Outrage as Israeli designer 'eroticises' Palestinian keffiyeh
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An Israeli fashion designer has used the Palestinian keffiyeh to create a range of dresses and miniskirts for her latest collection. Some Arabs, including Palestinians, have denounced this as a shameful appropriation of the scarf, which has become a symbol of Palestinian opposition to Israel.
On January 28, Tanya Habjouqa, a Jordanian photographer, took to Facebook to share a photo of one of Dorit Baror’s stores in a Tel Aviv mall. The store is filled with clothes derived from the keffiyeh, which cost a minimum of 150 US dollars (134 euros), according to Habjouqa.
Cultural appropriation to an extreme....in a chic Tel Aviv mall, I stopped in my tracks when I saw the Palestinian and...Posted by Tanya Habjouqa on Thursday, 28 January 2016
Dorit Baror, who is also an actress, has stores in 17 countries. On her brand’s website, photos show a model posing in her latest designs. In some photos, she’s half naked – one shows part of a breast, in another, in which she has her back turned to the camera, she’s topless.
This has angered many Arab internet users, including Palestinians. Mohammad Matter, from the nonprofit Gaza Youth Cultural Center, reacted on Facebook: “Our symbol of resistance is eroticized by Israel fashion designers!” Another commenter, posting on the site Mondoweiss, wrote: “It’s like the white settlers of America, who took in Native American mythology and tried to make it part of their culture”. In her Facebook post, Habjouqa added: “It’s cultural appropriation to an extreme […] No sign or explanation of where this material came from.”
The keffiyeh first appeared in the fashion world in 2014
Dorit Baror is not the first fashion designer to use keffiyehs in her creations. In 2015, during the Tel Aviv Fashion Week, Israeli designer Ori Minkowski showcased models wearing dresses derived from the traditional scarf, which he presented as a symbol of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. This did not cause any scandal. Meanwhile, a Jordan designer, Ghada Zada, also used keffiyehs, without shocking anyone. Her photos, however, didn’t have any erotic undertones.
Back in 2014, the global clothing brand Zara came under fire for designing keffieh-patterned mini-shorts. They ended up removing it from their summer collection.