Marks & Spencer apologised after posting a picture from its Christmas advert showing red and green paper hats in a burning fireplace that were compared to a Palestinian flag.
The company, one of the best-known names in British business, apologised for “any unintentional hurt caused” after sharing the image on Instagram.
Marks & Spencer, which started life in 1884 when Jewish immigrant Michael Marks came to the north of England, faced some criticism on social media over claims it was making a political statement.
The retailer deleted the Instagram post, posting a statement on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, saying: “Today we shared an outtake image from our Christmas clothing and home advert, which was recorded in August, before the conflict broke out between Israel and Hamas.”
“It showed traditional, festive coloured red, green and silver Christmas paper party hats in a fire grate.”
“While the intent was to playfully show that some people just don’t enjoy wearing paper Christmas hats over the festive season, we have removed the post following feedback and we apologise for any unintentional hurt caused.”
Global companies are trying to avoid getting entangled in conflict between Israel and Hamas as the fighting has prompted a rise in religious hate crimes.
McDonald’s franchises in some Muslim countries distanced themselves from a move by the company’s Israeli restaurants last month to give free meals to the Israeli military.