Calls to boycott Zara following designer's anti-Palestinian tirade

Calls to boycott Zara following designer's anti-Palestinian tirade
Vanessa Perilman, the head designer of Zara's women's department, allegedly made the controversial comments in a message to a Palestinian model.
2 min read
13 June, 2021
Zara designer Vanessa Perilman also made comments about model Qaher Harhash's religion [Getty]

Fast-fashion giant Zara is facing calls for boycott after a designer for the Spanish brand was caught in an anti-Palestinian tirade.

Vanessa Perilman, the head designer for the retailer's women's department, allegedly made the controversial comments in a message responding to pro-Palestine posts by a model who later shared Perilman's message on Instagram.

"Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn't blow up hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza," Perilman allegedly wrote to Qaher Harhash, a Palestinian model from occupied east Jerusalem.

Several healthcare and education facilities were hit by Israeli airstrikes last month during a brutal bombing campaign that killed more than 250 Palestinians, including 67 children in the besieged Gaza Strip.

"Israelis don't teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do," Perilman allegedly wrote.

"Also I think its funnny [sic] that your [sic] a model because in reality that is against what the Muslim faith believes in and if you were to come out of the closet in any Muslim country you would be stoned to death," she allegedly went on to say, according to the screenshot shared by Harhash.

Perilman has since deleted her Instagram account and other social media pages amid a widespread backlash that has also seen pro-Palestinian advocates complain to Zara.

"It was obvious she apologised because she felt threatened by people messaging her and calling out her ignorance," Harhash wrote on Instagram on Sunday. "So far Vanessa hasn't been fired."

The Jerusalem-born model went on to say the Spanish high-street brand had asked him to share an apology written by Perilman, which he declined to do.

"If Zara wants to make a statement with me, the statement needs to say that they stand with indigenous people and are against what is happening in Chinese concentration camps in Xinjiang. They also need to address... Islamophobia," Harhash continued.

"When certain fashion designers said anti-Semitic things, they were fired from their jobs," he added.

The model himself has called on followers to boycott the brand using the hashtag #BoycottZara.

Zara has yet to publicly comment on the controversy, although social media users have shared screenshots of an emailed statement from the retailer claiming the "misunderstanding was clarified and closed".