Vanessa Perelman, chief designer of the popular Spanish clothing brand ZARA, sparked hate after she made hateful comments against Palestinians in a conversation with a Palestinian model, the latter of which later revealed the conversation on social media.
During the conversation, Perelman defended Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, blamed the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, whom she called terrorists, and attacked the Islamic faith.
The beginning came when Vanessa Perelman made controversial hate comments in a letter responding to the pro-Palestine posts by Palestinian model from occupied East Jerusalem Qaher Harhash.
Ignoring Israeli air strikes last month during a brutal bombing campaign that killed more than 250 Palestinians - including 67 children - in the besieged Gaza Strip, Perelman wrote to Harhash, "Perhaps if your people were educated, they wouldn't blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel paid for in Gaza." .
"The Israelis do not teach children to hate, and they do not throw stones at soldiers as your people do," Perelman said.
Vanessa Perliman a head designer at Zara DM'd a young Palestinian model this racist garbage and when she was called out gave a lukewarm apology before deleting all her social media.
I emailed Zara to demand that disciplinary action be taken and this was their dismal response.
— Nooran A. (@nooranhamdan) June 11, 2021
She added, according to a photo of her message revealed by Harhash, "People in my industry know the reality of Israel and Palestine and I will never stop defending Israel. People like you come and go in the end."
"I think it's funny to be a model, because in fact this is against your Islamic faith, and if you go out of the box in any Muslim country, you will be stoned to death," she added.
After the publication of this message, international fashion brand Zara was subjected to widespread criticism recently, and calls for a boycott.
Hi @ZARA , we wont stay silent about your head designer attacking Palestinian model for supporting #FreePalestine instigating hate & vowing to defend Israeli crimes in #Palestine #Gaza showing disgusting racism, Islamophobia & anti Palestinianism.
Take action or #BoycottZara https://t.co/aRXz8RX08c pic.twitter.com/PgiilX9X3P
— Omar Ghraieb 🇵🇸 (@Omar_Gaza) June 13, 2021
Perelman has since deleted her Instagram account and other social media pages, amid a widespread backlash that also saw pro-Palestinian advocates file a complaint with Zara.
"It was clear that she apologized because she felt threatened by people who wrote to her and declared her ignorance," Harhash wrote on Instagram last Sunday.
"So far, Vanessa Perelman has not been fired."
"Why did you post things about my work, that's so strange, someone wrote to me in Arabic saying they would find me and kill children," Perelman wrote in an exchange with Harhash.
Messages from Zara fashion designer and model Qaher Harhash
"I'm sorry if that disagreement started something that should have happened, but now it's out of control," she said.
Harhash replied, "I ignored you for several days but you kept going. Do you realize that you bullied me through my personal account? You work for the brand, many models want to join it, do you understand how you hurt me?"
Harhash noted that the Spanish brand Zara asked him to share an apology written by Perelman, which he refused.
“If Zara wants to make a statement with me, they should also tackle Islamophobia,” Harhash said.
"When some fashion designers said anti-Semitic things before, they were fired," he added.
Harhash called on followers to boycott the brand using the hashtag #BoycottZara.
The messages sparked angry reactions towards the designer and the famous Zara brand, with one writing to Zara, "Supporting these kinds of comments by designers is absolutely shameful, no wonder your clothing standards have fallen!
For its part, the Zara chain has not yet publicly commented on the current controversy, although social media users have shared parts of an emailed statement from the retailer claiming that "the misunderstanding has been cleared up and closed."