ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Sale of Nazi-themed Valentine’s Day merchandise halted in Australia after outrage

Store owner says he thought items would be seen as cheeky fun ‘between couples’; Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission rejects ‘non-apology’

Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.

An undated screenshot showing some of the Valentine's Day products bearing Hitler's image that were listed and later removed from the website of Australian company Spicy Baboon. (Anti-Defamation Commission)
An undated screenshot showing some of the Valentine's Day products bearing Hitler's image that were listed and later removed from the website of Australian company Spicy Baboon. (Anti-Defamation Commission)

An Australian company offered Valentine’s Day merchandise for sale featuring the face of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, drawing harsh criticism from a Jewish watchdog group.

Spicy Baboon in Queensland offered customers mugs, stickers, hoodies, Valentine’s Day cards, crop tops, and T-shirts emblazoned with Hitler’s image — a rose in his mouth and little hearts surrounding him — alongside the caption: “Be mein.”

A statement accompanying the items on the company’s website read: “Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than Time Magazine’s Man of the Year (1938) clasping a rose.”

Following pushback from Australia’s Anti-Defamation Commission, the company removed the items from its website.

According to a statement issued by the ADC, Spicy Baboon owner Scott Mackenroth said the company meant no harm, thinking the products would be seen as cheeky fun “between couples.”

ADC chairman Dvir Abramovich rejected the company’s “non-apology” and urged Mackenroth to visit Holocaust survivors to better understand the issue.

An undated screenshot showing a Valentine’s Day product bearing Hitler’s image that was listed and later removed from the website of Australian company Spicy Baboon. (Anti-Defamation Commission)

“This is a new and perverse low in Australian retail. The words sickening, vomit-inducing, and stomach-churning do not even come close to describing this abomination,” read a statement issued by Abramovich.

“In a way, this is Holocaust denial for the 21st century. There is nothing funny, cool or fashionable about Hitler, and these products clearly demonstrate that nothing is off-limits and that all bets are off when it comes to the debasement of the Holocaust,” he added.

“Shame on this company for crossing all lines of moral decency… This cheap trick to generate sales plunges a knife into the heart of the survivors living here and is a spit on the graves of the courageous diggers who sacrificed their lives to defeat the Third Reich,” Abramovich said.

Amid a spike in reports of antisemitic incidents in Australia in recent years, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, banned public displays of Nazi symbols last August, following a similar decision by Victoria, the country’s second most populous state.

That followed a decision by Queensland that it would be banning the public display of Nazi symbols as well, under new laws to combat hate crimes and serious vilification throughout the state. The decision has not yet been implemented, however.

Other international digital shopping platforms have come under fire for selling products deemed as antisemitic or seen as glorifying Nazism in the past.

Two weeks ago, Amazon apologized and removed some Nazi and neo-Nazi items from its website after being called out by Simon Wiesenthal Center. In November, Walmart removed an item listed on its online marketplace as an “Elegant Sunscreen Scarves Sun Block Shawl Scarf Beach Shawl Towel Clothing Accessories for Women Judaism” that bore a striking resemblance to a tallit, the shawl worn by Jews during morning prayers. And last year, OpenSea, the world’s first and largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) drew criticism for allowing the sale and trade of Adolf Hitler-themed artwork.

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