On Nov. 30th, Remez published a post noting that Columbia Sportswear, a Portland-based manufacturer of fairly high-end outerwear, was running ads in The Jerusalem Post touting the value of their jackets “for active work in various regions, including outposts.”
Remez noted that,
If we have any doubt what “outposts” the ad is referring to, see the same ad in Hebrew, which ran on the same day in the Friday Political Supplement of Makor Rishon, a right-wing weekly. The Hebrew translation of “outposts” there is “gvaot” (hills) a euphemism for the illegal outposts populated by the “hilltop youth”, notorious for their violence against Palestinian civilians.
Remez noted, too, that Columbia Sportswear has “an impressive Corporate Social Responsibility portfolio and what appears to be a rather progressive domestic client base”.
Peter Miller, described as a member of the Portland-based organization Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights, took it upon himself to contact Columbia to voice his displeasure. To his surprise, Columbia responded the next day and announced they have decided to immediately discontinue the ad campaign.
Huge kudos to all three of these individuals: Remez, Horowitz, and Miller. And, too, I guess, to Columbia Sportswear, who admitted that their Israeli distributor had made a mistake and indicated in their reply to Miller that they had put in place procedures to ensure that a similar mistake would not be committed in the future.
Some people might consider this to be a trivial issue. But the “normalization” of the whole idea of Israeli settlements and settlement-building– let alone the whole idea of the “outposts” that even the Israeli government considers to be illegal– is by no means trivial to the Palestinians, or to the causes of justice or peacemaking.
I think the bottom line is that when you see a grave wrong being committed in the world, speak your conscience. Your voice– my voice– any of our voices– can indeed make a difference. You never know what a difference your voice, or my voice, can make.
What you do know, is that if you remain silent, then your silence may well be understood as complicity in the wrong that’s being committed.
What a lesson for us all.