Greek Miss Universe contestant Rafaele Plastira has withdrawn from the Miss Universe pageant which is set to be held in Israel due to her political stance on the Palestinian issue.
Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Plastira made the announcement on her Instagram account telling her followers that she’s not going to participate in the pageant, citing the hosting country as a reason for her decision.
“I will not be attending ‘Miss universe’ this year. The reason for that is the country,” she said. “I can’t go up that stage and act like nothing is happening when people are fighting for their lives out there.”
Plastira however clarified her stance towards Israel, something that was omitted from most of the media coverage.
""I am absolutely not disrespecting the country [Israel]. I love all countries from all over the world but my heart goes to all the people fighting for their lives in Israel & Palestine." she added.
In a separate post, Plastira expressed her admiration for the Palestinian people, writing: “I may not live in Palestine but Palestine lives in my heart forever”.
The controversial decision by Plastira was welcomed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) noting that "Palestinians salute Greek contestant Rafaele Plastira for withdrawing from Miss Universe hosted by apartheid Israel."