Aspen residents petition a ski brand before its launch due to concerns of antisemitism

Kristen Mohammadi   The Aspen Times
Carmen Ortega attends Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2015 at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts on September 11, 2014 in New York City.
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Nieve, an Aspen-based ski brand, hasn’t even launched. And already, there’s a petition against it. 

The ski line was designed by Aspen resident Carmen Ortega, an influencer and model-turned-fashion-designer who has amassed over 2.5 million followers on Instagram. She has recently been using her platform to share what some believe is antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories. 

Her recent vocalization seems to have been prompted by the downfall of rapper and fashion designer Kanye West, who goes by Ye. 

The petition quotes Ortega saying: “Have a short version of the Talmud (a Jewish religious text) just in case anyone has any more doubts. It’s time to wake up baby. What’s happening to Kanye is a direct example of everything.”

In October, Ye made public antisemitic statements on both national news and his social-media accounts.

Rolling Stone recently reported that six former employees of Ye’s claimed he would frequently reference antisemitic conspiracy theories and spoke of Hitler in a positive connotation.

Following his statements, antisemitic signs were held over 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. In Florida, antisemitic rhetoric was found in public spaces, including University of Florida’s football stadium during a game.

According to NPR, one in four Jewish people surveyed in the United States in 2021 claimed to have experienced antisemitism within a year’s time. A 2020 survey from Statistica found that anti-Jewish hate crimes were the most common form of religious-based hate crime in this country.

As a result of Ye’s comments, he lost several big brand deals, including Adidas, Balenciaga, and GAP,  plummeting his net worth from over $1 billion to $400 million

The question of whether commentary will affect commerce may loom ahead for Ortega. 

The Aspen Times received several screenshots of her Instagram story’s over the past few weeks, one of which read: “The truth is antisemitic. Let that sink in.” 

Screenshot of Carmen Ortega’s Instagram story

Following days of commentary from Ortega, a petition was started by Samuel Ashner, who is a resident of New York but has been coming to Aspen for over 30 years.

“I think there’s a belief that sometimes people say something nasty on Instagram, and it’s a one and done thing, and maybe there are extenuating circumstances,” he said. “But, this is an individual who on Instagram and Twitter has been making antisemitic comments going back to 2016.”

The petition links to an article from The Jerusalem Post, where Ortega is quoted questioning who owns the banks and the media as well as who is heavily involved in American politics.

She told The Aspen Times in an email that she is suing that news organization for libel, as she claims her words were taken out of context. According to Ortega, the quote was actually referring to left-leaning individuals, not those of the Jewish faith. 

“I am absolutely not an antisemite,” she wrote in an email to The Aspen Times.  “I understand the sensitivity around these subjects.

“Not agreeing with everything the Israeli government does, it doesn’t make me an antisemite; just like not agreeing with everything the American government doesn’t make me Anti-American,” she wrote.

Both Ortega and Ashner told The Aspen Times that they have received floods of negative responses to their online commentary, including death threats.

Nieve ski brand is expected to launch at the end of 2022, according to Ortega’s website. The exact date of the launch has not yet been released.

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