Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, who stars in a campaign for the Israeli fashion brand Hoodies, has removed the company’s latest ad from her Instagram page in the wake of the social media storm it sparked.
The campaign opens with Refaeli wearing a traditional niqab, accompanied by the text “Is this Iran?” Refaeli then removes the niqab to reveal herself dressed in jeans and a pullover, as the text “Freedom is Basic” appears.
The campaign was sharply criticized on social media, with Muslim women, as well as others, calling it racist and offensive to women who choose to adhere to a religious lifestyle or wear traditional religious garb.
The campaign, created by the advertising company, Gefen Team, includes several other Israeli celebrities, including transgender Israeli model Stav Strashko, Arab-Israeli reality star Shams Marie Abomokh (who appears in a hijab and does not remove it), Ethiopian-Israeli model Tahounia Rubel and ultra-Orthodox Youtube star Melech Zilbershlag.
“If we’re talking about freedom of expression and not racism, why doesn’t the man with the kippah throw it aside like Bar Racist-eli throws her hijab?” one commenter wrote.
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Another user wrote: “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Most of your customers are of Arab heritage and most of your workers are Arab women who wear headscarves. At the very least respect your workers. That Abomokh does not represent me,” wrote one commenter referring to Shams Marie Abomokh.
In a response video, blogger Nas Daily calls the ad “terrible” and refuses to display the name of the company, arguing that it doesn’t deserve any more publicity. The ad “assumes that the less clothes you have the more free you are, and that is an insult to every woman’s choice,” he says.
Hoodies responded: “Our new campaign is meant to inspire people from all religions, races and genders to follow their own path and express their freedom in whichever way they choose. The campaign follows a worldwide trend of corporations and brands taking on social goals and producing campaigns with the greater good in mind. We chose to shine a spotlight on public figures that are an inspiration to Israeli society. If we offended anyone, we are sorry. We believe that with the release of the rest of the campaign the positive nature of our agenda will be illuminated.”
The company refused to comment on Refaeli’s decision to remove the campaign from her Instagram page, citing it as her own personal choice.