Fashion giant Zara is under fire after its head women designer Vanessa Perilman allegedly sent hate messages to Qaher Harhash, a Palestinian model, via Instagram.
Harhash, who regularly posts pro-Palestinian content on the social media platform, reportedly received direct messages from Perilman in response to her posts last week.
A screenshot of Perilman’s alleged message to Harhash read: “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza. Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”
The designer’s comments on Harhash’s posts come shortly after a deadly 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group in command of Gaza.
According to official reports, more than 200 people, including 65 children, died when the Israel Defense Forces carried out a devastating aerial bombardment in Gaza. At least 12 Israelis were killed when Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, even though most of them were intercepted by its Iron Dome.
In response to the comments she received after the screenshots came to light, Perilman said: “I will NEVER stop defending Israel.”
She also stated that Harhash was posting “bullsh*t circus media.” Harhash then shared more screenshots of messages from the designer in which she questioned why the model had posted the screenshots to her Instagram stories, claiming that she had received threats against her children.
“I’m sorry if this fight started something more than it should have, but now it’s getting out of control,” Perilman wrote.
“I am literally receiving death threats against my children,” she said, adding that she felt “terrible and “so bad.” Perilman also expressed: “This is not who I am. I am so so sorry. I really hope you can forgive me.”
Vanessa Perilman, who deleted her Instagram account, has turned down requests for comments from the media.
Harhash’s posts sparked calls from online users requesting Zara to take disciplinary action against Perilman and a boycott of the company. On Wednesday, a Zara spokesman sent CNN a statement saying.
“Zara does not accept any lack of respect to any culture, religion, country, race or belief. Zara is a diverse company and we shall never tolerate discrimination of any kind,” it read.
“We condemn these comments that do not reflect our core values of respect for one another, and we regret the offense that they have caused. As a diverse and multicultural company, we are committed to ensuring an equitable and inclusive environment as part of our company values.”