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Hawking the Star of David - is a Fashion Statement?

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Hawking the Star of David - is a Fashion Statement?

Urban Outfitters has introduced a new tee shirt whose pocket patch and coloring are dangerously close to a symbol of horrific suffering for the Jewish people. What on earth were they thinking?

Last Thursday was just Yom HaShoah. Yom HaShoah, which is also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorates the lives and heroism of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945.

As explained on the website,

Every year Jews around the world remember the tragic events of the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah. Also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, there is no set way to observe this holiday and every Jewish community has its own traditions. Some hold memorial services where poetry is read and prayers are offered. Others light candles in honor of the dead, perhaps at their local Holocaust memorial. In Israel, a siren sounds at 10AM on Yom HaShoah. While the alarm sounds, everyone stands and remembers those who fell victim to the Nazi regime.

Major Israeli highway when the siren sounds for Yom HaShoah

In Israel people stop and stand in silence for two minutes, whether walking or even driving, the country comes to a standstill in honor of the 6 million.

This all happens due to a saying, “Never Forget, Never Again!”

Today President Obama will be giving a speech and commemorate the Holocaust at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

A White House statement last Tuesday stated,

“He will give remarks commemorating the Holocaust and discuss how the United States is honoring the pledge of ‘Never again’ by developing a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to mass atrocities.”

To even attempt to explain the meaning of Yom HaShoah would be impossible in this article due to space limitations. Last Thursday night on my radio show “America Akbar” I spent one full hour discussing the subject with Rabbi Aryel Nachman of ‘The House Of Seven Beggars Synagogue’.

So, with Yom HaShoah fresh in my mind I noticed an article in titled,

“ADL slams Urban Outfitters over 'Holocaust' t-shirt”

The article explained,

The Anti-Defamation League has accused Urban Outfitters of selling a t-shirt that resembles the yellow Star of David worn by Jews during the Holocaust.

The clothing outlet's website says the stitched patch detailing comes from Danish label "Wood Wood", hence the style name "Wood Wood Kellog Tee."

Wood Wood, what, what?

First things first, I went to the ADL website and found a link on their homepage to the press release,

Urban Outfitters Product Represents New Low

Philadelphia, PA, April 19, 2012…Today the Anti-Defamation League issued a strongly-worded letter of condemnation to Urban Outfitters charging that one of its products "…represents a new low."

Barry Morrison, ADL Regional Director, wrote to Richard Hayne, Chairman, President and CEO of Urban Outfitters, about a t-shirt offered by the company which is associated with the yellow Star of David symbol Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Europe.  Morrison said, "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 League has communicated with Urban Outfitters on numerous occasions over the years regarding a variety of projects that have, "tread on the feelings and reinforced stereotypes of various groups—Christians, blacks, and Irish, Mexican, and Jewish-Americans…the list goes on."  The League also demanded an immediate apology from the company asking that the product no longer be sold and urging it to meet with League representatives.

Seems pretty cut and dry, so next I went to the Urban Outfitters website to see this shirt.

I decided to look into this “Wood Wood” fashion company. Maybe I was being harsh, I see the problem here, but perhaps the star is their logo or significant to the company in some way.

The Wood Wood official website was of no help whatsoever. I looked through thousands of pictures. Shirts, jackets, pants, shoes, socks, dresses and even some items I wouldn’t know what to call. Nowhere did I find a star of any sort on any of their items.

With a little more searching I came upon a website that gave me some more insight; explained the company Wood Wood,

Created in 2002 by three former students of the Royal Design School of Denmark, Wood Wood started as a limited t-shirt label and a store selling sneakers, skateboards, collector toys and art books in Copenhagen. After the success of their private line and shop, the three Danes expanded south to Berlin, opening their unique boutique in the heart of Mitte.

As one of Berlin’s most beloved streetwear stores, Wood Wood signifies urban fashion from Denmark but has branched into a holder of cool kicks and hoodies universally.

Get clothes by their figurehead, also known as drummer Henrik Vibskov, the limited Nike Edition or custom made silk ties, scarfs and bow-ties by Edson.

Now that I had found out a little more background on Wood Wood, I still could find no information as to how this ‘star’ was in anyway associated with Wood Wood. According to the Urban Outfitters website listed under ‘Product Details’ it states,

* Handcrafted tee with stitched patch detailing from Danish label Wood Wood

* Constructed in soft nubby cotton jersey

* Patch pocket at the chest

As far as I can ascertain, the only connection to Wood Wood is that they designed the star. Why does Urban Outfitters offer this only in one color and why is the one color a drab yellow?

I have said before that I don’t believe in coincidences, and this one is hard to ignore.

A six pointed star. Available only in yellow and the yellow no less that is the same yellow that every Jew was forced to wear during the Holocaust. On the right side of the shirt over the pocket.

