American Eagle Outfitter’s CEO is Columbus, OH native, Jay Schottenstein. He is a pillar of the Orthodox community there, one of the largest American donors to Bibi Netanyahu’s political campaigns, and a major donor to Israeli Jewish settlement projects. But the most disturbing aspect of the causes to which he is devoted, is his support for a pre-Yom Kippur concert calling for “love and unity” to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, which would’ve intentionally excluded female performers. The Israeli producer of the event explained that he didn’t make the decision to ban women. That decision was made by the “Orthodox American donor” funding the event. That is, Jay Schottenstein.
Israel has become an increasingly racist, homophobic, misogynist and intolerant society. The IDF has, in some instances, refused to allow female choirs to perform lest Orthodox male soldiers take offense at hearing the female voice which, according to some, unnecessarily tempts a man to wicked thoughts. This is similar to the reason Schottenstein wanted no women performing in Rabin Square.
As Haaretz was planning to publish a story about the event, the Tel Aviv municipality, defended its offer of Rabin Square by claiming that the use of the space for a men-only concert was somehow a decision that exemplified “democratic values.” The World Zionist Federation, the main sponsor of the event also stood by it. But after the report was published, the producer offered to recruit women to perform. But who would do so under the circumstances. The municipality and WZF both backed down and refused to sponsor the concert.
The event will go forward. But it will be dedicated to Selichot, the traditional all-night study session just before Yom Kippur. Given that this holiday is supposed to induce reflection and repentance in those who observe it, one wonders whether Schottenstein will feel he has anything to repent.
Schottenstein’s family foundation donates six-figure gifts to pro-settler charities like the Central Fund for Israel. It gave $300,000 in 2014 according to the Foundation IRS 990 report. It also gave $250,000 to the Ir David Foundation in the same year. It funds archaeological projects designed to support the historical claim of Jews to the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem and to eliminate a Palestinian presence there. Israeli archaeology has always played an important role in bolstering the Zionist project and demeaning any Palestinian claim to the land. To that end, Schottenstein gave $1-million to the Israel Antiquities Authority for “historical conservation.” He also gave $133,000 to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which administers the Kotel and attempts to exclude non-Orthodox female prayer there. It also supports archaeological excavation which would tend to bolster the effort to rebuild the Holy Temple on the spot currently occupied by the Haram al Sharif. Such projects also incite fierce Muslim opposition, as it threatens to upset the delicate status quo in the sacred sanctum.
Schottenstein has been a follower of the Israeli “wonder rabbi” Yoshiyahu Pinto, who was part of a bizarre plot which enabled ex-U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm, to fleece his followers for campaign donations. Pinto is now serving a prison term in Israel for attempting to bribe a senior police official, who later committed suicide.
As Iris Bar and Conflict Kitchen have pointed out today on Facebook, American Eagle earns hundreds of millions off the backs of the partially-clad female models who take their clothes off to promote its brand. How in heaven could the company’s CEO have thought it was a good idea to fund a public event at which women’s voices would be silenced?
I urge young women everywhere who patronize this chain to think again about who and what they’re supporting when they buy clothing there. Jay Schottenstein’s view of women is little different than those who I can the Israeli Taliban. In Israel’s Mea Shearim this week, the ultra-Orthodox male residents physically assaulted a female news anchor who came there with a film crew to shoot footage for an education project. Though dressed modestly, that didn’t stop the pogromists from attacking her viciously and forcing her to flee.
Let’s not make the mistake of singling out Schottenstein only for his misogyny. It’s obvious to most people including Jews, that there are strains among the Orthodox who are particularly repressive against women. But it goes beyond this. Schottenstein supports Likudism, settlerism and homophobia as well. No enlightened human being should shop in his stores.