The Kaffiyeh: More Than Just a Scarf - Update: ANSWER Calls for Dunkin’ Donuts Boycott!

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Any more questions about whether the kaffiyeh is “just a scarf,” or a well-known symbol of Palestinian “resistance?”

An article by Mafaz al-Suwaidan in the very leftist, pro-Palestinian Toronto Star makes the point beautifully: More than just a chic checkered scarf.

“The kaffiyeh is a visual extension of our struggle, a way to be a thorn in the silence,” says Ahmad Habib, Iraqi refugee and a member of the Arab Cultural Resistance music group. “Everywhere, from the Arab world to Toronto, people dress up to paint the world with conformity and indifference. The kaffiyeh stands in the way of that.”

The transition of the kaffiyeh from the Middle Eastern version of a baseball cap to a symbol of solidarity came with the occupation of Palestinian land. The kaffiyeh became a symbol of national identity for Palestinians. From the ‘60s on, Palestine Liberation Organization officials and members, such Yasser Arafat, wore the kaffiyeh everywhere they went.

International coverage of the first intifada often showed pictures of Palestinian civilians throwing stones with kaffiyehs around their faces or necks. But afterward, the kaffiyeh was popular only amongst activists and Palestinian refugees.

During the second intifada in 2000, sympathy for Palestinians began to grow and the kaffiyeh became a way of displaying solidarity.

“Ideally, I want everyone to wear the kaffiyeh,” says Habib, “but if it’s just worn for the aesthetic value, without the spirit of resistance wrapped up in every thread, then they might as well not wear it at all, and if it becomes appropriated by commercial interests, then that’s even worse.”

(Hat tip: Peter.)

UPDATE at 5/30/08 3:07:50 pm:

And yet, none of this stops the usual suspects from screaming, “Racism!” Boycott US doughnut chain for halting scarf ad, activists urge.

US activists have called for a boycott of doughnuts-and-coffee chain Dunkin Donuts after it pulled an online ad that a conservative commentator said promoted jihad.

“Dunkin Donuts has capitulated and withdrawn an advertisement for its products following the allegation… that the spokeswoman in the ad was wearing a kaffiyeh, a scarf which is a staple of clothing traditionally worn by Palestinian men,” the ANSWER Coalition said in a statement.

ANSWER, which groups hundreds of anti-war and anti-racism organizations around the United States, called for a “worldwide boycott of Dunkin Donuts… to send a powerful message to corporations that engage in racism or pander to anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racists.”

Of course, normally International ANSWER is the very first moonbat group to stand up and proclaim their “solidarity with the resistance!” But in this case, it’s “just a traditional scarf,” and anyone who objects to it is a “racist.”

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