Over on Harry's Place, David T is looking at what he thinks is a current fashion statement: the wearing of keffiyehs by hip young women with attitude. He asks what the significance is, whilst suggesting this fashionista-oriented and this Guardianista-oriented explanation.
I could say that even a cool man like David T is still going to be a bit slow on the uptake about noticing something that's been around for years, but I have a personal stake in the history of this trend, and it turns out to be particularly relevant to a current area of sound and fury.
I remember acquiring a set of different-coloured keffiyehs at the start of the eighties, when they were part of radical chic after Mao jackets (of which I of course had a beautifully starched and immaculately ironed one) but before the left's reaction to the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon in 1982-- you know, "Yids are Nazis" sprayed on walls, that sort of thing.
Another reason why I stopped wearing them was I got into being a radical Jewish feminist around that time, or maybe a couple of years earlier.
Socialist Jewish feminists went on wearing them. It was a badge of being that sort of Jewish feminist. It meant that yes, you were a feminist, but the "supreme struggles" were ultimately "liberation struggles", supporting people like George Habash, and Robert Mugabe.
I remember having tea in a very elegant flat near Regent's Park one summer afternoon around 1979, whilst a fellow collective member talked about her ongoing telephone conversations with members of the RAF (no, not the chaps who flew British planes) as she put some superb Schubert piano sonatas on the hi-fi.
Radical Jewish feminists ditched being pressurised into being demonstration fodder for left-wing defined moral imperatives, especially around the prescribed stance to be anti-zionist and in favour of a "popular secular democratic state" led by Yasser Arafat and the PLO----so really, it was the supremely ironic "Independent" Jewish Voices scenario 25 years before this latest relaunch.
And what do you know, an awful lot of the socialist Jewish feminist women I knew then (though not the woman with the flat near Regent's Park) are signatories to IJV now. Or should I say, all the ones that belonged to or were fellow travellers of the CP have signed up to IJV, whereas the serious hard Trotskyists of those days are with Steven Rose of Bricup and Co. sharing a bed with the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK at the latest relaunch of an anti-zionist umbrella group, "Enough!". What's more, I can't see any significant alteration in their positions then or now. And I should stress that I think the IJV types I know are now much too beyond low level signification gestures like wearing real live keffiyehs.
I have an extended post on the IJV phenomenon that I've been picking away at for around a week, but I don't have the time for the headbanging involved. I hope to return to it later this week.