Shashi Naidoo. Picture: Instagram

It's been a little over a month since model, actress and businesswoman Shashi Naidoo made controversial comments on social media about the Israel - Palestine conflict. 

The model come under fire after making comments she said were made from not fully understanding the situation.

"I posted a picture with a DJ in Ibiza and the post attracted commentary from another Instagram user because he had played in Israel. In what I believed was defense of him, I reached out to a friend to help articulate a response and offer a secondary point of view, as to be honest, I didn’t know much about the situation (although it sure must have looked otherwise). I stupidly copied and pasted the response verbatim in a feeble attempt to appear smart on social media without reading it comprehensibly (I know), thereby entering an issue of world importance, I had no real fundamental understanding of - my biggest mistake," Naidoo said in a post. 

She then went on a social media sabbatical and promised to visit Palestine. Although she was not able to visit Palestine, she did visit Jordan and was educated on the lives of millions of refugees in the region. 

Speaking to IOL, she said, "We had no problem with getting into Jordan and should have not had any problems getting into Palestine but we were stopped by the Israeli authorities and I remained in Jordan where I visited the Jerash Refugee Camp which was build for Palestinian refugee's," she said. 

After visiting Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Naidoo was to enter the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) through the Allenby Border Crossing in Jordan. Naidoo said she had been interrogated at the border, and her passport was stamped, preventing her from returning for a decade.

Since her return she has posted a few pictures of her visit to Jordan and said the trip helped her heal. "I felt terrible about the whole situation and I was depressed but when I got to the camp I realised I have nothing to be upset about because my life is fine compared to what these refugee's have to deal with. This trip was a healing process for me," she added.

See pictures below.

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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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. Mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. And maybe on that day, all the children of the world, will have the gift of never having to see their grandmothers carry tears, through generations, in their eyes.

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This power of the Palestinian spirit is a wonderful thing. Their suffering has not eroded their love and hospitality to strangers like me which is an indescribable strength of the Palestinian people. This is Nawal, she lives in the Jerash “Gaza” camp. She is a trained teacher at SEP Social Enterprise Project (SEP), which employs skilled Palestinian refugee women within the camp as artisans. These artisans make many unique handmade products, including embroidered home and fashion accessories, like shawls, tablecloths, bags, towels and scarves and their creations are sold at upmarket stores around the world including Harrods. Nawal is driven by the desire to contribute to the improvement of life conditions at the camp which she believes SEP can deliver. Her determined motivation took SEP from 20-ladies group to a team of 300!

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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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