Update: Nike's website will still be available in Israel and they will be selling products directly to consumers. This move comes as the sneaker giant is moving away from distribution models across the board.
Athletic footwear giant Nike announced on Sunday that they will no longer be working directly with retailers in Israel as of May 31, 2022.
"Following a comprehensive review performed by the company and considering the changing marketplace, it has been decided that the continuation of the business relationship between you and the company does no longer match the company’s policy and goals," read a letter received by Israeli sporting good stores from Nike.
According to the Jerusalem Post, "Nike believes it can earn much higher profits and control its premium product experience by managing the entire sales process itself. The company also ended its relationship with Amazon in 2019."
"Nonetheless, stores in Israel say the move would harm their abilities to remain profitable. Some may opt for parallel imports, receiving Nike products from independent suppliers, but that would raise prices."
Despite Nike’s statement that the decision stems from the belief that they can increase profits by removing its products, some believe that this is actually a boycott of the Jewish state under the guise of profit gain. If so, the idea may have originated from Ben and Jerry’s decision to boycott Israel in July, which could have influenced other companies to do the same.
If Nike's decision was made in order to join the antisemitic Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement to delegitimize Israel, hiding the motive would likely be as a result of the sneaker company attempting to avoid the backlash that followed the Ben and Jerry’s decision. After the boycott was announced, states such as Florida made efforts to restrict business dealings with the ice cream maker. Franchises in Jewish neighborhoods suffered losses in profits after the announcement, and Jewish stores stopped carrying the brand.
Nike would likely not want to experience the same loss from states such as Florida, Texas and 33 others that have laws prohibited doing business with companies that boycott the Jewish state.
Nike has recently gone on a pronounced "woke" tack, as far as its international image goes. They famously, back in Jan. 2021, announced that they would no longer contribute to any politician who publicly supports ex-President Donald Trump.
The sporting goods giant initially supported the Chinese government, then walked it back, deciding not to source raw materials such as cotton from China's Xinjiang region, where lots of evidence exists that such cotton is produced by slave labor by the local Uighur population.
Jonah Hoffman contributed to this article.