I have read about and seen a photograph of the grossly anti-Semitic T-shirt you are selling in your Oxford Street branch in London. You have reportedly said you do not mean offense and therefore will not be removing it from sale.
Perhaps you will rethink your knee jerk reaction to something that is evocative of Nazi era propaganda against Jews. I suggest you remove it and stop providing the BDS and PSC with propaganda material – unless of course you secretly support their cause, in which case please come out of the closet.
I remain hopefully yours
[Name suppied] One who continues to search how the Holocaust happened, designed and delivered as it was by a supposedly civilised European people of great culture and education. I’m beginning to realise how it happened as organisations like H&M join a bandwagon, even if without prior malice, to aid and abet the evil designers of genocide."
The above strongly-worded missive has been sent to the clothing retailer H&M by a British Jew outraged at the logo on this tank top on sale in the store's menswear section, which featured in a Times of Israel article yesterday. (See this post by Elder of Ziyon too.)
The writer of the article, Eylon Aslan-Levy, Chairman of the National Council of the Union of Jewish Students, notes, inter alia:
'I doubt that there were anti-Semitic intentions on the part of the designer, but there is no escaping that the juxtaposition – no matter how accidental – of these two symbols is entirely inappropriate and offensive. The more I look at it, the more I am at a loss to explain how H&M commissioned or even approved this item. It is at minimum an extremely unfortunate oversight in the H&M department, which has displayed an egregious failure of cultural awareness and sensitivity. There is a long history of associating Jewish symbols with Satanic imagery, and this product inadvertently falls within this tradition.
H&M is so far refusing to withdraw this unpleasant item. Its customer services department assures me that it “did not mean to cause offence” and that it was certainly not the store’s intention to “represent a star with… religious connotations”: this assurance is entirely credible, and it would be a mistake to accuse H&M of anti-Semitism, but this design still has no place in British high street fashion, and the only appropriate response for H&M is to discontinue this item forthwith.
Freedom of speech is sacrosanct: the freedom to offend and upset, short of directly inciting violence or hatred, must be an unshakeable principle in every Western liberal democracy.... TIt is an abuse of power to censor people for saying things we deem tasteless but they deem important truths. But as H&M itself insists, the unambiguous resemblance of this design to a Star of David was not intended to prove a point, no matter how nefarious: so this is isn’t a free speech issue. This is a matter of H&M making a clearly unfortunate mistake and being unaware of having done so.
I encourage people who are concerned, therefore, to email customerservice.UK@hm.com to explain why this distasteful design should be taken off the racks.' [Emphasis added]My own view is that the protest that I cite at the beginning of this post is, while an understandable reaction, too strident and likely to make the store dig its heels in.
Less counterproductive, I feel, would be something like this:
"I am writing to request that you kindly remove from sale the men's tank tops in your current menswear range that feature a skull superimposed upon a Star of David. You may be unaware that such an image is extremely distressing for Jews. It brings to mind the juxtaposing of Satanic imagery with Jewish symbols characteristic of some truly obnoxious hardcore antisemitism both on the internet and elsewhere, while at the same time it brings to mind the extermination of millions of Jews in the Holocaust (who of course were compelled in Nazi-occupied Europe to display the Star of David on their clothing prior to being rounded up and sent to the death camps).
It is not unlikely that neo-Nazis will purchase and wear these tank tops in order to bait Jews and cause them affront and distress. However, regardless of who purchases and wears them, the display of such a logo is tasteless and ill-advised, as I am confident you will agree.
[Name]"I could add that the tank tops are likely to play into the hands of opponents of Israel and Zionism. But making that point is probably neither wise nor worthwhile.
Incidentally, if the name Eylon Aslan-Levy rings a bell with you but you're not sure why, this will jog your memory!