The keffiyeh, a traditional headdress worn by people from parts of the Middle East, has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and solidarity in the face of Israeli occupation and oppression.
The black-and-white chequered fabric, which was originally used by Bedouins to protect themselves from the harsh desert climate, has transcended borders and cultures and is now worn by activists, celebrities, and ordinary people around the world who support the Palestinian cause.
The keffiyeh’s association with Palestinian resistance dates back to the 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine when Arab rebel commanders ordered all Arabs to don the keffiyeh as a sign of unity and defiance against the British Mandate and the Zionist movement.
The keffiyeh became even more popular in the 1960s when it was adopted by the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who rarely appeared in public without it. Arafat’s iconic fishnet pattern keffiyeh became a symbol of his struggle for the liberation and self-determination of the Palestinian people.
Today, the keffiyeh is not only a fashion accessory but also a political statement. It expresses solidarity with the Palestinians who suffer from the Israeli occupation, the blockade of Gaza, the expansion of illegal settlements, the demolition of homes, the detention of prisoners, and the violation of human rights. It also represents the hope for a just and lasting peace in the region, based on the recognition of the Palestinian right to exist as a sovereign and independent state.
The keffiyeh has also been embraced by various movements and groups that share the values and aspirations of the Palestinian people, such as anti-war, anti-racism, anti-imperialism, and anti-colonialism. It has been worn by prominent figures such as Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Angela Davis, Roger Waters, Rihanna, and many others. The keffiyeh has also been featured in art, music, literature, and media, as a way of raising awareness and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
The keffiyeh is more than just a piece of cloth. It is a symbol of resistance, resilience, and dignity. It is a symbol of Palestine.