Wednesday, March 28, 2007

KEFFIYEH = NAZI???

As I was researching an entry about Henrik Vibskov's piggy scarves, I came across material that suggests that keffiyehs "have been increasingly associated with neo-nazis in Germany since the late 1990's". Uhh, WTF??

Is it the "anti-Zionist" (= "anti-Jewish", according to false logic) connotations of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle? Or is it an attempt to adopt/destroy yet another youth culture (think of those poor Skinheads) or Leftist symbol?

In any case, hiphopper Invincible got into a bit of trouble when wearing a keffiyeh to a concert in Leipzig.

Arhh, and what signals do I myself send, walking down the street here like this?

Okay, this calls for more research ...

Here is a flyer from the Antifascist Left (PDF). Nice title - "Are you cold, or don't you like Jews?"
It tells about the "fascist background" of the keffiyeh - according to this flyer, the Fascist-friendly Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1936 forbid all Western-style hats and ordered everyone to wear the traditional keffiyeh instead. "And so, this scarf became a symbol of oppression. People who didn't follow this order were killed and beaten."

Hmm, maybe this is what inspired the Neo-Nazis to adopt the keffiyeh as their new 'Fascist' symbol?

But the only sources I can find for this right now are German-language, or directly translated into other languages from existing German-language articles - and all of them pro-Zionist. One such source is Karl Selent, with a "pro-Soviet, pro-Israel" background (in the tradition of Stalin, I presume, who initially supported the Zionists in hopes of getting a foot into the Middle East, though the Soviets later on turned to support Arab states opposing Israel, like Egypt and Syria - and I didn't mean that as 'guilt by association', but only as a historical background as to how something like that can be possible).
Ted Swedenburg writes in "Occupational Hazards - Palestine Ethnography": "Official Zionist discourse continues to associate the 1936-39 rebellion with Nazism, claiming that the Arab insurgents were aided and inspired by Fascism. And it makes much of the fact that the leader of the Palestinian national movement during the 1930's and 1940's, Hajj Amin Al-Husayni, took refuge in Berlin during WWII and collaborated with the German war effort."
So, the leader of the Palestinian national movement in this period was probably a Fascist, but does that automatically make all Palestinians even today Fascists?

The flyer continues, and it gets more and more interesting.

"Er ist auch keine nicht für die palästinensische Gesellschaft. representierende Darstellung. Kinder werden dort von früh auf so erzogen, dass sie im Ernstfall für die Religion und das Volk in den Tod gehen würden und dabei möglichst viele Juden, Kinder wie Erwachsende und Alte, da macht der Antisemit keinen Unterschied, mit zu nehmen. Frauen müssen sich verschleiern und sich dem männlichen Willen alle Zeit beugen. Für Homosexuelle oder emanzipierte Frauen ist in dem islamistischen
Weltbild kein Platz. Viele, die nicht bei den Militäraktionen gegen Israel mitmachen
wollen, werden als Deserteure im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes an die Wand gestellt. Das Palituch steht für diese Gesellschaft und deren Widerstand, der nicht im entferntesten Sinne etwas mit Emanzipation zu tun hat."

The syntax of the first quoted sentence is a bit confusing, but I suppose it can be agreed that they are trying to say something about the Palestinian society. From the next sentence onwards: "Children are brought up there in such a way that they in case of emergency will die for the people and the religion and in the process take as many Jews with them - children, adults and old people alike, the anti-Semite makes no difference there. Women have to wear veils over their faces and give in to the male will at any time. In the Islamist worldview there is no place for homosexuals or emancipated women. Many who are not willing to participate in the military actions against Israel are literally put against the wall as deserters. The keffiyeh (in Germany called "Palituch", Pally-scarf") stands for this society and its resistance that doesn't have the least to do with emancipation."

Riiight ...

Oh, and I almost missed something really interesting on the first page of the leaflet:

"... So ist die Solidarität mit Palästina und die damit verbundene Abneigung gegen Israel seit eh und je eine Selbstverständlichkeit in der Linken. Den völkischen, antimodernen und antisemitischen Charakter der palästinensischen und arabischen Gesellschaften hat dabei nie interessiert und wenn es ihnen einmal wieder vorgehalten wird, zählen Argumente von „Rassisten oder „Imperialisten“ ja eh nicht."

"... And so, the solidarity with Palestine and the antipathy against Israel that is connected with it have been self-evident for the Leftists since ages. The völkish (a hardly translatable Nazi term that nowadays stands for fascist/nationalist/ethnic/racist), anti-modern and anti-Semitic character of the Palestinian and Arab societies has never interested anyone, and when someone actually points it out to them, the opinions of "racists" or "imperialists" don't count anyway."

Wow, so these "anti-Fascists" are actually anti-Arabs.

Okay, now I checked out some of the organizations that are listed at the end of the leaflet. And abysses open up in front of me.

Well, hagalil.com is no abyss, but the biggest Jewish online magazine in German. In the enormous masses of material, there might be something objectionable, but there are tons of things I also support. I read their materials occasionally.

antifanews.de has just an announcement for a couple of seminars on Marxist theory. Nothing too objectionable.

antifa.de is the website of the anti-Fascist movement in Germany. Mostly concentrated on fighting Capitalism and "fortress Europe". Nothing too objectionable there, either, at least not on the front page.

