Swedish furniture mega-retailer IKEA, which has three outlets in Israel, apologized on Saturday for a specialized catalog it had issued which was aimed at Israel’s Haredi community and therefore omitted women’s images. Haredi publications are devoid of women’s images, including pictures of the most conservatively dressed women, for a variety of traditional reasons.
IKEA stated that the catalog was produced by its Israeli branch, and not by the home office in Sweden. An IKEA spokeswoman said the catalog “is not something that has gone through us,” adding “we have been very clear that this is not what the IKEA brand stands for.”
Swedish news agency TT late Friday quoted IKEA as saying its Israeli franchise “had tried to reach a consumer group” and made “an error.”
IKEA Israel issued a statement saying, “The IKEA catalog which is distributed in 1.7 million copies in Israel is identical to the catalog in all the countries of the world. As part of a local publication, IKEA distributed a catalog for the Haredi sector which matches its lifestyle and traditions. We realize that some have been offended by the pictures in this catalog and we are sorry about it. In the future we will make sure that our publications will be appropriate for everyone and be considerate of all the social sectors, who are our customers.”
It remains to be revealed who in Israel is so extremely sensitive to the plight of Haredi women that a catalog showing furniture without women standing next to it is offensive to them. At the same time, this expression of PC might launch a Haredi attack on the plethora of commercial publications which use women unabashedly as sex objects in order to sell anything from cars to lemonade.