Or do they?
So, so very wrong...You might recall the big kerfuffle last week where a number of bloggers (well Mobius really, and a Stand With Us exec speaking for herself) took umbrage with Urban Outfitters over their sale of “anti-war woven scarves.” These peace scarves were in fact Keffiyehs, otherwise benign traditional Arab headdresses which achieved notoriety because they were also worn by bad ass insurgents in Iraq and Palestinian terrorists. Keffiyehs have also been worn by anti-Israel, anti-imperialist activists for years and of late by fashionistas and hipsters wishing to give their wardrobes instant street cred. Some activists feel that the adoption of the Keffiyah as a fashion statement trivializes its meaning, to whit here’s a typical whiny statement from Nadeem at Kabobfest:

I (and others) have noticed it [the Keffiyeh] being worn by seemingly clueless d-bags who know little more about the scarf than its pretty patterns – the more disgusted I’ve become with the idea of people expropriating aspects of my culture… especially when they strip those things of all meaning.

Curiously, when Urban Outfitters later announced that they would no longer be selling the scarves, Kabobfest blamed “Zionuts” like Abe Foxman, fearful of the growing strength of American solidarity with Palestinians. So which is it Nadeem? Douchebags? Or brothers and sisters in solidarity? I suspect it’s a bit of both… but I digress.

It seems that fashionistas looking for a Keffiyeh need not worry! Urban Outfitters is still selling them on their European Web site. While they are not marketing them as anti-war scarves (what the hell is a shemagh?) one of the scarves, adorned with a skull and cross-bones motif oddly reminiscent of the Nazi’s SS Death Head symbol is called the Skull Desert Scarf.

Seig Allah!

I Love Israel! Yay!What a really unfortunate juxtaposition. I mean really unfortunate, especially when you consider How Hamas and Hezballah have this affinity for oddly Nazi-like salutes AND Keffiyehs… Urban Outfitters CEO Dick Heyne might need to clean up shop a little. So what now? Do we send Dick an angry letter? Do I get on the ADL hotline and spring Abe Foxman on these guys? Do I buy a big batch of these Keffiyehs and set up shop in Gaza (Israel just released $100 million into Mahmoud Abbas’s account. Those guys now have mad money to spend!)? Or do I revel in the continued trivialization of the Palestinian movement?

Aw man… it’s just a fucking scarf… Heck, we’ve used Keffiyehs to market our I Love Israel in Arabic t-shirts. British and US soldiers in Iraq use Keffiyehs to keep dust off their faces… but not with a death’s head design embroidered on them. That might be a bit too much. I mean, we’re not talking an “Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl” t-shirt here – we’re talking about what can be construed as an “I want to kill you and your family and all your people” scarf. Get on it Urban Outfitters!

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

49 Comments

  • Have I mentioned that the subtlety of the “Palestine is for lovers” t-shirt is too subtle and has the opposite meaning of what you meant? You should really consider selling it to Urban Outfitters – they could do a two for one special along with the keffiyah.

  • You have indeed mentioned your opinion on the matter, but everyone we know disagrees and gets a good laugh out of it. Maybe it’s a generational thing? The absurdity of it is pretty obvious, but if some Palestine-loving folks take it seriously, they will have still bought it off a “Jewlicious Apparel” shop. The irony abounds.

  • lol, a generational thing, where is the respect huh TM?

    that girl w/ the ‘large’ head looks like the old i heart hashem girl. i wish her arms would be covered though, thats what i like about the new hashem girl….

    who is she? you have mentioned it before but i don’t feel like sifting through old jewlicious posts….. i have a life God damn it.

  • the new i heart hashem girl is the girlfriend of a bartender dude in Jerusalem. I used them to shoot the cover of the World Jewish Digest which featured a story on hipster jews – you can read it here.

    As for Palestine is for Lovers – duuudes! Valentines day is coming up! And guess what? If you live in the US and buy over $50 in Jewlicious Apparel stuff and use this code: VDAYSHIP – you’ll get free super saver shipping! Yaaaay! But you have to place your order before Feb. 14th!

    I don’t know if it’s a generational thing, but remember, TM is the guy who, despite the existence of many very hip and very cool musical performers in Israel, chose to nonetheless use precious Jewlicious space to post videos of Yehuda Ravitz and Chava Alberstein. TM is just not hip – he’ll admit it himself. Thus its ok that he does not get the point behind Palestine is for Lovers. Wait and see his reaction when we come out with the Rainbow Palestine is for Lovers shirts… can’t wait for that reaction…

  • I’m glad you are exposing this, but while that skull barely looks like the Nazi Death’s Head Battalion skull (though I’m sure that’s what they’re hinting at), Walmart is still selling Nazi Death’s Head Battalion Ts (which bear the exact SS Skull & Bones), months after the store promised me they’d take them off the shelves:
    http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2006/12/why_wal-mart_st.html
    I think Wal-Mart deserves our wrath at least as much as Urban Outfitters.

