Israeli Designer Appropriates the Palestinian Kuffiya… And Calls It ‘Couture’

It’s not out of the ordinary for me to be baffled or enraged at news headlines that make their way across my various social media platforms. However, this particular story basically made $#!T hit the fan in my brain.

The Times of Israel published “When the Kuffiya Turned Couture”  and highlighted designer Yaron Minkowski and his most recent runway show – in which he featured a line-up of kuffiya-inspired and kuffiya-draped dresses and bathing suits. A kuffiya, is a Palestinian headdress and scarf that was originally used by Palestinian farmers to shield their faces from the sun while they worked. Over time, it became a symbol of resistance. Today, it embodies the struggle for freedom and the fight for Palestinian liberation.

Now do the obvious math.

Not only is an Israeli appropriating and stealing something that does not belong to them yet again (re: Palestinian land, water, culture, music, hummus… you name it), but they have the absolute nerve to claim their intention was to symbolize “coexistence.” Cut the kumbaya crap, please. If Israelis gave a flipping pancake about the livelihood of Palestinians and the term “peace” – they sure as hell aren’t going to prove it by appropriating Palestinian culture in the most opportunistic way possible.

It get’s worse. Minkoswki imported the kuffiyas from Hebron, [Occupied] Palestine. Not only is Hebron the city that birthed my ancestors, but Hebron is known to be home to the last operating and authentic kuffiya factory: The Herbawi Textile Factory, family-owned since 1961. Therefore, not only are they appropriating our culture, but our resistance as well.

Besides uniting for independence and a brighter future, the kuffiya is the one tangible thing that connects us Palestinians everywhere. Whether you’re in the diaspora, in one of the refugee camps scattered around the world, or in Palestine herself, the kuffiya is wrapped proudly by Palestinians everywhere, because it’s more than just a scarf. It’s our hope. It’s our life. It’s ours.

Incorporating the kuffiya into your designs, Minkoswki, is a pathetic attempt at trying to achieve “coexistence.” This term perpetuates the idea that Palestine is in a “conflict” rather than calling the situation what it really is: a straight up attack on humanity. There is no conflict. Militarized occupation and apartheid are systems that need to be taken down, not resolved. So there will be no coexistence, not as long as Palestinians aren’t given the time of day to exercise their basic rights first. Not as long as we’re denied our right of return, and definitely not as long as our culture and resistance are being appropriated for a fashion show that Palestinians can’t even attend – you know, because of that whole occupation thing.

And finally, no, the kuffiya is not “couture.” It’s our daily reminder of the repression Palestinians face on a daily basis and it’s the hope that’s been passed down with every worn-out kuffiya – generation after generation. It’s a statement alright, but fashion has nothing to do with it.

Image taken from Times of Israel