Shashi Naidoo defends herself after Palestine u-turn: 'I was wrong'
It's been just over a month since Shashi Naidoo faced widespread outrage for comments that were viewed as Pro-Israeli, after she called Gaza a "s**thole", and she says she has learnt several lessons.
Shashi made headlines last week after she was denied entry into Palestine by Israeli authorities and has been banned from the state for ten years.
The trip was organised by Palestine human rights and solidarity organisation Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa, which formed part of the reason Israeli authorities did not allow her entry.
When Shashi first got into a debate with a follower on Instagram, she claimed to have "copied and pasted" a response formulated by a friend, but didn't have much knowledge about state of affairs.
However, after making the trip to Jordan and educating herself on the situation between Palestine and Israel, Shashi said she has realised that her initial comments "were wrong".
This has been seen as a "u-turn" by some followers, to which Shashi has responded that she knew she was wrong and didn't want to continue arguing over the debacle.
"Ever had a fight with your boyfriend and realized half way through the argument that you were wrong but carried on arguing anyway just because you wanted to be right? I was wrong. I am sorry. And I don’t want to be the that person," she told one follower.
Over the weekend, Shashi also shared a few pictures from her trip to Jordan and some of the lessons she's learnt.
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.
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.