The H&M clothing chain announced that after a deluge of complaints, it was pulling from its stores a shirt depicting a skull in the center of a Star of David.
“Please accept our most sincere apologies that this has caused offense,” a company spokesperson said. “We understand the criticism and in response to this have decided to remove the T-shirt from all stores with immediate effect.”
The shirt caused a firestorm of objections, and the company acknowledged that it was pulling the item and canceling orders “because of the feedback we received.”
The shirt was highlighted by Israeli blogger Eylon Aslan-Levy in a Times of Israel post on Sunday.
“The assumption is that the designer and H&M did not mean to offend Jews,” Mark Gardner, director of communications at the anti-Semitism watchdog Community Security Trust, told London’s Jewish Chronicle. “Nevertheless, fashion statements can work in diverse ways and if you randomly saw somebody wearing this in the street, then you might well believe it to be antisemitic and purchased from a neo-Nazi website or similar.
“It is for H&M to decide if they care about such things, but would they risk such reactions with a Christian crucifix or a Muslim crescent?” he asked.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center, questioned how such a blatantly offensive design could be marketed without raising eyebrows.
“While we may not know what the intentions of the designer might be, it is fair to also ask to those in the chain of command of this international company: Was there no one who upon seeing the shirt would have immediately understood what the negative impact of juxtaposing the skull and Magen David would be on an entire community?” he told Jewish newspaper Algemeiner.
“If the company still ‘doesn’t get it,’ it might be time to take our business elsewhere,” he added.