Culture, Israel

Rachel Ray ain't got nothing on Israelis

Mobius is giving the blogosphere a reaming in the motherboard over the rightwingosphere’s dive tackling keffiyah-sporting Rachel Ray in the knees. Far be it from me to comment too much further than the grand-daddy of the topic has already done.
But since Mobes made me more aware of the keffiyah trend, I really did a double-take a couple times while in Israel two weeks ago: keffiyahs are for sale everywhere. And not by Arabs in the Christian and Muslim quarters of the Old City, or East Jerusalem, or Nazareth — but by Jews in Jewy places.
Keffiyahs in the Jewish QuarterI first saw them in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, not too far from the Jaffe Gate. In particular, I stopped to photo and joke about the rainbow-colored keffiyah on sale with the red and black ones. “What is this?” we joked, “the gay-friendly Palestinian resistance?” After a couple jokes about the audacity of a “log cabin” Hamasnik, I moved on.
But what really made me stop and stare was the prominent display of a rack of brightly colored scarves in the windows of fashion boutiques in Tel Aviv’s trendy Shuk HaCarmel! The shop was called “Smash Wear” which nearly made me pee my pants at all the possible and incredibly inappropriate puns.
Keffiyahs in Tel Aviv's Shuk HaCarmelMobius can say what he wants about American ignorant hipsters being duped into buying “peace scarves” (I’ve confronted a few friends myself who didn’t know any better), but now we’ve gone muddied the waters when Israelis either (a) wear them or (b) sell them to tourists. Is this irresponsible or have we actually managed to strip the keffiyah of it’s national symbolism?
I’m an advocate of cultural appropriation. Judaism is just a litany of appropriations of other people’s food, clothes, philosophy — latkes apparently are a Polish food, available year-round in Polish shops in Williamsburg, for example. With the exception of matzah, I think very few cultural trappings of Judaism are actually invented by a Jew. So this keffiyah thing doesn’t bother me that way.
But I’ve been considering a line of hipster wear with Chillul who? which smashes a few other borders: a Palestinian flag kipah, for example. Or let’s go all out and make a keffiyah out of little blue Magen Davids! How about a keffiyah-colored tallis? Let’s just say “fuck it” to the sacred cows and have an end to them. Fashion has killed the keffiyah and we can only wonder what other national symbol is next. Is any one taking bets?

9 thoughts on “Rachel Ray ain't got nothing on Israelis

  1. The rainbow keffiyah is actually a symbol of the Druze community, with each color representing a different principle of their secretive faith.

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