Jewish boy wearing compulsory Yellow star in Prague

Maybe this is a stretch, maybe I am seeing things others don’t, but according to the comments on the Urban Outfitters website I am not the only one by any means,

Rene Boni •

I am the daughter of two Holocaust Survivors. WTF is wrong with Urban Outfitters? You must be totally insane or just not know history. This is so mindblowingly offensive.

Ruth Don Shevlin •

I just "reviewed" the item for them. Disgusting and so stupid.

Linda R Moskowitz •

WTF is right !!! I also am a child of two holocaust survivors -A Shanda !!!!

Lindsey Else

The people who have respect want this taken down. This is so offensive. Just when I thought Urban Outfitters couldn't be any more stupid/ignorant this comes along. I am never stepping foot in one of these stores again.

Ryan Roslyn •

what were they thinking? aside from mocking the greatest tragedy in world history, who can wear it? neo-nazis are normally trailer park trash who can't afford toilet paper - how are they going to come up with $100?

Sue Cornell

stop, just stop. just...stop. take it off the website and don't sell it in your stores. just stop.

Sophie Hopkins •

Oh my god, this is so insensitive and horrifying. Makes me want to boycott your company!

Jessica Hoffman •

horrifying. urban outfitters' complete lack of sensitivity to Jews is horrifying. For goodness sake, it was Yom HaShoah, the day of remembering the Holocaust, this week! this store should remove this shirt from their line.

Guess I’m not reading into this. I find the fact that this design is from a Danish company a bit unusual for one very simple reason.

I remember a story I had learned when I visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. The story can be found on their website, in part it explains,

Approximately 7,800 Jews lived in Denmark before World War II. The German army occupied Denmark on April 9, 1940. The Danes did not challenge German control, so the Germans agreed to let them continue running their government and army independently. Included in the agreement was a clause calling for the protection of the Danish Jews, a point that the Danes stubbornly insisted upon. Thus, for the next few years, the status of the Jews did not change.

However, by the spring of 1943, the situation deteriorated. Encouraged by the victories of the Allied forces against the Germans, Danish resistance groups increased their activities. This caused tension between the Danes and the Germans, leading the Germans to rethink the status of the Danish Jews.

In late August 1943, after refusing to comply with the Germans' new demands regarding the Jews, the Danish government resigned in late August 1943. Werner Best, the German minister in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, decided conditions had ripened for a proposal to the Nazi leadership in Berlin that Danish Jews be deported. He subsequently developed second thoughts, for fear that his own relationship with the Danes be harmed. Despite this, on the eve of October 1-2, 1943, German police commenced arresting Jews.

However, several German sources, chief among them the German legation's attache for shipping affairs, Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz, leaked this information to Danish groups, who immediately warned the Jews. The Danes – reacting spontaneously and humanely – helped Jews reach the beach, and Danish fisherman took them to Sweden aboard their boats. The Swedish government announced that it would accept all refugees from Denmark, and the Danish resistance organized the escape of the remaining Jews.

Within 3 weeks, 7,200 Jews and about 700 of their non-Jewish relatives were taken to Sweden.

The bottom line was this, some 120 Danish Jews died during the Holocaust, either in Theresienstadt or during the flight from Denmark. This relatively small number represents one of the highest Jewish survival rates for any German-occupied European country.

Perhaps the ‘Wood Wood’ company should look at their roots, I am sure the parents and grandparents of those who run this company would be ashamed at this ‘star design’ or the fact that it is on a yellow shirt.

Perception is reality.  The reality is that there are those of us who find this shirt to be extremely offensive.

Perhaps Urban Outfitters should realize this before it hits their bottom line, our perception may become a boycott and a lack of sales will be their reality.

Comments (3)
  • R.A.N.  - The Larger Picture

    This is just one more way to diminish everything related to the Shoah (Holocaust). It has become the means to the ends of the Holocaust deniers. If you cannot deny it, then diminish it. The use of the term "Holocaust" has been co-opted and applied to incidents that could not possibly compare to the destruction of 2/3rds of European Jews in such a horrific manner, but the world still uses the term and diminishes the horrors. And it goes like this: "The Holocaust is not unique, look at all the other holocausts that have happened." The shirt is not a fashion statement, it is another way to diminish the Magen David (Star of David) that Jews were forced to wear; as if to say "What was so bad about having to wear the star? We wear it as a fashion statement." So, what will be the next act to diminish the Holocaust? Will it now become fashionable to have a number tattooed on the arm? It is these kinds of acts that will ensure that such a thing can happen again.

  • sibyl

    I had a knee jerk response. But, it wouldn't do any good to say how I feel about this. Its allready generating the response they want.
    I ask myself what motivated them to do it. Where they got the hatred towards their fellow man. And, I think by now we know where its coming from. I'm left with only one question.

    What's next?

  • EMA  - What are they thinking?

    Does not the outcry only enforce their sales?

    Do folks actually pay $100 for a tee?

    I'd be curious to see if our "boycott" of this item and any sales out of Urban Outfitters affects them in any way.

    Let us hope so and once again, Let us Never Forget!

    Shame on Urban Outfitters!!!!

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