- Jeff Bezos has been criticized for allowing sales of pro-Palestinian merchandise on Amazon.
- Charles D. Lavine, a New York state legislator, has demanded action from Bezos to remove these items.
- The slogan featured on merchandise is linked to Hamas and is seen by some as a call for the destruction of Israel.
Amazon’s decision to sell merchandise featuring the slogan “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” has sparked outrage, leading to a direct confrontation between CEO Jeff Bezos and New York state legislator Charles D. Lavine.
Lavine implored Bezos in no uncertain terms, stating, “to use your position of authority to direct that Amazon NOT be involved in the sale or distribution of these death glorifying items.”
Lavine’s letter drew a disturbing parallel, suggesting that selling such slogans is equivalent to selling items that might as well bear the inscription “Kill all Jews.”
He expressed a belief that this would horrify Amazon’s shareholders and customers, calling for immediate action.
The issue was catapulted into the spotlight after a Newsweek report that Amazon lists clothing with the slogan, even after an attack on Israel that resulted in significant loss of life.
Despite the backlash, an Amazon spokesperson said, “the products do not contravene our policies,” which are designed to prevent the sale of items that promote or glorify hate and intolerance.
The contentious slogan has been a fixture at pro-Palestinian rallies and is problematic due to its implication of the eradication of the Israeli state, which is signified by the geographic markers of the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a chant that has been adopted by Hamas, a militant group backed by Iran, following its inception in the 1980s.
The Anti-Defamation League has denounced the slogan as antisemitic, explaining that it “den[ies] the Jewish right to self-determination, including through the removal of Jews from their ancestral homeland.” The usage of the slogan, according to the ADL, can make Jews “feel unsafe and ostracized.”
The chant’s status as hate speech is debated, with the London Metropolitan Police stating it could be unlawful in certain contexts, while Suella Braverman, the U.K. Home Secretary, stated on X, “To hear it shouted in public causes alarm not just to Jews but to all decent people.”
Lavine’s letter was unequivocal, condemning the October 7 acts of violence as “primitive acts of murder and viciousness that are at the very heart of the ‘from the river to the sea’ movement.”
Amid Amazon’s policy against selling hateful or intolerant content, the company acknowledges the subjectivity of offense, stating, “We understand that what one person considers offensive may not necessarily be offensive to others and that views can change over time.”
The slogan has garnered increased attention as pro-Palestinian protests have intensified worldwide. Reports by AP cite significant Palestinian fatalities in Gaza, further stoking tensions.
Recently, an incident at George Washington University, where the slogan was projected onto a university building, was deemed “horrifying” and “glorifying Hamas terrorists” by StopAntisemitism.org.
The university responded by enforcing its policies, stating that the projections “in no way reflect the views of the university.” As of now, Amazon remains silent in the wake of this growing controversy.
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