Nine things Shashi Naidoo learned after controversial Gaza remarks

Nine things Shashi Naidoo learned after controversial Gaza remarks

Model Shashi Naidoo is sharing the nine things she did not know about the Israel-Palestine conflict a month ago.

Shashi Naidoo in Jordan
Shashi Naidoo in Jordan Instagram/@shashinaidoo https://www.instagram.com/p/BlvNMHrHIO4/

Shashi Naidoo is back in South Africa after her trip to Israel and Palestine was cut short. Israeli officials prevented her from not only entering Palestine, but banned her from Israel for 10 years.  

The 37-year-old hoped to use the trip to "educate and re-educate" herself about the conflict between the two regions. 

She announced the trip to Israel during a press briefing with pro-Palestinian movement, BDS South Africa, last month.

The model planned the "fact-finding" mission after she received major backlash online for referring to Palestine as a "sh**hole" country during an argument with an Instagram user. She was attempting to defend DJ Black Coffee who came under fire for his decision to perform in Tel Aviv earlier this year. 

Shashi lost thousands of followers as a result of her comments and decided to take a break from social media after receiving death threats. 

She broke her Instagram hiatus a few days ago, sharing a picture of herself in Jordan. 

Shashi captioned the post, '9 Things I did not know a month ago'. 

One of the things she says she learned is that she did not know that her opinion mattered.

"I now know that even the smallest voices can make a difference in the struggle for Justice for all people."

Here's a look at what she learned:

9 THINGS I DID NOT KNOW A MONTH AGO: 1. I did not know that Palestine is divided into Gaza and West Bank. They are physically separated by Israel in between. I now know that Gaza is the world’s largest concentration camp and free travel between Gaza and the West Bank is virtually impossible especially if you are Palestinian. 2. I did not know that Palestinians are the largest refugee population in the world. I now know that over 6 million Palestinians cannot return to their own homes, and live in constant separation from loved ones and family members. 3. I did not know that Palestine was such an important issue for South Africans. I now know that the Palestinian issue is about basic human rights, which we as South Africans hold close to our hearts. 4. I did not know that my pursuit of knowledge would attract the label of “terrorist” or “threat” from the government of Israel. I now know that any person who has a different opinion to that of the State of Israel could be seen as a “threat”. 5. I did not know how labels are used to vilify individuals. Professionals such as doctors, authors, accountants, lawyers and even organisations have been labelled "threats" to Israel because they engage in activism. I have come to know them as wonderful souls driven by truth and justice. 6. I did not know that this was not a religious issue. I now know that it is about basic human rights and these belong to all beings regardless of religion, ethnicity, race or creed. 7. I did not know how multi-faceted this issue truly is. I now know that despite the complexities, the uncontroversial facts are that the occupation must end, and Palestinians deserve Freedom, a right that all humans should enjoy. 8. I did not know how vicious social media commentary can be. I now know that compassion attracts the heart to the truth, not aggression. 9. I did not know that my opinion mattered. I now know that even the smallest voices can make a difference in the struggle for Justice for all people.

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Shashi also thanked her mother, who helped fund her trip to Israel, for joining her on the journey.

"I call it a journey because I have been on it, I still am on it, and it will only end when Palestine is free. The one thing my mother and I did a lot of on this trip was talk, and it’s clear to me that dialogue needs to happen in order to invoke meaningful change," she captioned this picture with her mom.

Shashi also reflected on the plight of millions of people living in refugee camps. 

"This is Hibdeh. She is 80 years old and has only known life in a refugee camp. Spending some time with her got me thinking. She could be your grandmother, my grandmother... anyones grandmother. This journey has taught me that it doesn’t matter if you’re Pro-Palestine or Pro-Israel. That is not the point. We are all people. People with ties to each other, and with love we wish to share. I think we need to find empathy and compassion to see, not Palestinians, or Israeli’s, Jews or Muslims, or whatever label we chose to differentiate us, but people."

I think a story that needs to be shared is that of the upwards of 6 million people living in Refugee camps... These refugee camps came about as a result of conflicts during 1946-1948, resultant with Palestinians who lost both their homes and means of livelihood, and again, in the aftermath of the hostilities of 1967 and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Camps were set up to “temporarily” accommodate those displaced. Despite how long they have been living as refugees outside of Palestine, the thing that SHOCKED me the most is that people are not given local identity numbers, meaning that they are unable to seek gainful employment; the majority of which, are forced to rely on funding from organizations such as UNRWA (The United Nations Relief & Works Fund) Due to recent drastic funding cuts from America, UNRWA now more than ever needs our help. One of the things I witnessed myself, along with the lack of basic services in general, as a result of these budget cuts, is that refuse removal has been severely affected. This has the potential for serious health implications by the very real chance of the spread of disease considering the confined spaces, within which refugees are forced to live. The dignity of people can largely be effected by the surroundings they find themselves in. And WE NEED TO HELP. The Alushi foundation has made a contribution to UNRWA in this plight, of you would like to help or donate please visit https://www.unrwa.org/

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Meanwhile, Israeli Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan says Shashi is welcome to visit Israel but "but not under threats & pressure from hate-filled BDS groups". 

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