Greece's Miss Universe contestant hailed for boycotting Israel pageant
Rafaele Plastira announced her decision on Instagram, saying that she can’t ignore the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories.
"I will not be attending 'Miss universe' this year. The reason for that is the country," Plastira said in the post.
"I am absolutely not disrespecting the country. I love all countries from all over the world but my heart goes to all the people fighting for their lives in Israel & Palestine. I can't go up that stage and act like nothing is happening when people are fighting for their lives out there."
In a later post, she posted a Palestine solidarity carousel on her Instagram, which featured Palestinians and different images in support of the cause.
"I may not live in Palestine but Palestine lives in my heart forever ❤️ I see humans but not humanity❗️Pray for Palestine 🇵🇸🙏🏻," she said.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel on Monday welcomed her decision.
Africa4Palestine, Africa's largest pro-Palestine group, also hailed Plastira's "heroic" stance.
"Her withdrawal is a courageous act and makes her a true hero of all who value human rights, justice and peace in the world", the group said in a statement, urging Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane to follow suit.
"We continue to applaud the courageous voices of Miss Indonesia, Miss Malaysia and now Miss Greece and appeal to all our fellow African countries to withdraw and not allow their good name to be tainted by Apartheid Israel's genocide, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity perpetrated against innocent Palestinians."
Meanwhile, reigning Miss Universe Andrea Meza of Mexico called for contestants to separate politics from the pageant as contestants face a moral dilemma about whether to boycott the 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 before embarking a tour of Jerusalem. "It’s just about embracing other women."