A British Muslim-Jewish organisaton has criticised the former L’Oreal model Amena Khan for denouncing Israel.
The co-founders of the government-funded Nisa-Nashim organisation, Julie Siddiqi and Laura Marks, say that Khan has spread fear, animosity and division.
Last week Khan apologised for criticising Israel in a series of tweets in 2014. She was also forced to step down from a L’Oreal campaign over the tweets which she said she “deeply regrets.”
The tweets described Israel as an “illegal state” and another branded Israel a “child murderer.”
In an open letter Siddiqi and Marks said: “Words can hurt, words can divide, words can offend. And the tweets that you sent a few years back have done just that…
“There are people who question Israel’s policy regarding the Palestinians and those who don’t, and we are lucky enough to live in a country where a multiplicity of opinions is welcome. The language used to do this is important.
“To say that Israel is a country full of ‘child murderers,’ praying for its destruction, and to say ‘it is only a matter of time’ does spread fear, animosity and division…
“Our aim is to bring people together and not to allow those who prefer to drive hatred and division the space to flourish…
“From our own discussions with Israelis and Palestinians we also know that what so often happens among ‘activists’ in the UK and online does not help them in any tangible way. The last thing most of them want to see is their painful and seemingly never-ending conflict played out here too.”
Khan’s tweets, which have now been deleted, came to light after she was chosen by L’Oreal to appear in a promo alongside the likes of pop star Cheryl.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Khan said: “I deeply regret the content of the tweets I made in 2014, and sincerely apologise for the upset and hurt that they have caused. Championing diversity is one of my passions, I don’t discriminate against anyone. I have chosen to delete them as they do not represent the message of harmony that I stand for.”
She continued: “I recently took part in a campaign, which excited me because it celebrated inclusivity. With deep regret, I’ve decided to step down from this campaign because the current conversations surrounding it detract from the positive and inclusive sentiment that it set out to deliver.”
L’Oreal is on the list of companies that the anti-Israel BDS movement recommends to boycott.
Its operations in Israel began in the mid-1990s. Since then, L’Oreal Israel, the company’s subsidiary in Israel, has operated a factory in the Israeli town of Migdal Ha’emek in the Lower Galilee.
The settlement of Migdal Ha’emek was established in 1952 on lands belonging to the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of al-Mujaydil, whose original inhabitants are still denied the right to return to their homes.
Migdal Ha’emek discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel, denying them the right to buy, rent or live on any part of the town, simply because they are non Jews.
L’Oreal also manufactures and exports products containing dead sea minerals, a resource found in The West Bank, which is closed to Palestinians through military and apartheid presence.
And in 2008 L’Oreal awarded a $100,000 “lifetime achievement” award to a scientist at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. The Weizmann institute is a major center for clandestine research and development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons on behalf of Israel’s military establishment with which it has close ties.