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article image‘Holocaust’ T-shirt sparks outrage in the Jewish community

By Yukio Strachan     Apr 24, 2012 in Lifestyle
Urban Outfitters faces widespread outrage for a yellow T-shirt with a six-pointed star logo which closely resembles the Star of David that Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
The badge was one of the most recognizable symbols of anti-Semitism during the Holocaust. A spokesman for Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial and Museum, said the design was "in bad taste," and especially with the recent commemorations for Holocaust Remembrance Day, the sale of the shirt on the retail web site of Urban Outfitters provoked strong reactions among Israelis, Jewish News One reported.
On Thursday –– Holocaust Remembrance Day –– Barry Morrison, ADL Regional Director, wrote a strongly-worded letter of condemnation to Richard Hayne, Chairman, President and CEO of Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters to remove the shirt from its online catalog.
"We find this use of symbolism to be extremely distasteful and offensive, and are outraged that your company would make this product available to your customers." the letter said, according to a press release posted on ADL's web site
A screenshot of Urban Outfitters online catalog shows a t-shirt that features Holocaust imagery.
A screenshot of Urban Outfitters online catalog shows a t-shirt that features Holocaust imagery.
Screenshot/Jewish News One via YouTube
The controversial T-shirt is yellow and features a blue six-pointed star reminiscent of the yellow badges that Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear during the Holocaust, Fox news reported.
CBS news reminds us that Jewish people who wore the badges as identification of their faith were then forced to live separately from others in ghettos.
The Star of David or a Jewish badge was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outerga...
The Star of David or a Jewish badge was a cloth patch that Jews were ordered to sew on their outergarments in order to mark them as Jews in public.
Corrie ten Boom Museum
Those who refused to wear the yellow badges, consisting of the Star of David and the word “Jew” written in different languages in the center, faced severe penalties, including execution.
“It’s a new low in Urban Outfitter’s consistent use of various offensive messages in what appears to be a quest for attention,” Morrison told Fox. “We are very troubled by it.”
“The juxtaposition of the six-pointed star on a yellow shirt brings about associations with the yellow Star of David that the Jews were forced to wear. A symbol marking Jews as subhuman -- setting them apart and ultimately paving the way for their annihilation.”
T-shirt was never offered for sale
On Monday, The Anti-Defamation League posted an update saying they had accepted an explanation from the Danish company that designed the t-shirt, that the shirt was not meant to invoke the Holocaust and was never offered for sale but nevertheless advertised for sale on the web site of American clothing retailer Urban Outfitters.
The clothing company Wood Wood of Copenhagen assured ADL the logo consists of "patchwork and geometric patterns" and was not a Star of David. The company said the graphic was created for Wood Wood's spring/summer collection but was ultimately removed from the t-shirt design after concerns were raised about its resemblance to the yellow star some European Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
"We are deeply appreciative to Wood Wood for reaching out to us immediately after learning that this particular design had caused so much concern and to assure us that this t-shirt was never offered for sale," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor.
"We are pleased that the company recognized early on the shirt's potentially offensive imagery and changed the design so the six-pointed star-shaped logo would no longer appear."
But as Fox notes, the logo, however, can still be seen on the Wood Wood website’s clothing collections page, for sale on a white T-shirt seen below.
The sale of the shirt, which comes on the heels of National Holocaust Remembrance Day, is just the latest in a long line of offensive products from Urban Outfitters, Fox News reports.
Morrison told that ADL was calling upon Urban Outfitters not only to remove the shirt from the site but also to respond to their several attempts to correspond with the company over what they claim is a history of selling blatantly offensive material.
“Urban Outfitters has a long history of putting out products that are problematic. They have offended Jews, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Irish-Americans and Catholics,” Morrison told Fox. “For St. Patrick’s Day, they released a T-shirt with the words, 'Irish I was Drunk.' They have also released products like 'Ghettoopoly' or a Jesus doll on a cross that could be dressed up in different outfits, including a costume of the devil.”
“They have continuously crossed the line into incivility,” he added. “We have asked them in the past to meet with us so we can discuss these issues, but we have never received a reply. There is a way to be successful without offending or belittling people.”
More about urban outfitters, Holocaust, Star of David, AntiDefamation League