Zara Faces Calls for Boycott Over Head Designer’s Exchange With Palestinian Model on Israel Conflict

A Zara store in Edmonton, Canada. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Social media users have called for a boycott of the Spanish apparel company Zara after one of its head designers sparred with a Palestinian model over the latter’s pro-Palestinian posts on Instagram.

Palestinian male model Qaher Harhash, who has accused Israel of “apartheid” and “occupation,” shared last week a screenshot of a private Instagram message he allegedly received from Vanessa Perilman, Zara’s head designer for the women’s department, in which she voiced support for Israel and criticized the model’s portrayal of Israel as “a horrible evil country.”

“Maybe if your people were educated, then they wouldn’t blow up hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza,” Perilman reportedly said, in part. “Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”

She added, “I will NEVER stop defending Israel and people like you come and go and in the end, as the Jewish survived the Holocaust, we will survive this bulls**t circus media that you are positing.”

After screenshots of her comments were posted online, social media users shared the hashtags “BoycottZara” and “ZaraMustApologize,” and accused the brand for Islamophobia. Others also called on Zara to fire Perilman.

Perilman soon after reached out to Harhash and said in a series of private messages on Instagram that she was sorry for her harsh remarks. She explained she is concerned about losing her job and the safety of her children, and told the model her and her family have received death threats as a result of her comments.

“It makes me sad that we can’t see eye to eye on politics but that doesn’t mean I wish bad things to happen to you,” Perilman wrote to Harhash. “I’m sorry if this fight started something more than it should have but now it’s getting out of control … I’m just fed up with everyone saying terrible things about Israel.”

“So many people have been super mean at work and saying terrible things about Jews that i [sic] took it out on you and I feel really really bad,” she continued to say. “I feel terrible. Especially because I’m a mom and I shouldn’t be writing mean things like that … I am so so sorry. I really hope you can forgive me.”

Twitter user Nooran Alhamdan said on Friday that she reached out to Zara about Perilman and demanded “disciplinary action be taken.” Zara responded via email and said following an “internal investigation,” the company concluded that “from what we know through our research, her immediate and spontaneous apology was accepted and so the misunderstanding was clarified and closed on Wednesday.” Harhash himself said that he does not accept Perilman’s “half assed apology.”

The designer reportedly deleted all of her social media accounts following the conversation with Harhash. The Palestinian model said that Zara asked him to share Perilman’s apology publicly but he refused to do, Newsweek reported.

“If Zara wants to make a statement with me, they also need to address Islamophobia. When certain fashion designers said antisemitic things, they were fired from their jobs.” he said, according to Newsweek. He added, “So far, Vanessa Perilman hasn’t been fired.”

Harhash added: “For me an apology means to fully acknowledge the pain or suffering you caused someone. She came into my DM’s wrote hateful comments, why should I accept a half assed apology?”

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Author: Shiryn Ghermezian


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