By Jennifer Lipman
July 28, 2011
It was with a heavy heart that I wrote this story – about the curious absence of Israel from Pull and Bear's global list.
I like the chain and shop there sporadically; in fact, the very reason I noticed the board was because I was buying a pair of Pull and Bear jeans (grey, a £20 bargain, since you ask).
I'm not going to stop shopping there; I don't believe in boycotts and don't consider it a step in the right direction to fight ignorance with the monetary equivalent of stamping your feet.
Nor do I think Pull and Bear have a problem with Israel; if they did then they clearly wouldn't have 22 stores there, they'd boycott it. But that's the point.
They don't have a problem with Israel – they just don't want the people who do have a problem with Israel to know.
It's not worth upsetting the Israel-bashers; not when you've got stores in almost every corner of the Arab world. One only has to look to the protests outside Ahava to know that politics is something the sensible business-owner would wish to avoid on the high street.
If people were openly bashing businesses with links to Bahrain, or Saudi Arabia, perhaps they wouldn't feature on Pull and Bear's list. But they're not, so they do.
So Pull and Bear chose the quiet life (they say it was simply an oversight, but the numbers – Israel is one of the most Pull and Bear-heavy countries around - suggest otherwise). I don't blame them for that, but at the same time it's this kind of subtle distancing from Israel that worries me.
Don't talk about Israel, don't associate yourself. Keep any links to it under the radar, keep your head down. Then, when everyone's bashing it, you'll be fine.
Pull and Bear are quite happy to sell to Israelis and quite happy to make money from its citizens. But apparently, they don't want anyone to know. All the benefits; none of the costs.
As a way to delegitimise Israel, this may not be as bad as the boycotters with their spurious and unsubstantiated claims.
But it's not good either. Being a bystander to a crime might not be the same as being the perpetrator, but it doesn't show one in a great light either.
The fact that shops, or singers, or anyone of us, feel the need to hide a connection to Israel is a worrying trend.