South African model Shashi Naidoo is in the centre of a tug-of-war between two organisations on opposing sides of the Palestine-Israel debate.
After a series of tweets which landed her in hot water for appearing to support the subjugation of Palestinians by Israeli forces, Naidoo gave an emotional public apology yesterday at a press conference organised by pro-Palestinian human rights group, BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) took exception to this, calling BDS and other critics of her statements bullies.
In a sarcastic press statement yesterday, the SAJBD effectively accused BDS of using Naidoo as a public relations tool.
“It took less than 48 hours for the BDS to do a complete turnaround,” the statement reads. “On Sunday, Ms Naidoo was the devil incarnate, the target of multiple death threats for having dared to tweet comments supportive of Israel.
“Now, having apologised for her ‘heresy’, she is suddenly a celebrity. Indeed, the intention now is to set her up as a poster girl for the BDS movement. Shashi Naidoo, a local television personality, took to social media over the weekend to express the true facts about the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”
The board added that the event was a “hollow victory” for those who resorted to threats, insults and intimidation to silence people who expressed views in support of Israel.
“What motivates them is naked hatred for Israel and a desire to bully other South Africans into going along with their radical agenda. Naidoo is the latest victim of this bigoted vendetta. Unless ordinary South Africans take a stand and declare ‘enough!’ she will not be the last.”
But BDS national coordinator Muhammed Desai said nothing could be further from the truth.
“If you saw the press conference, she was very sincere, she was not being bullied.”
He added that Naidoo had approached BDS after mass criticism on social media.
“She reached out to us and what we encountered was a wonderful person who recognised her mistake and wanted to make good. I think it’s very cheap to claim we are using her … It was after the SA public challenged her views, which she even said warranted criticism, that she reached out to us. We don’t see her as our poster girl.”
Naidoo announced yesterday she would be going on a fact-finding visit to Palestine after referring to Gaza as a “sh*thole”.
She admitted she “stupidly copied and pasted” the response from a friend to appear “smart” on social media. The visit would be to “educate and re-educate” herself on the conflict.