  • I posted abot this a couple of times. Not only were they selling the Keffiyeh, but Fidel Castro hats and jackets. I have screenshots to show that Urban Outfitters visited my blog. They all came onto my site under a Google search of ‘anti war woven scarf’. Looks like they visited the internet worried about a potential uproar, and retreated somewhat. The Fidel jacket is gone. The Fidel hats are on sale, and they renamed the Keffiyeh, the ‘desert scarf’. Probably just trying to get rid of inventory.

    Link is to my last post about it.

  • TM is just not hip – he’ll admit it himself. Thus its ok that he does not get the point behind Palestine is for Lovers.

    By definition, ck, most people aren’t “hip.”

    In other words, you appear to be in complete agreement with me that the majority of people won’t get your t-shirt.

    Oh, and I’m glad you loved the music that I posted to take up valuable Jewlicious space. Didja notice how they were posted just before the shabbat pic – kinda like listening to the radio on a Friday afternoon in Israeli, no?

  • Totally off topic…

    TM wrote: In other words, you appear to be in complete agreement with me that the majority of people won’t get your t-shirt.

    Yes. That was never an issue. I mean do you think most people get the christ killer shirt? Is it necessary for everything to be prima facie clear? Or is it possible that seemingly provocative messages can lead to otherwise fruitful discussions and ideas? Must everything always be so concrete? Must we pander to “most people?” I don’t think so.

    So yes, while the friday vids you posted are indeed quite popular amongst certain Israelis, they reinforce the notion that music in Israel is kind of uh… classic. Whereas the reality is that there is much very interesting music in Israel – why just today Haaretz wrote two pieces (1 and 2) about Jazz music in Jerusalem. There’s also Miss Flag another band who will probably be playing a Jewish Festival coming very soon… There are more examples of course. Not just Subliminal…

  • Who said there isn’t other types of music, or even that I don’t happen to listen to them. I thought those clips were fascinating though whether one likes the music or not.

  • While I would argue that those clips would have never been “fascinating” they could have been at least culturally interesting, had they been given a little context, a story, a translation for our predominately non-Hebrew speaking audience even. Sadly, they did not stand on their own. They fell somewhat flat and, as ck said, reinforced the idea that Israeli music sucks.

  • Well… that was well put. For instance, Jerusalem of Gold is an awesome song rendered even more awesome by the story around the song and the historical context. Context is everything and sadly, we are totally out of context here.

    So… do we send the CEO of Urban Outfitters a nasty letter? Or what?

  • Yeesh, you are the biggest whiners around. Out of context? Palestine is for lovers is out of context. Music videos, even if you don’t like the music or the musicians, on the other hand, are rarely out of context because the music stands or falls on its own. In this case, however, you have the additional visual information provided by the obvious age of the clips, the clothing worn by the singers, the cheesy and cheap backdrops, etc. Even the least knowledgeable person who absolutely abhors the music will come away with something. On the other hand, folks, what people come away with with “Palestine is for lovers” is precisely the opposite of your intent.

    Where is Palestine, anyway?

  • TM: This is a thread about Keffiyehs… and just as you enjoy teasing me (note the use of my handle in the title for one of the videos and the obscure reference to one of my comments), so too do I enjoy teasing you 🙂

    And yeah, I did chuckle at the cheasiness of the videos but I speak Hebrew and I understand the context. Not everyone who reads Jewlicious gets it in the same way.

    As for the Palestine is for Lovers t-shirts, you asked “Where is Palestine, anyway?” I think you’re beginning to understand… Amongst the plethora of Palestine t-shirts with cheesy slogans like “Free Palestine,” “I Heart Palestine,” “I Left My Heart in Palestine,” “God Bless My Little Palestinian Heart,” “Everyone Loves a Palestinian Girl,” our Jewlicious produced Palestine is for Lovers shirt stands as a bold statement poking fun at the other silly slogans used by Palestinian advocates marketing apparel. Or something.

  • Uh, yeah, Mr. Ultra-Hip, I’m sad to say that you might as well simply license your Palestine is for Lovers t-shirt to that Palestine t-shirts site and be done with it. I see no difference between that and “Kiss me, I’m Palestinian” or “I heart Palestine.”

    It’s okay to admit you’re wrong, guys. 😀

  • TM: Except for a few minor things… first, the shirt is produced by Jewlicious Apparel, next the notion that “Palestine” is a great vacation destination for honeymooning couples is kinda funny, and finally where thhe hell is Palestine anyway? But I’ve already mentioned all these issues. So can we agree to disagree?

  • I really don’t know how you can think that that music stands on its own.

    While current music of your own culture may not necessitate context, because it is automatically understood within the zeitgeist, dated music and the music of other cultures most certainly does.

