Daily Israel Report
More

Zion's Corner Blogs


Heads Up: PA Accuses Israel of Stealing PA Keffiyeh 'Icon'

The Arab "keffiyeh" headscarf, popularized by Arafat, now is available with the Star of David. The PA charges Israel with "stealing a PA icon."
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 10/8/2008, 12:20 PM / Last Update: 10/12/2008, 8:20 AM

The PA has added the alleged theft and distortion of the keffiyeh to its growing list of accusations against the Jewish State, where the scarf is available in blue and white. Maha As-Saqa, director of a PA cultural center, charged Israel with the "robbery of Palestinian heritage." 

She explained to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an news agency that the headscarf, popularized by PLO terrorist chief Yasser Arafat's black-and-white checkered keffiyeh, is a symbol of "revolutionaries" all over the world. It is "being stolen by Israelis and distorted by others in a way that harms its status," he charged.

One Jewish organization known for using the blue and white keffiyeh on American college campuses is the Zionist Freedom Alliance. “For us this is a symbol of Jewish liberation,” says ZFA leader Yehuda HaKohen. “Historically speaking, the keffiyeh is not the exclusive property of the Arab nation. In ancient times it was worn by all Middle Eastern peoples, including the Hebrews. In fact, the only reason our people stopped wearing the turban was because of Arab oppression during the rise of Islam, when Jews were assigned the inferior status of dhimmis under Islamic rule. The Israeli keffiyeh not only sends the message that we are an indigenous people to the region but it also expresses our refusal to allow outside oppressors to dictate our culture.”


A ZFA activist wearing the the blue and white keffiyeh with Jewish stars in the design

As-Saga displayed for the news agency's reporters one headscarf with the blue and white colors of the Jewish state and another with an embroidered Jewish Star of David. 

She also blamed PA tourism officials for allowing the sale of colored multicolored headscarves sold to tourists in Bethlehem. The cultural director suggested that lawsuits be filed against Israel for "cultural theft." 

The keffiyeh has become standard garb for anti-war activists throughout the world but also has been adopted by upscale fashion designers. Its association with Arafat aroused opposition earlier this year to a donut commercial in the United States showing a popular television chef wearing the checkered scarf.