Fashion wars / U.S. store pulls ‘pro-violence’ Palestinian T-shirt
T-shirt sold by Urban Outfitters showed Palestinian youth carrying automatic rifle, map of West Bank, Gaza.
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.”
The JAP tee shirt bothers me for the same reason that similar tee shirts bother me – because it encourages many girls’ mistaken belief that conforming to a stereotype is somehow empowering. Also, yes, claiming that Jewish girls are rich and materialistic is antisemitic. (On a somewhat tangential note, the “Obama for Yo Mama” teeshirt bothers me because it’s racist.) The keffiyeh and Palestinian tee shirt, however, bother me because they’re not activism – they’re merchandise. Urban Outfitters isn’t helping the Palestinian people by selling tee shirts and scarves. If it were selling tee shirts and scarves and sending the proceeds to Palestine, that would be helpful. But to me, it seems that they’re just capitalizing on a conflict that they can smugly observe from a distance.
Also, is a picture of a kid with a gun a nuanced examination of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict with all its shades of gray? No. Does it increase the likelihood that non-Israeli Jews will be randomly harassed and attacked? Well, random attacks are already happening, so yes.