    If a person unfamiliar with American culture was to listen to The Times They are a’ Changing, with no explanation of the time in which it was made it would just sound whiny.

    Punk, which often just sounds like noise, is only appreciated by understanding that it was not the mainstream, but a rebellion. And what the radical tenets of that down and dirty rebellion were.

    Can you appreciate impressionist art without understanding the neo-classicalism it was rebelling against?

    Can you appreciate Picasso without context, or do you just look at it and say “my kid could draw that?”

    When I show friends old movies from the 40’s they often ask why the acting is so bad. It’s only “bad” because we’re used to Stanislavski.

    But back to Israel – if music came out to heal just after a war, you hear it differently. If it was made by new immigrants bringing in the music from their native homeland, you understand it that way.

    Yerushalim shel Zahav just sounds terrible and overly melodramatic without knowing (approximately) what the song is about, and hopefully, the era of cheesy music in which it was made.

    If all you hear is cheesy music and a bunch of garble you don’t understand, chances are you will neither like nor appreciate it.

    All we’re asking for is providing context. Is it really that hard?

    As for Palestine is for lovers, it’s ok to admit that you just don’t get it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not funny. Just wait till you see what’s coming next…

  • Boy, that was long Laya. Perhaps you’ve heard of radio? Doesn’t it really piss you off when you listen and you hear a song you really really really like and the announcer comes on and makes a cheesy joke right before cutting to a commercial without ever telling you who sang that song? The bastard! Well, this is the Internet. If you really care; I mean, if you really need CONTEXT…google it.

    As for “getting it,” dear Mistress of Hipdom, you should take another look at the Palestinian t-shirt site ck provided and picture your t-shirt residing somewhere on page 2 where it’ll fit right in.

    ck, of course we can agree to disagree. Since I am right.

  • Wow TM, what’s with the overly snarky attitude?

    See, we’re not a radio, we’re a blog (nonetheless when you’re listening to Radio, it often times has a theme and a context built in, like “Oldies” or “indie”. While you might not know the singer, you at least have the context). We’re asking for context when you post videos in a language most of our readers can’t understand. No need to get sensitive.

  • Who is sensitive? You’re telling me (again) what and how to post, and I’m suggesting to you that I disagree. I’m having fun. I suspect ck is having fun. You should also try to have fun.

  • OK… Keffiyehs? Can we talk about Keffiyehs with death’s head logos embroidered on them? Sheesh…

  • And I thought we all were having fun! It was an interesting discussion on art and context – which also applies to keffiyehs!

    Please, just learn to see something for what it is – constructive criticism. It’s a suggestion for how to allow more people to enjoy and appreciate what you post. That should be a good thing.

  • You are totally right. That shirt, without context, would be taken literally and totally misread.

    Only if you know what “Palestine” refers to, and have seen images of it on the news over the past few decades could you understand the irony. The images “Palestine” conjures are not about lovers or romance, but violence, chaos and squalor. Hence, the humor based only on knowledge of the topic.

    So see, we’re in agreement! Doesn’t it feel good?

  • You said what the hell is a shemagh. Well you answered your own question. On that wikipedia article you posted it said a keffiyeh is also known as a shemagh. You should really google the term before you say “what the hell is a/an ” Then you would’ve been able to infer that Urban Outfitters was trying to tone down the publicity of their product.

  • Another witchhunt! Keep it up! Spread the fear!

    It’s so sad how everything can be turned into fear.
    The Palestinian scarf was originally worn by farmers and poor people to protect themselves from the sun and now it is a national symbol for the Palestinians. One of the only things they have left. So what’s wrong with that?
    The dutch grow tulips and wore wooden shoes and are responsible for the word apartheid. Wooden shoes, tulips: Bad.
    German Totenkopf Abteilung wore skulls, the Red Khmer collected them. Skulls: Bad.
    Ceasar’s Roman soldiers wore sandals when they slaughtered most of Europe and North Africa. Sandals:very bad.
    Can people concentrate a little more on peace . On not believing everything the media tells you. Question everything? But why? Exactly!

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  • that’s not a Nazi salute actually. before world war two it was common in many countries, and there are 1930’s photos of kids in the united states using it when saying the pledge of allegience (loyalty oath) to the flag. but after world war two lots of countries dropped it.

  • Cant believe this crap, its a scarf, and so what if it represents palestine. Israeli’s kill palestinians. they steal their land and kill children

    Israel is the real terrorist!

  • SO SNATCHING AWAY THE PALESTINIAN LAND, HOMES, THE CULINARY HERITAGE (MANY ISRAELI RESTAURANTS CLAIM THAT THEY SERVE HUMMUS AND FALAFEL, “AUTHENTIC ISRAELI FOOD”), IS NOT ENOUGH????

    The keffiyeh to me and to most people is purely a symbol of solidarity and support for the palestinians, and in my opinion, it says much more about anti-war and peace than any stupid IDF sweatshirt!!

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