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    Shashi Naidoo

    South African BDS Movement 'Poster Girl' Banned From Israel

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    South African soap opera star Shashi Naidoo has gone from defending the Jewish state and slamming Gaza under Hamas as “sh**hole of immense proportions,” to cooperating with the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. She was turned away at the border on her way to the Palestinian territories for an "educational" trip.

    Model and TV star Shashi Naidoo has headed back home to South Africa after Israel denied her entry to the country and passage to the Palestinian territories. Her trip was reportedly organized by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for the blockade of the Jewish State and settlements for its Palestinian policy.

    READ MORE:BDS Is 'Direct Security Threat That Could End Up Boomeranging' — Analyst

    The South African intended to get to Israel from Jordan, during what she earlier described as “a fact-finding visit to Palestine,” but got an advance notice last week that she wouldn’t be allowed to cross the border.

    According to the woman, cited by the South African Jewish Report, hers “was never a BDS itinerary” and she only hoped “to meet the people, experience the land and give aid to those in need.”

    The “travel ban” was slapped on Naidoo by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Interior Minister Aryeh Dery in accordance with a law which was introduced last year. It denies entry visas or residency permits to foreigners who call for different kind of boycotts against Israel.

    “The boycott organizations opposing Israel have reached the stage where they are threatening people in order to get them to act against Israel. This is a particularly terrible case, and as a result I have decided to use my authority in order to prevent her entrance to Israel,” the Interior Minister said, commenting on the decision.

    However, Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan stated in his post that she planned to visit Israel "under threats and pressure from hate-filled BDS groups."

    'Sh**hole of Immense Proportions'

    Naidoo decided to travel to the Palestinian territories after she faced a massive backlash in June for her Instagram comments on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Initially, she defended Israel as an “antithesis of an apartheid state” and described Gaza as “a sh**hole of immense proportions” because of the “terrorist organization” Hamas, which serves as the de facto government.

    ​For her statements, she faced criticism, death and rape threats, while several brands stopped working with her. Following the uproar, she apologized on social media and at a special press conference.

    ​Then she claimed that she copied the words from that post from a friend of hers, saying "I've been very disappointed in myself for not knowing and being fully aware of what was happening in Gaza."

    She told the media about contacting the BDS group but stated that this “in no way does this mean I am radicalizing myself to one side or the other.”

    'BDS Poster Girl' or Victim in Diplomatic Row?

    Commenting on Israeli decision to block the woman, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and South African Zionist Federation in their recent statement lambasted the BDS for this “complete turn-around” over the model, who was first shamed for defending Israel. They point out that the BDS intends “to set her up as a poster girl for the BDS movement.”

    BDS South Africa's spokesperson Kwara Kekana slammed the Israeli decision to block Naidoo from the country, according to the local outlet Independent Media (IOL).

    "This repressive behavior is how Israel treats Palestinians who are subjected to similar but worse forms of restriction and denial of many other freedoms, similar to the way we South Africans once were treated by the Apartheid regime. This is a clear indication of Israel's refusal to allow freedom of movement, expression and association," she told the media, claiming that Tel-Aviv infringes the diplomatic relations with Johannesburg after the latter decided to recall its ambassador following the violence at the Gaza borders, where over a hundred people were killed in clashes by the Israeli army forces.

    She stressed that Naidoo has become another name on the long list of South Africans as well as Jews who are critical of Israel and have been banned from the country.

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    Tags:
    visa, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, diplomatic row, Israeli-Palestinian conflict, travel ban, Instagram, BDS, Palestinian Territories, Gaza Strip, Israel, Jordan, South Africa
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