South African model, Shashi Naidoo (right) was banned by Israel for wanting to learn more about the occupation of Palestine. (Photo: Mary Nazzal-Batayneh/Facebook)

Johannesburg - Model and actress Shashi Naidoo has received a 10-year ban from Israel after she tried to enter the West Bank to educate herself about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. 

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

Naidoo was reportedly denied passage on the orders of the Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deriand on the recommendation of Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. 

Israeli authorities control access to Palestine.

On Wednesday BDS spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed to Independent Media (IOL) that Naidoo was headed back to Jordan before flying back to South Africa. 

"She's making her way back to South Africa," she said. 

According to the BDS, Mandla Mandela will welcome Naidoo when she arrives at OR Tambo International Airport where the pair is expected to hold a press conference.
 
Naidoo joins a growing list of South Africans who have been denied passage to Palestine including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Minister Blade Nzimande, World Council of Churches leader Isabel Phiri and many others South African citizens. 

BDS added that Israel also blocked Jews who are critical of Israel like Rabbi Alisa Wise of  Jewish Voices for Peace. 

"This repressive behaviour is how Israel treats Palestinians who are subjected to similar but worse forms of restriction and denial of many other freedoms, similar to the way we South Africans once were treated by the Apartheid regime".
 
"This is a clear indication of Israel's refusal to allow freedom of movement, expression and association. This behaviour by Israel infringes on our diplomatic relations and is a further indication of the need for South Africa to implement the ANC’s resolution for the immediate and unconditional downgrade of the SA Embassy as Israel".

Also reacting to the news was the SAJBD, who defended Israel's decision to deny Naidoo passage to Palestine. 

The organisation explained that thousands of South Africans of all races, religions and beliefs travel to and from Israel for a whole host of different reasons and enter via various border crossings and do so as they would in any other country. 

"Shashi Naidoo chose to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories to educate herself about the region and the conflict, as indeed all those who wish to understand the conflict further, should do. Unfortunately, she has chosen to do so through the BDS organisation".

"The BDS is based on the premise that Israel should be boycotted until it ceases to exist as a Jewish state. Many of the campaigns the organisation initiates in South Africa have resulted in blatant antisemitic incidents."

The SAJBD added that: "It was clear from the press conference Naidoo held with BDS on 20 June 2018, that the aim of the trip was less about Shashi learning about Palestine and more about “re-educating” her into holding the same beliefs as BDS; principally that Israel should not exist, and that anyone associated with Israel, including Jews here in South Africa, should be targeted in the BDS’ campaign of hate."

"This BDS campaign of hate has led to many countries around the world, including Israel, Germany, Canada, France and the US actively legislating against BDS activity, effectively recognising and rejecting the inherent racism and anti-Semitism of this organisation.

The organisation then added that for these reasons, it recognises Israel's right, like other sovereign states, to deny entry to those calling for its destruction. 

"We hope that Naidoo will renounce BDS, and soon return to Israel and Palestine through the proper channels, in order to learn more about the complexities of that conflict, and the real suffering experienced by both Israelis and Palestinians due to the lack of a viable peace process".

IOL and African News Agency/ANA