representative over his participation in the event.

“Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians are well documented,” the government said in a statement, adding that it “cannot in good conscience engage in such.”

Both countries are strong supporters of the Palestinians.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment and requests for comment to the country’s Tourism Ministry, which hosted Meza’s visit to the Old City on Wednesday, went unanswered.

The impact of the meeting has been a mixed bag. It has seen a number of successes over the years, with major artists such as Lorde and Lana Del Ray canceling appearances due to Israeli policies. But big stars have also made stops in Israel and major events such as the Eurovision song contest – which included a performance by Madonna – have been held in the country despite high-profile boycott calls.

The Miss Universe pageant will attract contestants from Morocco and the United Arab Emirates – Arab countries that have recently normalized relations with Israel.

The boycott movement, known as BDS, promotes boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israeli companies and businesses in what it says is a relentless campaign against Israel’s abuses against Palestinians.

Israel says the campaign is an attempt to eliminate and even destroy the country, and that its motives are anti-Semitic. BDS leaders reject accusations of anti-Semitism, saying their campaign is against Israeli policies.

Meza said she doesn’t blame women who want to sit out this year’s competition but said she has no problem with the competition being held in Israel.

The Old City of Jerusalem, home to sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, is at the heart of a decades-long conflict. Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City, along with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war.

Israel then annexed East Jerusalem – a move not recognized internationally – and claimed the entire city as its capital. The Palestinians seek all three territories for a future independent state, with East Jerusalem as their capital.

Dressed in a flowing dress, complete with flat sandals, Meza wandered through the Old Town’s emptiest streets, stopping to look at shops as the media scrum followed. Shoppers, not used to seeing so many people since the start of the pandemic, stared and screamed in amazement at the attention Meza was drawing.

Meza, who is a software engineer, said she was “just a girl,” from a small town in Mexico who was not a “perfect and flawless” beauty queen. She said that she has worked hard to become Miss Universe and that the competition is not only about dressing women in bikinis but also about testing their intelligence.

Asked if he could offer a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said he did not believe in violence and that dialogue was key.

“People have to compromise and I really hope we can do this through talking and communicating,” he said.

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