Did Zara really pledge to 'exterminate' T-shirts likened to Holocaust uniforms?

Matthew Champion@matthewchampion
Wednesday 27 August 2014 18:50

By now you will probably have seen this T-shirt, which up until today was on sale on the Zara Kids website.

While the top was marketed as a "striped 'sheriff' T-shirt" it bears close resemblance to the striped uniforms strongly identified with the concentration camps of the Holocaust - the yellow star-shaped sheriff's badge even has six points, like the Star of David patches Jews were ordered to wear on their clothes in Nazi Germany.

After an outcry online Zara's parent company Inditex issued an apology and said it had been withdrawn from sale worldwide.

"Zara Kids has removed a children's T-shirt from its stores and website. The T-shirt withdrawn was inspired by the classic American Westerns and has been taken out of circulation due to the potential similarity with the Star of David that has been used as a yellow star patch. Zara has issued a heartfelt apology on its social network profiles.

"The garment was available only for just a few hours and sales of the T-shirt have been marginal. The items will be reliably destroyed.

"Inditex would like to reiterate its utmost respect for all cultures and religions. The group is a company where people from 180 nationalities work together representing all the cultures, races and religions of the modern world. Inditex is proud of its cultural diversity. In addition, respect and dignity feature among the principles which guide and define its corporate values. The group condemns and rejects any form of discrimination."

  • Inditex spokesperson

However, it was claimed in Israel, where the story first originated, that the local Zara office's statement went further, claiming that the offending items would be "exterminated" - which clearly has very uncomfortable connotations.

Israel's +972 Magazine, quoting the Hebrew-language tech.walla.co.il, said the statement issued in Israel read: "The item in question, part of the Cowboy Collection for babies, was inspired by the character of the sheriff in Wild West movies. The word ‘Sheriff’ is visible on the star at the front of the item.

"Nevertheless, we can understand the sensitive context and connotation that was created.

"The item does not exist in Israel and as soon as the issue became clear, it was decided the product will be removed from shelves across the world and exterminated.

"We sincerely apologise if, as a result, we have offended the feelings of our customers."

+972 Magazine journalist Dimi Reider wrote that the statement issued in Hebrew contained the word "ויושמדו" (hashmada), which can mean 'exterminate', 'cut out' or 'will be destroyed'. He added, however, that it was the same word used to describe the Nazi extermination camps, which are Mahanot haHashmada in Hebrew.

Mr Reider told i100: "Granted, it's the usual word for discarding defective products - the equivalent of 'eliminate' - but in this context the stage for the Holocaust association is already perfectly set and few would miss it. They really should've just said they'll recycle it or return to subcontractor or something."

However, just to really add some clarity to the issue, Inditex told i100 it "categorically denied" that the word exterminate was ever used.

"In none of our statements, or those by the company’s spokespeople, have we used the word ‘exterminate’ or even one which could be mistranslated as meaning that," a spokesperson said, adding that there was not even a spokesman speaking for Zara in Israel in Hebrew, with all enquiries being dealt with the head office in Spain or in London.

So, hopefully that clears that up.