Swedish fashion chain H&M opened its first store in Israel on Thursday morning, but not everyone seems to be happy about it. The Swedish organization for solidarity with the Palestinians and the Palestinian association in Stockholm have called for a boycott H&M over its decision to open six more stores in Israel and urged the company to postpone the opening until Israel "respects international law."
According to a statement issued by the organizations, "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."
About a year ago, several Swedish organizations appealed to the chain following reports that it panned to open stores in Israel and demanded an official announcement. According to the organizations, the management "denounced the rumors but refused to give a written statement."
Now, the organizations said in the statement, H&M is 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."
Dror Feiler, chairperson of European Jews for a Just Peace said that H&M’s choice of time for entering the Israeli market was "particularly distasteful, coming at a time when Israel’s crimes are raised in the Goldstone Report and are being condemned by other international organizations."
He added that “H&M contributes to a shift of focus from Israel’s war crimes to that of fashion, investments and commerce."
The organizations demanded that H&M postpone the opening of its stores in Israel until the Jewish state "respects international law in line with the UN resolutions." They stated that while H&M opened its first store in Israel, H&M customers in Sweden and around Europe would be made aware of the company’s lack of good judgment and double standards.