Pro-Israel shoes are custom design, not official Nike product

Social media users who have previously promoted disinformation about the war in the Gaza Strip are suggesting Nike has launched a new pro-Israel sneaker line. This is false; a custom shoe designer with no connection to the sporting goods brand made the trainers as a gift for the executive director of the nonprofit StandWithUs in Israel.

"NIKE AIR GENOCIDE," says Britain-based creator Sulaiman Ahmed, who has been monetizing misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war, in a March 4, 2024 post on X.

Screenshot from X taken March 7, 2024

In a similar post, Danish physician Anastasia Maria Loupis called for a boycott of the retail giant.

The influencers shared a video showing a pair of blue-and-white sneakers adorned with a blue Star of David. The clip has spread in multiple languages and across X and other platforms, including TikTok.

But the trainers are not an official Nike release.

At the start of the video, a logo for PNT by Ray, a social media user who sells "custom wearable art for kids and adults," appears on the packing tissue inside the shoebox.

"I am not affiliated with Nike or any other brand of products I paint on," PNT by Ray told AFP in a March 7 email. "I simply paint whatever my customers want, on any products they want. I also put a disclaimer in my posts making it clear that these are not Nike-authorized pieces, but just my own art on sneakers."

Michael Dickson, the recipient of the shoes, posted the original unboxing clip to Facebook and Instagram on March 3 (archived here, here and here). Dickson is the executive director of StandWithUs in Israel, an international nonprofit that supports the country and combats anti-Semitism (archived here).

"The shoes were a gift by an artist who beautifully painted the Israeli flag on them," Dickson said in a March 7 email, calling the posts online "misleading" and "another reminder that social media users should be skeptical about anti-Israel propaganda."

PNT by Ray, who posted a picture of the shoes on their now-private Instagram account, said they created the pair for Dickson because they are "a fan of his and appreciate his advocacy for Israel during this turbulent time for Jews."

Nike confirmed the sneakers are not an official product and are unavailable for purchase from the retailer.

Hamas's October 7, 2023 attack on Israel resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to Israeli official figures. 

Israel has responded with a relentless offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says has killed more than 30,800 people, mostly women and children.

AFP has debunked other misinformation about the conflict here

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