Keffiyeh politics

08Nov10

Following, for reasons too complicated to explain, a series of links, I ended up at a fairly unsavoury Canadian website, Blazing Catfur, which has a hyperbolic post on a liberal Canadian anti-racist campaign. Anyway, the blogger noticed that “Let’s Eliminate Racism in Edmonton” has a rather interesting logo.

The blogger adds,

“Is that a Kafeiya the chicky is wearing in the Poster! Looks like they coloured it green to me. Some anti-racism message – No jews and whites!”

Obviously, I wouldn’t go that far, but one has to wonder what they were thinking…

Another keffiyeh controversy getting a bit more attention is this one.

Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture Siham Barghouthi said Tuesday that his ministry is investigating what he called Israel’s theft of “Palestinian heritage.”[…] Barghouthi specifically mentioned the blue and white “Israeli keffiyeh” with a Stars of David pattern worn in Israel and on American university campuses by activists from the Zionist Freedom Alliance. The PA minister called the scarf a “Palestinian national symbol” and attacked Zionists for usurping the keffiyeh and replacing its traditional pattern with Zionist symbols.

I already blogged about TheKef.com, an arm of Jewish music label Shemspeed.

Shemspeed, a Jewish music label and promotional company in the United States, recently released their own version of the ZFA’s Israeli keffiyeh, embroidered with the Hebrew words Am Yisrael Hai (The Nation of Israel Lives). According to Shemspeed founder and director Erez Safar, who also produces music under the alias of DJ Diwon, Jews have just as much right as Arabs to wear the keffiyeh.

“Jews indigenous to the [Middle East], such as my family, have worn some variation of the kefyah [cap/kippa] and keffiyeh for thousands of years… The original purpose of the scarves was to provide protection from the sun and sand. When it comes to religious observance, the Muslim tradition of head covering originates from the Jewish tradition.”

On a totally different note, a British trade unionist began an interesting article about Israel boycotts with this:

The question of what position to take over the ongoing conflict in Palestine has been a serious political flashpoint in the UK trade union movement for as long as I can remember.

Like many ordinary union members, I have always been appalled at many actions of the Israeli state, particularly in relation to the impoverished people of Gaza. But I have always also been extremely uncomfortable about the shrill ultra-left trendies in yashmags who remain curiously ambiguous on the question of Israel’s right to exist and seem to treat trade unions as simply a vehicle for their Palestine hobbyhorse.

Predictably, an anti-Zionist commenter writes:

“I think it should be “attendees” rather than “attendants” in the post, and probably “yashmaks”.”

To which Bob replies:

A yashmak is a yashmak, and a yashmag is a yashmag (or yashmagh). I’ve thankfully seen few yashmaks at trade union meetings.

For something of the history of the keffiyeh, check out “Shemaghs and Shades” at NoKrap, or “The ancient Jewish keffiyeh – the “sudra”” at the Elder of Ziyon. NoKrap says:

I don’t mind When Lupe Fiasco wears a Keffiyeh, I do mind when Lil Wayne does. Lupe Fiasco is a politically informed Muslim American artist. Lil’ Wayne… Isn’t.

However, Lil’ Wayne is a pal of Shemspeed’s, it seems.

Below the fold, some keffiyeh porn.


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3 Responses to “Keffiyeh politics”

  1. btw., under the name Puşi, this kind of headgear is also traditionally worn in Kurdistan since at least the mit 19th century

  2. You probably aren’t old enough to have witnessed the evelution of the use of this rag. Some background: I am an American who is Arab in origin, and had the misfortune of living in the DDR while it was still that charming, lighthearted Marxist-Leninist Worker’s Paradise.

    Before it filtered out of the Levant and onto the sidewalk vendors’ tables in Hamburg and London, the Keffiye had some built in signifiers. Simply a head-covering used in Trans-Jordan, Syria, and part of Lebanon, it only came in black and indicated to city folk that the wearer was an illiterate hick.
    Then the Hashemites adopted it out of populism, even working it into the military’s undress or garrison uniform.

    The people got cute with it. Red in lieu of the black thread signified political association with the Reds, Baath parties, the PFLP, and so forth. This is why Yassir Arafat only wore black ones.
    Green came along around 1979 – 1982 and meant that one was indicating to others a political association with Islamists.

    Of course at the same time, unwitting dopes aged 14-26 all over the world started wearing them because they though that they looked tough having assications with violence, what was percieved to be a liberation movement, but largely because someone somewhere thought they were cool.

    I bought one at one point in my adolescence. When I got home, I was told by my wise and beloved elders that only murderers wore them, and that I should either get the f*** out of the house, or get rid of it.


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