Bluey, the beloved canine character from the animated series of the same name born in Australia and popular worldwide, including in Israel, has found herself at the center of a political and fashion storm in the past week due to the Israel-Hamas war.
Pro-Palestinian activists in Australia fashioned a T-shirt featuring the Heeler family which Bluey is a part of, holding a sign with the slogan "From River to Sea, Palestine Will Be Free" - an antisemitic slogan calling for the elimination of Israel. Alongside Palestinian flags, Bluey is depicted wearing a keffiyeh around her neck, a Muslim head covering that has experienced a resurgence since the war began.
The shirt in question is a "bootleg," meaning it is not an official product approved by the series but one that was independently created by the pro-Palestinian organization Free Palestine Printing — which sold it to collecting donations for Gaza residents.
On Monday, the shirt was removed from the organization’s page after a complaint made by BBC Studios, the television show’s rights holders. "This is an unlicensed seller, and counterfeit product. BBC Studios strongly disapprove of any unauthorized use of Bluey and our brand protection team is taking appropriate action,” a BBC spokesperson told The Australian news outlet.
According to the outlet, Australia’s Jewish community accused the organization of attempting to create a rift between Jewish and non-Jewish children in the country. " These agents of division are corrupting our children's hearts and minds and are exploiting a much-loved Australian children's icon that represents kindness, fun, and innocence, for their warped, ugly cause," said Dvir Abramovich, the chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission in Australia.
“Jewish parents are already concerned about their children's safety, and in a climate of escalating anti-Semitism and a growing rhetoric of intolerance and radicalization, such malevolent methods only stoke the fires of divisiveness, and foment hostility against one group,” he added.
Bluey’s bootleg shirt is another addition to a series of shirts, clothing items, and accessories created in the past three months in relation to the war in Gaza, featuring slogans and prints with calls for the destruction of Israel and support for Palestinians. These were sold on websites such as Amazon, Etsy, and others, some of which were removed following customer complaints.
For example, the online community was outraged after actress Jennifer Garner and her 18-year-old daughter Violet wore a sweatshirt with an image of the Israeli flag in the pattern of a watermelon made by the Wear The Peace brand during a shopping trip. The shirt is a visual representation chosen for its colors to symbolize the Palestine flag.