Zara distances itself from Israeli designer who bashed Palestinians

Fashion house condemns comments made by senior employee Vanessa Perilman, in online tiff with Palestinian model who had made claims against the Jewish state

Vanessa Perilman attends a party in New York City on June 22, 2010 (Billy Farrell /Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

JTA — The fashion retailer Zara condemned one of its Jewish designers for telling a Palestinian model that his people are uneducated and blow up hospitals.

The company spoke out Tuesday about Vanessa Perilman, the head designer for its women’s department, who wrote the comment on Instagram to model Qaher Harhash, who is from East Jerusalem.

Perilman initiated the discussion because Harhash had called Israel “evil,” according to reports. He has claimed that Israel withholds drinking water from Arabs in East Jerusalem while providing it readily to Jews.

Israel provides water to East Jerusalem, but the infrastructure in the city’s east is not well kept, and water supply has suffered issues in the past.

“Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals,”  Perilman wrote to Harhash in one of several private messages on Instagram that were screenshot and later shared publicly. “Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”

“I think it’s funny that you are a model because, in reality, that is against what the Muslim faith believes in and if you were to come out of the closet in any Muslim country, you would be stoned to death,” she added.

Harhash wrote in response to Perilman: “Does your little brain teach you about power dynamics and how this could possibly hurt me?” and shared the correspondence, leading to criticism of Zara online.

“We condemn these comments that do not reflect our core values of respect for one another, and we regret the offense that they have caused,” Zara said in a statement about Perilman’s words.

Perilman has apologized to Harhash in private messages on Instagram, saying she spoke out of “anger” over alleged vitriol against Israel during and after its 11-day skirmish with Hamas last month.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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