American Apparel (AA) bills itself as a socially conscious producer and vendor of “hip” clothing but there”s nothing progressive or admirable about supporting Israeli apartheid. On AA”s web site it is proudly asserted that AA “is part Israeli, literally.” When a pro-Israel blogger produced a parody “Zionist Apparel” ad, AA”s webmaster thought it was great and added it to their web site.
More importantly, contrary to the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society for “broad boycotts … against Israel,” AA has opened two stores in that country, one in Tel Aviv and another in al-Quds (Jerusalem) with plans to open another in Haifa. As the authors of the 2009 Toronto Declaration noted: “Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and … the city of Jaffa, Palestine”s main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population.” The Tel Aviv store is in the Dizengoff Center, named after Meir Dizengoff, the first mayor of Tel Aviv. Dizengoff, who was born in Imperial Russia, first traveled to Palestine under the auspices of Baron Edmond de Rothschild”s colonization scheme.
While scouting locations for the al-Quds store, an AA employee took time out to mug for the camera with two armed soldiers from North America serving in an Israeli combat unit. The al-Quds store is located in/near the historic Mamilla district, “one of seven mixed or mainly Arab neighborhoods” that was “emptied of its Arab inhabitants” during the 1948 war (Bernard Wasserstein, Divided Jerusalem, p. 163). Today, despite protests and lawsuits a branch of the Museum of Tolerance is being built in an historic Muslim cemetery a couple of hundred meters south of AA”s al-Quds store (see mamillacampaign.org).
The planned location of AA”s third store is Haifa, one of the largest cities of Palestine to be ethnically cleansed during the Nakba–”Out of the 61,000 Palestinian Arabs who used to call Haifa home, only 3,566 Palestinians were allowed to stay.
And here”s more from American Apparel”s own website:
American Apparel is part Israeli, literally. Sylvia Safdie, mother of company founder Dov Charney, is from Israel. She moved with her family to Canada when she was 11 years old. Today she is an internationally known artist based in Montreal. Dov”s uncle, Israeli born Moshe Safdie, is a world known architect with a flourishing architectural practice which includes an office in Jerusalem. He has designed numerous public and private buildings of note in Israel which includes the Museum at Yad Vashem, Mamila Development Project, Ben Gurion Airside Terminal, David”s Village in Jerusalem and many more.
Dov”s mother”s family connection to Israel gives the Israeli stores special meaning for American Apparel.
We currently have a location in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with plans for more. We”re also working on an Israeli Online Store so that our customers there will have the convenience of shopping in shekels. Eventually we also hope to open a store in Haifa, where Dov”s mom grew up.
And then there”s this quote from owner Dov Charney:
We believe in a new American imperialism. We are American imperialists who believe in life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness for every man worldwide, including prisoners in Guantanamo.
Gross! Many of us have had our doubts about American Apparel for years now, due to their sexist ads and dubious labor practices, but this is just the icing on the cake.
Read more about American Apparel (note: some of these may be triggering!)
* American Apparel gives Palestinian student a laptop for winning “History of Zionism” contest (Jewlicious)
* American Apparel Opens in Tel Aviv (Jewlicious, with photo off their staff member posing with IDF while scouting for sites in Jerusalem)
* Porn Stars In My Underwear (SF Gate)
* American Apparel to Be Sold to Investment Firm (NY Times)