Sports apparel giant Nike has rejected the claims that a promotional cartoon it released this week contained subliminal anti-Semitic imagery.
"The logo that appears on the 'cloned' players' uniforms and on the advertising signs in the cartoon 'The Last Game' is a football. Any similarity to another symbol or picture is purely coincidental. We respect all religions and the logo was designed with no intent to offend.”
The futuristic cartoon shows the world of sport being taken over by an evil conglomerate that clones existing soccer stars, but whereas the original stars are all colorful people who take risks in the way they play, their clones are all gray and take no risks at all.
The conglomerate's symbol, worn by the clones, is the pattern formed by the hexagonal patches that are typical of soccer balls – but is also very similar to a Star of David. In one case, at least, it is worn by a basketball player.
MK Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beiteinu), chairman of the Knesset anti-Semitism panel, said, "The new anti-Semitic propaganda is very sly and transmits its anti-Semitic messages in a sophisticated way, an example of which is the Nike ad, which uses Jewish symbols in its sports merchandise to put across anti-Semitic messages.
"Success in combating anti-Semitism," Ohayon continued, "requires a determined, ceaseless battle and a sharp, immediate reaction to every anti-Semitic message, therefore we must respond to every incident and remain alert to this sly propaganda."
The Anti-Defamation League's spokesperson disagreed: “Anyone who thinks this is anti-Semitism is certainly off base. You can put anything in a configuration of six. Just because it appears to look like the Star of David, it does not mean it is,” he said.
According to Maariv/NRG, the head of the Department for Combating Anti-Semitism in the World Zionist Federation, Yaakov Hagoel, has received dozens of angry complaints about the video since its launch two days ago, and he has written a letter to Nike founder Phil Knight, asking him to look at the clip and check if it was, indeed, “laced” wiith anti-Semitic imagery.
"We would be glad to work with you in Nike, in order to understand the true meaning behind these symbols and solve the problem,” Hagoel wrote. “We, in the Department for Combating Anti-Semitism take the complaints we received very seriously, and we will act resolutely in order to find out the complete facts.”
It is interesting to note that the cartoon begins with a depiction of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and is titled "The Last Game," which could be a reference to the Last Supper.
The cartoon has been watched by over 28 million people in just three days.