After a statement of protest by the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, 7-Eleven stores in Taiwan have stopped selling items featuring a character said to look like Adolf Hitler, Haaretz reports.
Key rings, USB sticks and magnets featuring a cartoon vampire with a recognizable mustache were taken off shelves on Tuesday, after three years of sales.
The cartoon images of a man with a toothbrush moustache were not meant to look like Hitler, said the convenience store chain and a post on the blog run by the cartoon's Taiwanese creator. But 7-Eleven, which runs more than 4,400 stores in Taiwan, acknowledged suspicions.
"Because there are people with doubts, we've stopped selling the products for now," a 7-Eleven representative told Haaretz. The representative said other stores in the country sell items with the cartoon.
The paper reports that some academics on the island say that, because of a lack of world history education, some Taiwanese people think of Nazis favorably without being anti-Semitic.
According to CNN, 7-Eleven officials in Taiwan originally denied that the cartoon was meant to depict Hitler, "first calling the black square on the figure’s face a tooth, then a nose, rather than a mustache."
Because China does not allow diplomatic allies to have ties to Taiwan, the Israel Economic and Cultural Office functions as Israel's de facto embassy on the island, CNN reports.
“We were appalled to see the Hitler lookalike image being used, again, as a marketing aid and sold in Taiwan's 7-Eleven stores,” Israel Economic and Cultural Office representative Simona Halperin said in a statement Tuesday. “I find it tragic that once again people down the chain of marketing and promotion fail to recognize the meaning of the Dark Age in human history that the Nazi dictator represents.”