Miss SA: Mind the gender gap, Mr Roper

CHRIS ROPER WRITES “we need to demand accountability of beauty pageant contestants and governments alike. And consistency in their application of principle.” Roper’s views are decidedly patriarchal, old-fashioned, and redolent of gentlemen clubs and men’s magazines. He thus appears to garner his information on the subject from Wikipedia and his principles with reference to one Iqbal Surve and the Independent Group.

That’s the daily media outlet still touting a decuplet, multi-child trafficking story.

Woman have been getting their own act together and deciding their fate for themselves ever since women’s suffrage started in 1889. A former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan fully supports Miss SA, and has come out in support of Lalela Mswane’s stance. It is her decision as a women after all, to attend or not at the end of the day.

Since Roper’s article is behind a paywall, I can only surmise on the rest of its contents, but his macho rhetoric appears to be in line with other male BDS chauvinists and homophobes, those who continue to stake their claim as [white] males in determining the views of black women such as Mswane

In South Africa white women were given the right to vote by the ‘Women’s Enfranchisement Act of 1930’. It would tragically take another 6 decades before black women were effectively able to vote in 1994.

In contrast, black women have been able to vote since the inception of the state of Israel in 1948, and following the events of the Nazi Holocaust which stripped Jews of legal status as persons. Racist policies which turned European Jews into chattel slaves, to be euthenised when the German war machine had no further use of slave labour. Ethiopian Jews for instance comprise some 3.3 percent of the population, while Maghrabi Jews, those from North Africa number in the region of 750 000. All of whom possess the vote.

Roper like many other misguided individuals, appears to claim black women experience the same situation of apartheid disenfranchisement in Israel, while Gaza and the Palestinian Authority are somehow ‘beacons of hope when it comes to LGTBIQ+ rights’. He thus embraces a false supercessionist movement to replace Israel with yet another Arab State within a broader constellation of Arab States under the rubric of Palestinian statehood. (please see: Letter: Seth Rogen: ‘I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel’ ).

Far from being ‘occupied’ and surrounded by Israel, Gaza shares a border with Egypt and is a separate country for all intents and purposes. The situation in the PA is a lot different and may be likened to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. No apartheid bantustan ever complained of ‘being occupied’. For the record, I support the Corpus Separatum viz. vi. the status of Jerusalem and do not favour partition. (please see: What if Israel didn’t exist? Isacowitz vs Shain)

The reverse is true.

When it comes to women and gay rights, Palestinian leadership fails miserably. There has never been a female Palestinian head of state, while Golda Meir was Israel’s PM from 1969-1974. According to Amnesty International, women in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority continue to face discrimination and violence, including killings as a result of gender-based violence. An Hamas-run Islamic court in the Gaza Strip ruled in February that women require the permission of a male guardian to travel.

On the ‘moderate side’, President Mahmoud Abbas amended an election law in March, raising a quota for women in the West Bank, Palestinian Authority legislature to 26%, ‘not the promised 30%’. This is still a far cry from the 50% female quotient of the population, and the result devalues women.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, & transgender (LGBT) persons in the “State of Palestine” face legal challenges and discrimination not experienced by non-LGBTIQ+ residents. The Amnesty 2020 report on Palestine states: “Section 152 of the Penal Code in Gaza criminalizes [male] consensual same-sex sexual activity and makes it punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.” In 2019, the Palestinian Authority police banned the activities of queer and feminist rights organization Al Qaws and demanded that residents report ‘suspicious’ activities.

Several reports on the subject of so-called Israel Apartheid have been discredited in recent years, since clearly nations are not races. While ethnicity plays a part, there is no science to back up the claim.

Discredited reports

The infamous 1975 UN resolution 3379 ‘equating zionism with racism‘ was overturned by an overwhelming majority of nations in 1991. The same assertion was voted out of the final text of the controversial 2001 Durban Conference on Racism  and the text reaffirmed at Durban II. A highly flawed 2017 UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) report examining the policies of Israel within the context of a UN definition of apartheid was withdrawn by UN Secretary-general Guterres. It famously introduced race categories in order to arrive at its conclusions.

The same category error appears in an equally flawed 2009 local HSRC report written around the time of Durban II and a subsequent NGO Human Rights Watch report published earlier this year.  Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch has thus been referring to the unrest surrounding the Sheik Jarra neighbourhood of Jerusalem (which escalated into the incursions on the Temple Mount, and the recent war pursued by Gaza this year) as a conflict occurring in a ‘mixed race’ area.

His assertions beg the question: why are black Jews invisible when it comes to the media? Is it because a Yemenite Jew from Yemen is not considered black enough, nor even Arab for that matter?

While many of the policies of Israel may be considered ‘reprehensible and morally indefensible’, (as are the policies of many other states) the situation is rather one of injustice vs injustice (especially considering the Farhud, and the complicity of Palestinian leadership at the Wannsee conference where Hitler’s Final Solution was adopted). The root cause is not race, (a loaded term) but the confluence of ​religion and ethnicity and in particular, religious schism which has resulted in nationality on the basis of religion​, a fact common to many Middle Eastern countries.

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