Singapore-based design studio, Beyond The Vines (BTV), has been criticised for insensitivity towards the situation in Israel and Gaza following a string of events on social media.
Netizens previously called out BTV co-founder, Daniel Chew for following an Instagram account owned by the Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM). FIRM, which is a non-profit Christian organisation based in Jerusalem, made posts in support of Israel. Since the call out, Chew clarified on his stories that he has unfollowed them.
In a product launch live steam last week, Chew’s wife and co-founder, Rebecca Ting decided to address the situation, stating that Chew had been following FIRM “long before the conflict”. She added that the account used to be about travel and food, but that they had recently started to post political content.
She clarified that Chew unfollowed the account once this was brought to his attention, as “he has no interest in being associated with political content”. She then refuted claims that Chew supported the war, stating that “those who say otherwise are either jumping to conclusions or deliberately trying to mislead others online”.
However, the live stream then sparked criticism against Ting’s handling of the situation. Many comments described Ting as being “tone deaf” and “ignorant”, and said she was seen laughing and talking about BTV’s new product launch right before she addressed the situation, inciting comments against the perceived insensitivity and lack of seriousness.
“A genocide is happening and you are treating it like some inconvenience to your product launch,” one comment read.
“How can you be so giggly yet try to appear apologetic at the same time?” another questioned.
BTV later published an apology statement on 16 November, clarifying that it does not “condone the killings of thousands of innocent Palestinians”. It acknowledged its insensitivity in the way the situation was handled, apologising for causing hurt. “In our rush to respond to you, we made some hurtful mistakes in our choice of words and manner,” the statement said.
“In hindsight, this matter should not have been handled in a brief way but with much more care. We reflected a lack of sensitivity to the gravity of the situation in Gaza,” it added.
Ting and Chew also took responsibility as the founders of the brand for their “insensitivity and mishandling of this matter”.
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