Israeli racist chic comes to New York Fashion Week

Ovadia & Sons’ 2017 Fall collection is inspired by the Israeli army. (Ovadia & Sons)

Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based brothers Shimon and Ariel Ovadia are bringing racist chic to the New York fashion scene with the fall collection of their menswear label Ovadia & Sons.

The collection, presented during New York Fashion Week, was featured in Vogue, and The New York Times gave the twins a glowing write-up.

But the fashion press failed to mention the disturbing symbolism their clothes display, all the more troubling in the context of the surge of Islamophobia and racism fueled by President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees, immigrants and travelers that targets Muslims.

Glamorizing racism

The fashion blog Hypebeast says the Ovadia brothers’ collection was “inspired by the Israeli army” and “draws inspiration from their father’s life abroad – both as a football player and as an Israeli army soldier – filled with modern motifs of military and sport.”

The outfit pictured above caught my eye in particular as it appears to glamorize Israel’s violent anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim racism.

The model is obviously wearing military pants – but look at his shirt too. It bears a close resemblance to the jersey of players for Beitar Jerusalem, the Israeli football club whose fans are notorious for their racism and rampages, habitually accompanied by chants of “Death to the Arabs.”

This is no coincidence: the brothers’ father is Moshe Ovadia, a former Beitar player who immigrated to the US in the 1990s.

A photo from Beitar Jerusalem’s official website shows members of its 2003-2004 squad wearing the team’s characteristic yellow jersey and logo.

In July, Israeli police launched raids against members of Beitar Jerusalem’s notorious fan organization known as La Familia.

As The Guardian reported, “hundreds of officers were involved in raids across the country targeting dozens of individuals associated with the group infamous for its violence, criminal connections, racist attacks and chants.”

They reportedly arrested 56 persons including minors and nine soldiers.

And as the newspaper noted, Beitar remains the only “top flight” Israeli club yet to hire a Palestinian citizen of Israel. In 2015, the club’s coach had said he would not bring on an Arab player in deference to the racism of the fans.

Two years earlier, Beitar fans were involved in racist rampages because the club signed two players from Chechyna who are Muslim.

Cosmetic

Under international pressure, the Israel Football Association has supposedly begun to address Beitar’s racism. But clearly the effort has been cosmetic.

Beitar Jerusalem posted a video on its official Facebook page this week in which fans can be heard chanting slogans including anti-Arab slurs while its players dance on the field in their famous yellow jerseys.

Meanwhile, Beitar has tried to suppress negative coverage by excluding journalists who have reported on its racism problem from its press box.

It is grotesque that the symbols of this racist enterprise should be offered up as trendy fashion items.

In other situations, The New York Times has been more sensitive to the political symbolism of fashion. For instance, it has reported more than once on a particular German clothing brand “popular among Germany’s far-right extremists, whose clothes have been banned from the country’s parliament building, and several German soccer stadiums.”

It is no less troubling that anyone would seek to glamorize or find inspiration from the Israeli army, whose long, notorious and ongoing litany of crimes includes the killing of 11 children per day on average during its 51-day assault on Gaza in the summer of 2014.

Among them were four boys playing football on the beach.

Dena Shunra provided translation.

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So what about the boots? Aren't they symbolic of Israeli racism too?

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