Zara’s Head Designer Says She’s Receiving ‘Thousands’ of Death Threats for Comments About Middle East Conflict
Vanessa Perilman, the Jewish head designer of Zara’s women’s department, told The Algemeiner on Friday that she has received a torrent of death threats following her conversation last week with a Palestinian model about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which prompted a condemnation from the Spanish apparel company and calls for a boycott.
On June 9, Perilman, who lives in Spain, engaged in a private conversation on Instagram with Berlin-based Palestinian male model Qaher Harhash about tensions between Israel and the Palestinians. She responded to an Instagram post Harhash uploaded about Hamas and said it contains “lies” about Israel. She added, “Maybe if your people were educated, then they wouldn’t blow up hospitals and schools that Israel helped to pay for in Gaza. Israelis don’t teach children to hate nor throw stones at soldiers as your people do.”
She also told him she was “very upset that you are spreading lies about Israel” and wrote comments in support of the Jewish state. She later publicly apologized in an Instagram story.
Harhash took screenshots of some of their dialogue and shared the images on his Instagram stories, some of which he now has saved as an Instagram highlight. Shortly after, social media users began calling for a boycott of Zara and Perilman’s firing from the company.
Harhash and Perilman have not corresponded since June 9, but Perilman said she continues to get thousands of death threats and is “bullied every day by radical Islamists” on social media, many of whom are targeting her children. “Hope this child gets shot,” one Instagram user wrote in response to a photo of Perilman’s six-month-old daughter, as seen by The Algemeiner. Perilman said another person messaged her saying “they’re going to stab my 6-month-old-daughter in the vagina so hard so that she can’t produce any more ‘Jewish swine.'”
A separate Instagram user messaged Perilman multiple times saying “I wanna kill u. Zionist b***h. Racist and disgusting. Hitler was right. U should be burned … U should die.” Other messages sent to her include “ill stone u to death if i ever came across u,” “hope you die,” “You must be stoned to death,” “You might as well not live” and “you don’t even deserve to be a mom, nazi.”
Perilman told The Algemeiner that she spent six hours on Thursday with local police in Spain, and another three hours on Friday, to seek help about the abuse she has received. Their response, she said, was that they were monitoring the situation and did not find the threats to be dangerous, but rather a case of cyber bullying. Perilman said the authorities “don’t seem to care” about her situation.
She also noted that in the screenshots that Harhash shared last week — which he had partly saved as an Instagram highlight — the model did not note the amicable conclusion of his conversation with Perilman, which ended with the designer giving Harhash her personal phone number and offering her support in his music career. Harhash also left out the offensive accusations he made about Perilman, Israel and Zionism, she said, sharing with The Algemeiner screenshots of their Instagram conversation.
“I don’t want to endorse and talk with imbeciles who don’t know anything about history. Yes I am threatening you. You ignorant inbred. Psychotic I swear,” Harhash told Perilman. “We are against Zionism. We empower Palestinians and Jewish people to fight against Israel. And keep fighting against it.”
When she asked him to remove his comments about her from his Instagram stories due to the death threats she was receiving, he said, “No I will not. You don’t demand anything after you have inconvenienced me.”
“It is sad that you use our resistance as a way to support the offense that is always happening against Palestinians. You are the epitome of Corporate Mass media manipulation,” the model also told Perilman. “Do you understand what many of these people see all their lives? They see Israel bombing and destroying their houses. Should that ever happen to you so you could understand Palestinian suffering? The whole [Israeli] government is a collection of bastards.”
“You should wonder why real Jews are being targeted while right winged Zionists are living their life happily, fulfilling prophecies of destroying the Aqsa mosque,” he added, before claiming that Zionism “brainwashes” Jewish people and that the Israeli government “thrives on the policies that ethnically cleanses the natives.”
Perilman asked Harhash to use his platform to advocate for peace, and he replied, “if you mean peace where we have to live with our occupier, then this isn’t peace. it’s forced coexistence.”
Harhash also said on his Instagram story on June 9 — shortly after ending his conversation with Perilman — that, after she expressed regret and a willingness to learn, she was “someone that I am willing to forgive.” He later told Newsweek that he does not accept her “half assed apology.”