Keffiyeh--Fashion or Jihad?
The keffiyeh, the checkered scarf worn by former Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasser Arafat, has caused a second uproar in two weeks by its appearance as an Australian fashion item. Australian newspapers said Jewish community leaders have played down the debate on whether the keffiyeh is a fashion item or incitement for Jihad, the Arabic word for a holy war against Israel.
Last week, the American-based Dunkin' Donuts chain yanked a commercial that was criticized for showing a television celebrity chef wearing the Arab headdress. "Most people would be unaware of its connotation for Muslims and Jews, and it's therefore, clearly being worn as a fashion item," Jewish leader Vic Alhadeff told the Australian Jewish News. Others criticized a Jewish-owned clothing label for promoting the keffiyeh and "ignoring such community standards and societal norms, by blatantly advertising these keffiyehs--symbols of the Arab terrorist movements."
The Dunkin' Donut advertisement showed celebrity chef Rachael Ray with the checkered scarf, but conservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote that the scarf is a symbol of terrorism.
Whether incitement or fashion, the publicity serves as a warning to marketers. "The Dunkin' Donuts dust-up means that marketers now have to start looking more closely at what nonverbal messages their ads convey via design and fashion," the Wall Street Journal wrote Wednesday, quoting Cliff Medney, a marketing officer.