Maggie Alderson wrote in Al Age’s M Sunday Magazine (22 May) about how the traditional Arab scarf has morphed into one of the season’s must-haves.
The long, soft scarf, worn loosely looped around the neck is not a hot new look but it’s not a tragic, démodé one either. In fact, it’s right in the middle of making a rare transition from key trend to wardrobe staple.
It all started a few years ago when the black and white keffiyeh came back as a youth fashion. These traditional Arab scarves – as worn most famously by one Yasser Arafat – first became trendy among the young and radical in the 1970’s, when they were taken up as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian uprising.
This political message quickly became submerged as the scarves were taken up as a generic youth cool signifier and I’m embarrassed to admit I got about in one for months in my late teens with no idea what it was broadcasting – until a man in Paris took issue with me and explained.
I’d just thought it was a nice scarf… I was mortified when I found out the rest – not because I had committed views on either side of the Middle East situation, but because I hadn’t known my scarf did.
But there were clearly plenty of other people who had no idea about the semiotic message of these comfortable pieces of loosely woven cotton – or didn’t care – and keffiyehs were still very much the go into the early 1980s.
They disappeared mid-decade and weren’t seen again – outside news bulletins from the Gaza Strip – until their recent re-emergence around the necks of young people clearly as ignorant of their implications as I had been.
Anyone who adopted the look soon discovered this trend had a lot more going for it than your average celebrity-style steal. It’s astonishingly flattering, softening necklines and the harder lines of tailoring, or skirting over inconvenient body issues such as muffin tops and PMS bloating. Generally, it softens and loosens up any outfit, adding instant confidence.
So if Maggie was mortified when she found out the keffiyeh had a racist - indeed genocidal message – why is she happy to promote it? Why does she describe the scarf as “famously” worn by Yasser Arafat, when surely a more appropriate word would be “notoriously”?
As a refreshing contrast to Maggie’s trivializing terrorism, Daphne Anson recently wrote about:
…the West's anti-Israel women, who jump on the bandwagon of every anti-Zionist initiative going….
Following the Itamar massacre and the Jerusalem bomb outrage will they still wear their keffiyehs, the chic left-liberal chicks of the Western world, including gilded youth and bourgeois elements, to express their solidarity with the perceived victims of the "Israel-Palestine Conflict".
Will they and their equally fixated menfolk continue to flaunt their partisanship, despite (dare I suggest in some cases "because of"?) the antisemitism that pervades much of Palestinian society.
… as the Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer has observed, in the aftermath of the Itamar atrocity:
'There is a widespread culture calling for death to the Jews – and official support for that culture – rampant in Palestinian society as evidenced by the following:.
• Abbas allowed a presentation of $2000 to be awarded to the relatives of a Palestinian terrorist – reported in Al-Hayat Al Jadida on 25 January:
• Abbas was the President who did nothing to prevent the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets, shells and mortars into Israeli civilian population centres from Gaza and the smuggling of weapons into Gaza prior to being deposed there by Hamas in 2007. Hamas continues to maintain its threat to rid the Middle East of Israel – ostensibly as the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people.
• Both Abbas and Hamas leader – Ismail Haniyeh – head organizations whose Charters call for the elimination of the Jewish State and the denial of any right of statehood for Jews under the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
• A Palestinian Authority TV tribute to “Martyrs” included the terrorist who killed three Israelis in a 2002 terror attack in the same West Bank town of Itamar where the Fogel family was murdered.
• Abbas sanctioned the inauguration of a square in el-Bireh in March 2010 named after Dalal Maghreb - the Fatah woman who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 37 Israeli civilians and an American photographer were killed, and 71 were wounded. (source)
Do those favouring the keffiyeh support its ‘Death to the Jews’ message? If not, why are they wearing this terrorist symbol? Surely they would have reservations about wearing a swastika round their neck, and there’s really no difference.
Yasmin Begum also comments on the keffiyeh:
…a national symbol of the Palestinians during the Arab Revolt of the 1930s. Its internationalisation is possibly owing to Leila Khaled, a political guerilla Palestinian Liberation Organisation (or PLO for short), who was giving huge coverage during 1970, when she led one of the plane hijacks during the international hijacking crisis now known as Black September. Still, something that happened forty years ago, doesn’t explain why there are so many keffiyehs, in every single rainbow colour..
… perhaps it’s down to Yasser Arafat, who tied it in a triangular manner, as a personal trademark.
Unlike the activists, revolutionaries, or people who support these causes, the people who adorn their bodies in terrorist chic are not connected with their fashion; they are irresponsible, reckless, and frivolous. On one hand, I love them for being so ignorant, but on another, I think it’s ill-minded, and the use of terrorist chic glorifies things that should not necessary be glorified. (source)
Pamela Geller writes: in Cultural Jihad Chic: Norming Barbarity, Target and Amazon Heart Keffiyeh
Imagine, if you will, how they must laugh at us. And how laughable we are. That girl wearing the keffiyeh is like a young Jewish girl wearing the swastika circa 1943. The Nazis would be laughing also.
Amazon is pimping for jihad. The Arafat war scarf is on sale. The keffiyeh is the icon of the global jihad. It is as iconic of jihad as the swastika is of the Nazis. Notice the advertising of the bloodiest murderer in modern Middle East history (the competition is stiff, after all), Yaser Arafat.
Arafat, the depraved pedophile and barbaric monster, was never seen without it.
The keffiyeh was Yaser Arafat's swastika, and became a powerful symbol of jihad. In the ensuing years, the keffiyeh as an icon of anti-Americanism, anti-semitism and anti-westernism took on a life of its own. The death-to-the-Jews marches across the globe during the Israeli defensive these past few weeks were awash in keffiyehs from London to Paris, to New York, to Fort Lauderdale, to Bahrain, to Thailand .....well, you get the picture. (source)
Strange that people would choose to wear a symbol of jihad. Can we expect mock suicide vests to become the next cool thing for these dedicated followers of radical chic?
In a sane world, support for terrorist symbols should, in fashionista Maggie’s words, become “tragic and démodé”.
Let’s hope for a return to sanity!