CLAIM

Sears sold 'Free Palestine' shirts on its web site.

MOSTLY TRUE

RATING

MOSTLY TRUE

WHAT'S TRUE

Shirts with the phrase "Free Palestine" were available for sale on the Sears web site.

WHAT'S FALSE

The shirts were sold by a third-party retailer.

ORIGIN

The Sears department store chain took down a number of shirts containing pro-Palestinian messages from its web site on 6 June 2017.

The shirts, some of which featured the phrase: “Free Palestine: End Israeli Occupation,” appeared in the “Sears & marketplace” section of the company’s web site, where you can buy products from a variety of retailers: 

Sears did not directly sell the shirts; rather, a third-party retailer, Spreadshirt, sold the shirts through the Sears web site. Spreadshirt allows users to make and sell their own shirt designs. The Palestine shirts prompted the spread of the hashtag #BoycottSears online.

The pro-Israel Jewish advocacy group B’nai B’rith International said in a statement on 6 June that they had contacted Sears CEO Edward S. Lampert to condemn the shirts’ availability. The group’s president Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said in their letter to Lampert:

We are shocked and disappointed by the politicization of the Sears brand in promoting and selling this line of apparel. This ploy is a gross exploitation of the retailer, with a presence in thousands of communities across the country, to promote a political agenda. It is also insidious in its trivialization of the reality on the ground.

When asked about the shirts, the company told The Jerusalem Post they would remove them within 24 hours. A spokesperson said:

Given the feedback we’ve received, we are currently evaluating the items in question to determine appropriate action. We will fix it and ensure this is not repeated.

A Sears spokesperson also sent us a separate statement noting their removal and third-party origin and adding:

That said, we believe we’re being unfairly singled out on this issue given that these same items are available on Amazon, Walmart.com and eBay. It’s very important to note that we serve a broad base of customers around the country and around the world, and employ people around the world, including nearly 200 in Israel.

As of press time, a search for “Palestine” on the Sears web site does not produce listings for the shirts. While Amazon and eBay have third-party Palestine shirts for sale resembling the ones Sears removed, the only Palestinian-related shirts we found on Walmart’s web site are cycling jerseys.

Sources:

CBS Los Angeles. “Calls For #BoycottSears Return Over ‘Free Palestine’ Shirts.” 6 June 2017.

Jerusalem Post. “Sears To Pull ‘Free Palestine’ Clothing From Site Amid Controversy.” 7 June 2017.

B’nai B’rith International. “B’nai B’rith “Shocked And Disappointed” Sears Sells “Free Palestine” Shirts.” 6 June 2017.