One can purchase just about anything on Amazon: furniture, clothing, electronics … and neo-Nazi toys.
Among the millions of items for sale on the online retailing giant’s website are various Nazi action figures, including a figure of Adolf Hitler giving the Nazi salute and a child wearing a Hitler Youth uniform pointing a rifle.
The items are on sale from individual sellers in Asia through Amazon Marketplace.
Ezriel Rovt, a Midwood resident and a professor of marketing at Touro College on Avenue J, has been fighting a lonely battle for nearly a year to pressure Amazon to remove these items, which may violate Amazon’s own policy on selling offensive items.
Rovt was searching for a toy for his young son last Chanukah; among the suggested items that came up were a toy with Nazi-themed design. Rovt searched further and found other Nazi-themed toys and gadgets as well.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Rovt tells Hamodia. “Amazon is not some small site that sells shady things; this is a publicly traded company, the largest retailer in the world.”
Rovt contacted Amazon a number of times about this issue, but his calls and emails were largely ignored. He says that after many delays Amazon finally removed one or two specific items that he pointed out, but that the company never made a serious attempt to remove all Nazi-themed items from the site.
“I understand if generally Amazon does not want to take sides in political disputes, but Hitler is different,” says Rovt. “Whereas some of history’s murderers, such as communist leaders like Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, are defended by some misguided leftists, Hitler is one figure whom nobody defends — except neo-Nazis.”
Amazon’s policy on offensive listings prohibits items that “promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial … or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.”
“How can they not remove these items?” says Rovt. “If ever there was an organization that promotes and glorifies hatred, violence, and racial and religious intolerance, it is the Nazis.”
Following the deadly Charleston church shooting by a Confederate sympathizer in June 2015, Amazon (as well as many other retailers) banned the sale of Confederate flags on its site.
“What message is Amazon sending?” asks Rovt. “Is the Confederate flag worse than Hitler?”
Amazon was alerted to these items by Hamodia numerous times — by phone and email, including emails to CEO Jeff Bezos’ public email address, email@example.com — but has not responded.
Rovt says he believes Amazon is just happy to make the money and “is not interested in doing the right thing.”
“We have to say something, to let them know that this is wrong,” says Rovt, who believes that there is a real danger to ignoring even seemingly insignificant things, such as a few individual sellers in Asia being allowed to sell Nazi-themed items on Amazon Marketplace.
“Remember, Hitler started out as a nobody. He was a failure, and people didn’t take him seriously. But when the German economy tanked, conditions were right for him to take power. We must not allow even small things like this to go unchecked and unprotested.”