Since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza and the outbreak of demonstrations globally in support of civilians in the Gaza Strip, those in solidarity with the victims of Israel’s massacres have been encouraging other nationalities to accept the Palestinian keffiyeh, as a symbol of unity, and to wear it to show their solidarity with the victims.
The New York Times reported that a diverse group of those who recently participated in a march for Gaza in lower Manhattan (downtown New York City) were wearing keffiyehs and raising the Palestinian flag. She pointed out that 3 men performed the prayer while lying on a keffiyeh instead of a prayer rug.
It quoted a Vietnamese citizen residing in Queens County, New York, named Binh Le (33 years old), who was wearing a black and white keffiyeh around his neck, saying that his Palestinian girlfriend was the one who gave it to him to wear.
Keffiyeh for everyone
Ivana Rodriguez Rojas (24 years old), who lives in Manhattan, also wore a Palestinian keffiyeh during the march.
She said that she did not know that Palestinians encourage others to wear the famous scarf until she saw a blog recently published by her Palestinian friend Fatima Saleh on the X platform (formerly Twitter).
Fatima (38 years old), who lives in Edmonton, Canada, wrote in her blog that “anyone can wear the keffiyeh,” and that “your solidarity with us means everything to us.”
She stated – in an interview with the New York Times – that she gave the keffiyeh to some of her friends who spoke frankly about their support for the Palestinians, and that she knew other Palestinians who did the same thing.
Although Fatima’s post on the X platform was intended to encourage wearing the keffiyeh as a show of solidarity, she said that there is a fine line between appreciation and cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation or cultural appropriation is a term that means, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, “taking or using things from a culture that is not the user’s culture.”
For his part, Ted Swedenborg, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Arkansas, who has studied the keffiyeh for 40 years, says that the scarf was used by rural Palestinians and Bedouins to protect against sunburn, dust and sand. The Palestinian keffiyeh is a black and white scarf usually worn around the neck or with an aqal on the head.
A symbol of Palestine
Swedenborg added that the Palestinian keffiyeh became associated with Palestinian nationalism during the Arab revolt against British rule between 1936 and 1939.
According to the American newspaper, the appearance of the keffiyeh in armed conflicts and violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces made the scarf a polarizing garment. It continued that Germany banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations last month, and schools in Berlin were allowed to ban the wearing of the keffiyeh.
Al-Herbawi Company, which manufactures the keffiyeh in the West Bank, has recently witnessed an increase in demand for its products, unprecedented in its history, according to its director, Nael Al-Qusais, who revealed that they sold more than 18,000 keffiyehs last October.