Ikea’s Israeli branch has apologised for publishing a catalogue that drew heavy criticism for only featuring male models.
The promotional material aimed at haredi customers was the Swedish furniture company’s effort to engage with the haredi community, which accounts for 10 percent of Israel’s population.
Haredi Judaism is a broad spectrum of groups within Orthodox Judaism, all characterised by a distancing from post modern secular culture. Its members are often referred to as strictly Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox.
Haredi magazines and newspapers do not feature images of women. This is in relation to the country’s modesty laws and religious culture. Images of women are typically removed from adverts aimed at the haredi community.
Ikea’s male-only brochure was published in addition to its standard catalogue, but Israeli news website Ynet said it had sparked “confusion, sarcasm and incredulity.”
An Ikea spokesperson in Sweden explained that the company’s brand “stands for equal rights.”
However, she added: “We find that the local publication from Ikea Israel does not live up to this, although the franchisee in Israel takes this seriously.”
The Israeli branch will strive to safeguard that future publications are in line with what Ikea says its brand stands for, they added.
Ikea Israel CEO Shuky Koblenz, said: “We realise that people are upset about this and that the publication does not live up to what Ikea stands for and we apologise for this.
“We will make sure that future publications will reflect what Ikea stands for and at the same time show respect for the haredi community,” he said.
Ikea has three branches in Israel and is plans to open two more in the coming years.