NY Times Gets Me All Wrong

You know, of all the things I’ve ever done in the world, you’d never believe that it’s for the most insignificant of them all that I would make my way into the NY Times. But lo and behold, there I am in today’s Style section, mentioned for my post a couple of weeks back on Urban Outfitter’s sale of keffiyehs.

But not everyone finds it so simple a fashion statement. A blogger named Mobius, posting Jan. 16 on Jewschool, a Jewish blog that targets a young audience, blasted Urban Outfitters for selling kaffiyehs. Taking issue with the retailer’s decision to label the item an “anti-war woven scarf,” Mobius posted pictures of terrorists adorned in kaffiyehs.
The same day Urban Outfitters, which had offered the scarves in several color combinations for $20, pulled them from stores. Its Web site posted this explanation: “Due to the sensitive nature of this item, we will no longer offer it for sale. We apologize if we offended anyone, this was by no means our intention.” A spokeswoman for the store, which has 95 branches nationwide, declined to comment further.

I’d be happy about this were it not for the fact that the Times totally mischaracterized my post, and furthermore attributed my post with URBN’s decision to unstock the item, despite the fact that Stand With Us, a pro-Israel campus group, was responsible for pressuring URBN to drop its keffiyeh line, and that I would never have promoted nor sought such an action. In fact, I quite clearly mocked the Jewish community in my post for what I expected would be the surge to suppress the keffiyeh sales, noting, “I’m sure some readers are already ramping up their e-mail clients to send nasty letters to URBN.”
The purpose of my post was not to suggest that the keffiyeh was a terrorist symbol, but rather to criticize Urban Outfitters for degrading a very potent symbol of national resistance (“the kaffiyeh just got 10 TIMES MORE PASSE and 10 TIMES MORE TRIVIALIZED, thanks to Urban Outfitters”). In doing so, I humorously pointed out the irony of calling such a symbol of resistance “anti-war,” when it is quite clearly a modern form of war paint.
The Times’ reporter did not request comment from me, however — probably just read the Jerusalem Post article on the subject without bothering to locate my remarks on Jew School itself, making me out to look like a nutty right-wing douchebag. I have therefore asked the Times to issue a correction, and I apologize if I have given anyone the impression that I regard the keffiyeh as a terrorist symbol.
I reiterate: I view the keffiyeh as a symbol of Palestinian national resistance and respect it as such; and I object to its use as an innocuous fashion item hawked by trendy Republican-owned chain outlets in the USA.
Rather, I am disturbed by the fact that because I am Jewish, my view on this issue was presumed by the author and characterized as it was.
But hey, free publicity, right?
[Update] Hey, wait a sec–What’s up with the Times calling the people in the photos I posted “terrorists”? Don’t they mean “glorious martyrs and resistance fighters”? I thought they were a bunch of left-wing hippies and terror apologists over there…

11 thoughts on “NY Times Gets Me All Wrong

  1. We’ll ignore the fact that for the most part, Palestinian National Resistance and Terrorism have been synonymous… Also, Stand With Us did not have anything to do with getting Urban Outfitters to stop the sale of “Peace Scarves” – It was all the work of Allyson Rowen Taylor, who works for Stand With Us, but was acting on her own. So there’s a small clarification on your clarification.

  2. a) there is infinitely more non-violent resistance to the occupation than there is terrorism directed against israel and jewish interests. it’s simply not as attractive to the press as violence, hence “if it bleeds, it leads.”
    b) allyson herself claimed in a comment on jewschool that stand with us takes credit for the action.

  3. Mobius wrote:

    a) there is infinitely more non-violent resistance to the occupation than there is terrorism directed against israel and jewish interests.

    Awesome! Let me know next time Palestinians get together in a circle and sing Kumbaya in order to protest the occupation! The guy wielding the peace guitar will no doubt be wearing a Peace scarf as well. Send me a pic! Given the rate at which Kassams are hitting Sderot, and the rate at which suicide bombers get intercepted, peaceful sit-ins, marches and song circles must be going on like, all the friggin time! So let me know! I promise you, I’ll publicize this infinitely larger sphere of resistance.
    b) Allyson was quoted in the Jerusalem Post as follows:

    “It seems odd that something that has been so publicized as a scarf used by terrorists would be picked up as an anti-war scarf,” said Allyson Rowen Taylor, associate director of Stand With Us, who told The Jerusalem Post she spoke on behalf of herself, not the organization. “I don’t think it’s an innocent choice. It’s either pure ignorance or someone in the buying department with a political agenda against Israel and Jews.”

    So who knows…

  4. I don’t think they got it that wrong.
    They understood that you took issue with the fact that they were labeling them as “anti-war,” which I also took away as the main point of your post when I first read it.
    Had they also attributed you for declaring the keffiyeh trivialized and passe, they wouldn’t have had a story left to write.

  5. I still think it’s interesting that Urban Outfitters claims to have pulled the scarves from their shelves, yet the Urban stores in London seem to be selling them at such a fast rate. And not just in the boring black and white…they have them in hot pink, neon green and a really cool purple.
    That makes it ok right? (heavy on the sarcasm)

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