Swastika thong: yours to buy online

Website removes some anti-Israel slogans, but hundreds remain

By Robyn Rosen, April 8, 2011
A mug with the offensive logo and slogan have now been withdrawn from sale

A mug with the offensive logo and slogan have now been withdrawn from sale

An online retailer has removed a range of products, including underwear and baby clothes emblazoned with an image of a swastika superimposed on a star of David, after a complaint from the JC.

CafePress, has removed the products, which had been sold since 2009 as part of the True Nazis range and carry the slogan, 'What Is The Different?' (sic).

But it still offers scores of other offensive items.

The range included T-shirts, (for dogs and humans), underwear, mugs, bags, teddy bears, bibs and even a babygro.

CafePress, which is used by suppliers who upload products through an automated online system, is based in California but with a UK website, and has 11 million unique visits per month looking at more than 250 million

Artist James Holz, 33, a member of North Western Reform Synagogue, in north London, used to sell T-shirts with his artwork on the site and was browsing it last week when he came across the products.

"I was shocked to see such a central Jewish symbol juxtaposed with a swastika as I felt it was suggesting that the entire Jewish people are Nazis," he said.

"I didn't think it was appropriate for this kind of hateful message to be on an otherwise respectable website. I instantly sent an email to CafePress customer services." But he was told by a spokesman that the items would not be removed because: "While we don't endorse any particular position, we respect the right of individuals to express their own opinions."

Mr Holz, from Golders Green, said: "The response was particularly shocking as they seemed to dismiss my complaint.

"They seemed to imply that having this kind of material on their site is just an expression of free speech and therefore acceptable, but I am sure that they must exercise some kind of content control as, for example, swear words are not allowed on the site."

But following a complaint by the JC on Wednesday, the range of 48 products was removed.

Marc Cowlin, the site's marketing director, said: "While we do have strict policies on what is acceptable and what is not, at times questionable designs can either slip through the cracks and make it to the live website, or fall within a grey area of acceptability."

The site still offers merchandise with the slogans: "Stop Nazionism", "End the Israeli Holocaust" and "Boycott the terrorist state of Israel".

Mark Gardner, from the Community Security Trust, said: "The problem with user-generated content, whether on YouTube, newspaper comment threads or in this instance on T-shirts and babygros, is of course that somebody needs to take responsibility for saying what is acceptable and what is hateful and threatening.

"We welcome this belated decision to remove this material but it is likely that further offensive material remains, and will do so in the future."

Last updated: 3:49pm, April 8 2011