But.

aano.tk is for the most part under construction, but contains a link to a campaign against the "esthetic rehabilitation of suicide bombing" in the "Jew murdering drama", Hany Abu-Assad's film Paradise Now.

antideutsch.com is a website that seems to be entirely dedicated to drawing parallells between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. (I wonder if they have had any contact with the Israeli peace movement. Oh, right, but they have probably been brainwashed by Karl Selent and his likes also in this matter.)

Anti-Germans are apparently a somewhat marginal and very heterogenous current within German anti-Fascism. They generally use Leftist rhetorics to propagate right-wing objectives. Since the Al-Aqsa Intifada, besides some general anti-Muslim activities, they have concentrated most of their efforts on supporting Zionism. Some Jewish Germans and Israelis have criticized the anti-Germans, saying that their "unconditional solidarity" is a farce that "transforms the actual tragedy into a burlesque of fools".

I guess it's not always so easy to be anti-Zionist in Germany, a country that carries some very heavy historical baggage and was deeply involved in the founding of Israel in order to atone a bit for its sins.

But that's no reason to become anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab or anti-Muslim.

The leaflet has a slogan - "For a self-reflecting radical Left!"
And I have reflected on this matter quite a bit now, and decided that I most certainly will continue to wear my keffiyeh.

Some people wearing keffiyehs. Note how few of them are Palestinian or affiliated with Palestinian political organisations.

A Kurdish dance troup

The Kurd Hajji - as a matter of fact, he probably doesn't wear his black-and white keffiyeh because he would support the Palestinian organisation Fatah.

The red scarves are to show support for the more 'radical' Palestinian groups, like Hamas or PFLP, right?? Well, here's Condi celebrating her birthday with a great friend in Saudi Arabia.

A Yemeni man along the road to Shibam

The keffiyeh is the traditional headgear worn by men all over the Middle East - not only for political reasons, not only in Palestine, and not only by Yasser Arafat. People have shouted "Arafat!" after me on some occasions (though I'm actually not sure if it was because they opposed or supported him), and if some "Anti-Fascist" Zionists shout "Nazi!" after me now, so be it. I support neither Arafat/Fatah nor Nazism. My keffiyeh doesn't stand for either.

This is what my keffiyeh stands for: I'm anti-Zionist. Not anti-Jewish. Even though my keffiyeh is black and white, I'm against the corrupt leadership of the Palestinian Authority - not least Fatah. I'm against violence and oppression of the weak. I'm against Patriarchy, and also Matriarchy - as a matter of fact, I'm against any arche.

And I'm also against stupidity. That includes the kind of stupidity that assumes that I wear a keffiyeh just to "be cool" or because I "don't know about its background".

(Arafat's scarf was of much finer quality than mine, anyway.)

3 comments:

ainur said...

Damn, I wanted to see Condi wearing the keffiyeh. But she was just eating cake (and having it?).

Some issues in this world are very hard to deal with when only a few biased sources are available. Often the reason is that only a few groups of people are interested in spreading their own version of the story - others see no benefit in the issue and simply ignore it. So we get only one biased version of the history of the keffiyeh and its "fascist" connections, and nothing to compare it to.

Here is another example of such an issue:
The Holocaust in North Africa - and the heroic Arabs that rescued their neighbours as well as complete strangers from the Nazis and the Vichy regime. Completely forgotten, because only very, very few are interested in their story.

There's a link to Bernard Lewis' article about "the New Anti-Semitism". If you find Lewis to be somehow pro-Zionist, it might be amusing that the Anti-Islam website "Dhimmi Watch" (or jihadwatch.org) accuses Lewis to have "under-estimated [Islam's] malevolence". Oh well, you can't win them all.

IAblogger said...

Wow! This is one of the most obnoxious charges I've ever seen. Only someone who has never experienced German Neo-Nazis (I used to live near Stuttgart in Germany) could possibly believe that they are adopting Arabic symbols like the keffiyeh. They hate Arabs, Turks, and Kurds far more than they even notice Jews. When i lived there, no one ever pegged me as Jewish and it was no big deal, but there were a couple Nazi kids that hung out at this bar nearby and all they did was make racist jokes about the non-white foreigners.

I guess I'll have to get more of my fellow anti-Zionist Jews wearing keffiyeh's in solidarity with the Palestinian victims of Zionism.

John S.
---
Jewish Friends of Palestine
http://www.jewishfriendspalestine.org
Online One State Bibliography
http://www.onestate.org

Tinet said...

John S. - "Only someone who has never experienced German Neo-Nazis (I used to live near Stuttgart in Germany) could possibly believe that they are adopting Arabic symbols like the keffiyeh."

Um, I live in Germany, and it's in Germany people (those "anti-Germans") have started to spread 'information' about it being a 'fascist symbol'.
I haven't personally seen any Nazis here wearing kefiyehs, but there is picture evidence of it. See, for instance, the German Wiki article I linked to, under the headline "Kritik am Tragen der Kufiya in Deutschland":
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kufiya

It shocked me when I first heard about it, too, but it seems kind of marginal, after all. No one has actually said anything or looked at me in a strange way when I was wearing my kefiyeh.

But Jewish anti-Zionists should definitely make their voices more heard. Keep up the spirit!