Popular U.S. clothing store Urban Outfitters has halted sales of a T-shirt apparently supporting Palestinian violence that has sparked outrage in the American Jewish community.
The T-shirt, created by Los Angeles-based designer "Fashion Jive," depicts a young Palestinian boy carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, over the word "Victimized." The T-shirt also shows the Palestinian flag, a map of the Palestinian territories and a small white dove. The item sold online for $25.
"If Urban Outfitters is good at something, it is getting publicity," remarked Ami Cohen, works for American Apparel in Tel Aviv. "This company has a history of coming into conflict with Jews."
Several years ago, the company played on the "Jewish American Princess" stereotype by selling T-shirts with the slogan "Everybody Loves a Jewish Girl," surrounded by dollar signs and shopping bags.
In 2007, it again came into conflict with Jewish and pro-Israel consumers for selling versions of a traditional Arab headdress, the kaffiyeh, as an "anti-war scarf."
Although the firm's CEO, Dick Heyne, argued that the company had not intended "to imply any sympathy for or support of terrorists or terrorism" by selling the kaffiyeh, some argue that selling of the "Victimized" T-shirt does just that.
"Of course this T-shirt is supporting terrorism," said Leah Weiss, a fashion designer who recently immigrated to Israel. "I've joined a Facebook group to boycott Urban Outfitters and get rid of their clothes. I will never shop there again."
The T-shirt also sparked debate among Jewish bloggers, who discussed the elements of violence depicted in the T-shirt. JBlog Central reported that one surfer had branded the item of clothing a "brutal, bloody Jew-hating tee shirt."
Stacey Strober, Urban Outfitter's Store Operations Manager, said in response that the shirt had been removed from shops and the online store, and that the company had never intended to cause upset.
"Please understand that we do not buy items to provoke controversy or to intentionally offend. We have pulled this item in all of our locations and will no longer be selling it online either."
Others, however, expressed support for the T-shirt and its message.
"All fashion is political in nature. Since most people today aren't directly involved in politics, fashion is a good way to reach people and raise their awareness about the Israeli occupation," argued Sami Zeibak, a Palestinian fashion journalist living in Tel Aviv.
"Jewish people should not be offended by this because it is not anti-Jewish and not anti-Israel, it is anti-occupation."