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As you know, a few years back we released a new version of the Keffiyeh; an Israeli version which is blue and white designed by Baruch Chertok. There are many variations of the Keffiyah both in color and style, all with a very long tradition and history. In order for everyone to understand where we are coming from and in order to prevent anyone from taking offense, I have decided to release this statement:
My family originates from Yemen, where my ancestors had lived for close to 2,000 years. Nearly 100 years ago, my Grandmother’s side of the family decided to move to Adis Ababa, Ethiopia and then to Israel, in 1933 (Southern Syria/Mandate Palestine at the time). On my Grandfather’s side, our family emigrated to Israel in 1924. Jews indigenous to the Middle East, such as my family is, have worn some variation of the “kefyah” (cap/kippah) and keffiyah (head/neck scarves) for thousands of years. The original purpose of the scarves, was to provide protection from the sun and sand. We have had some Arab friends take offense to our new scarf-remix. In response to such, I thought it was essential to release this statement in order to clarify the historical facts on the ground and, to provide some context. I as a Jew am not offended by the Pope who wears a “kippah” and in the same respect, I don’t feel there is any reason for anyone taking offense to a Jewish person wearing a version of the Keffiyah which they identify with; especially considering the significance of this article of clothing in both of all of our histories. There are numerous variations of the Keffiyah today; the red and white Keffiyah is associated with Jordan and worn throughout the Middle East and Somalia and have been worn by Bedouins for centuries. The black and white Keffiyah, idolized in the 1960s by Yasser Arafat, has become the symbol of the Palestinian resistance movement. The way that symbols are politicized and used to divide people, rather than as common ground for discussion and dialogue is exactly the kind of thought-provoking topic that we at Shemspeed explore with our music, as well as our programming. Our Israeli remix of the Keffiyeh, available through The Semitic, is just one more interpretation of a scarf worn by our brothers for thousands of years. We hope you enjoy them.
– EREZ SAFAR, Founder of The Semitic