Sears has begun selling apparel with the words “Free Palestine” printed on it, along with maps that eliminate Israel. Public outrage caused the retailer to remove the offending clothing line.
Sears has started selling a clothing line calling to “Free Palestine,” Reuters reported Tuesday, causing outrage and sparking calls to boycott the retailer.
The “Free Palestine” line of clothing was offered through Sears Marketplace, a new platform that lets vendors sell their goods through the department store’s auspices. Items on offer included hoodies, tank tops, and t-shirts with “Free Palestine” gracing the front, and a clenched fist painted with the Palestinian national colors in the background. Some shirts also sported the entire map of Israel under the “Free Palestine” slogan. A description of some of the shirts advises customers to “Make a statement about the Arab–Israeli conflict with this powerful design.”
The German clothing maker Spread Shirt has been selling the apparel since October 2016. Spread Shirt said in a statement, “We value freedom of expression, whether it’s with your own designs or those made available by our community. T-shirts, sweaters, bags, aprons and a lot more can easily be personalized with images and custom text.”
Reports of the merchandise caused public outcry, particularly on social media, where a #BoycottSears hashtag was trending. The Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith quickly slammed the company, saying in a statement, “We are appalled at Sears jumping into a geo-political issue by selling glib t-shirts that proclaim ‘Free Palestine’ – seriously?”
A Sears spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post the merchandise was an oversight. “We will fix it and ensure this is not repeated,” he said. “We do not want our customers to be unhappy, and we will be removing the items soon.”
By: Tzvi Lev, World Israel News
Update: Sears has now pledged to remove the t-shirts from its online store following widespread media coverage and a barrage of customer complaints.