Saturday, October 31, 2020

The fight against Israeli cultural appropriation: Palestinian Heritage Wear Day

By Naomi Kundera - July 10, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Culture] [Features]
Tags: [embroidery] [culture]

They took the land. They took the hummus.

Now they’re taking the clothes.
Israel’s attempt to erase Palestinian identity from worldview goes far beyond their land grab tactic. State propaganda efforts consistently appropriate Arab and Palestinian culture and claim it as their own.
July 25 is national Palestinian Heritage Wear Day, which also coincides with Arabic Culture Day. Both of these initiatives are Palestinian attempts at reclaiming the culture being stripped away from them by the occupation.
Two weeks ago, on June 30, the celebrations commenced in al-Bireh, Ramallah. A crowd of almost 300 gathered in the streets and marched to the al-Bireh municipality office. Men and women, young and old, were all dawning different traditional Palestinian garb.
“This initiative started four years ago,” Lana Hijazi, one of the lead organizers of the march, told Palestine Monitor.
“When we saw an Israeli fashion model wearing a Palestinian dress and saying that is it an Israeli dress. That made us angry and sad and we wanted to change that and stop it. So we decided that we should wear our national dresses and go out in the streets.”
“That is our way to resist the Israel work on stealing our traditional clothes.”
Israeli designer Yaron Minkowski draped Israeli models with the traditional Arab headdress - and symbol of Palestinian resistance - the kuffiyeh. In the 2015 fashion week, Minkowski said he attempted to transform the kuffiyeh into a “symbol of coexistence.”
In 2016 Israeli designer Dodo Bar Or went even further and eroticized the kuffiyeh in her spring collection. Extreme cuts, backless dresses, and short rompers mocked the traditional design of Arab heritage wear.
And last September some bedouin women in Negev were actually tricked into creating a dress with traditional Palestinian embroidery for the New York Fashion Week. The group of women, known as Desert Embroidery, were approached by Israeli designer Aviad Arik Herman for a partnership, unaware that the project was sponsored by the OR movement, an Israeli organization that works to settle Jews in the Negev and Galilee.
This year there are 10 cities and villages around the West Bank that will be hosting an event in celebration and reclamation of Palestinian heritage wear from Israeli appropriation.
“[Palestinian] heritage wear is very unique and it’s different from one city to another. That’s what is special about making these activities in each city. [And] each city has its own challenges,” Hijazi explained to Palestine Monitor.
“For example, Salfit is one of the places that has a lot of settlements and problems with settlers… Qalqilia is surrounded by the Israeli apartheid wall… Battir is a very well-known historical city and its known for its special plants and is now on the map of the international heritage map.”
“Every city has its special, own circumstances,” Hijazi continued, “and having a happy, Palestinian ceremony happening in these places – a happy march – its very special.”
“Usually as Palestinians we have a lot of sad ceremonies, a lot of sad days. So this is a happy day. We want everybody to wear the Palestinian traditional wear, be happy, sing the traditional songs, dance, walk on the streets, take photos, smile, and connect with our ancestors through our clothes and our culture.”
The Palestinian Heritage Wear Day Initiative is a team of volunteers who simply want to take action in their own hands.
The last march, on July 7, took place in Battir and was a celebration in combination with a local wedding. Women of the bride and groom’s family along with Palestinians from all over the West Bank came together in dresses traditionally worn for weddings.
The women paraded behind the happy couple’s car clapping and chanting traditional wedding songs.
“We don’t want to be like the UN and just [be] worried and not doing anything. We want to do something to change the situation,” Hijazi said about the volunteers in the initiative.
The Palestinian Heritage Wear Day Initiative also takes action outside these annual marches.
Efforts are made to keep the knowledge and skill of traditional embroidery alive in the younger generation.
Talking about the importance of keeping the tradition of embroidery going, a woman from Darna Couture, a retail shop in Ramallah that showcases Palestinian fashion and heritage with a modern touch, at the Battir march told Palestine Monitor, “We don’t want it to die out with the younger generation.”
“Your grandmother passed it to your mother and you mother passed it to you [but] now it’s starting to be [made] by computers. We’re trying to pass down theses artistries, not let somebody claim our heritage, our dress, our food, our culture. We want to re-appropriate our culture.”
The initiative helps empower young and marginalized women from Gaza and the West Bank by bringing sewing kits to their homes and teaching them the skill of embroidery. This action keeps Palestinian heritage alive and helps the economic status of Palestinian women.
The next march will take place in Hebron on July 12.
Lead photo: Lana Hijazi, one of the lead organizers of the Heritage Wear Day events.

Back to Top

Related Articles

Sudan-Israel relations new stab in the back for Palestinians
October 26, 2020

Israel stops renewing visas for UN human rights workers
October 21, 2020

Settlement expansion announced in West Bank, first since Gulf deals
October 15, 2020

Most Popular Articles

Israels puppet war unmasks apartheid regime
The El-Hakawati theatre was colorfully adorned to host its annual International

Rushdi Tamimi becomes second victim of Israeli army in Nabi Saleh
On Tuesday November 21st, the body of 31 year old Rushdi Tamimi was

Israel Avoids Hard-Right Shift: No Benefit for Palestinians
With many commentators predicting big wins for the settler movement in

Designed & Developed by: Pixel Co