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Pressure mounts on Swedish clothing chain that finds Israel vogue

Israel/Palestine
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The boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement is turning up the heat on Swedish clothing store H&M. A new H&M store opened in Tel Aviv March 11 to hundreds of Israeli shoppers, Haaretz reported.

H&M plans to open seven stores in total in Israel, with the next store opening on March 16 in Jerusalem. Protests in Sweden, Denmark, and England occurred on March 11.

Dozens of BDS and Palestine solidarity groups from countries around the world have endorsed the call to boycott H&M.

The “management of H&M was deeply disturbed” by the boycott activities, according to a Facebook message to supporters written by Johanna Wallin, a Palestine solidarity activist. “Among others, the former CEO and current Chairman of the H&M Board of Directors, Mr. Stefan Persson and H&M’s Head of Communications contacted us and expressed their concern.”

BDS organizers are calling for another day of action targeting H&M next Tuesday, when the store will open in Jerusalem.

Here’s a statement from the organizers:

On the 11th of March the Swedish clothes and fashion store H&M is opening its first out of seven planned stores in Israel.

The familiar red H&M sign will be visible in the Azriel Mall in Tel Aviv and, a few days later, in the Malcha shopping centre in Jerusalem, a city gradually cleansed of its Palestinian population to be replaced by Jewish-Israeli settlements.
 

H&M is thus investing in Israel at the same time as the UN Goldstone commission and international organizations that H&M is cooperating with, such as UNICEF and the UN, report about Israel’s crimes against international law and human rights.

About a year ago several Swedish organizations gave attention to H&M’s plans to establish in Israel and demanded an announcement from H&M. The management denounced the rumors but refused to give a written statement. Today the establishment has been made public. “We believe that our business idea will work well in Israel. Through our franchise partner we will have access to many years of experience and networks in Israel,” says Rolf Eriksen, CEO at H&M.

Dror Feiler, chairperson of European Jews for a Just Peace says that H&M’s choice of time for its establishment in Israel is particularly distasteful, coming at a time when Israel’s crimes are raised in the Goldstone report and are being condemned by other international organizations. “H&M contributes to a shift of focus from Israel’s war crimes to that of fashion, investments and commerce,” says Dror Feiler. 

Alex Kane
About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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