According to screenshots of private messages shared by model Qaher Harhash, Vanessa Perilman, Zara’s head designer for its women’s department, sent him a Direct Message on Instagram in which she criticised his advocacy for people living in Gaza.
In the messages, attributed to Perilman, it said: “Maybe if your people were educated then they wouldn’t blow up the hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza.
“The people in my industry know the truth about Israel and Palestine and I will NEVER stop defending Israel and people like you come and go in the end. Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”
Harhash subsequently shared screenshots of the messages on his Instagram Stories, which were rapidly shared, and Perilman’s alleged comments were criticised.
Perilman’s Instagram account has since been deleted.
Commenting on the messages in an interview with NBC News, Harhash explained how he was shocked to learn that Perilman worked in a high-powered role at Zara.
“I went into their profile, and I saw that it said she’s the senior women’s designer at Zara,” he said.
“So I was like, I backed up, I thought to myself, like first of all, I just don’t want to mess with, with anyone you know.”
Many social media users responded to the comments by calling for shoppers to boycott Zara, with the hashtag “#boycottzara” trending on Twitter.
One user addressed the retailer on Instagram by writing: “Your head designer is entitled to her political opinion. However, this is vile anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric.”
“Companies like yours only seem to act when it hurts your bottom line…”
In a statement sent to The Independent, Inditex, the company that owns Zara, said it “does not accept any lack of respect to any culture, religion, country, race or belief.”
The statement continued: “Zara is a diverse company and we shall never tolerate discrimination of any kind,” the company continued. “We condemn these comments that do not reflect our core values of respect for one another, and we regret the offense that they have caused.”
The Independent has been unable to contact Perilman for comment.