Is a keffiyeh like a kippah? Arab MK's scarf causes uproar in Knesset

Debate on whether sign of Palestinian nationalism is permissible in plenum overshadows accusation that Aharonovich incited to violence against Arabs.

November 12, 2014 13:09
1 minute read.

Arab MK Ghattas speaks at Knesset in keffiyeh

Arab MK Ghattas speaks at Knesset in keffiyeh


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Balad MK Basel Ghattas’s decision to wear a keffiyeh, the black-and-white scarf seen as a sign of Palestinian nationalism, in the Knesset Wednesday overshadowed his accusation on the stand that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch incited violence against Arabs.

Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) vocally protested Ghattas’s political and sartorial choice, shouting to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein: “There is an Arab MK here in a keffiyeh. I request that you check if, according to Knesset regulations, an Arab MK is allowed to speak with a keffiyeh.”

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Edelstein said this was the second time Ghattas had worn a keffiyeh and that it is permissible.

“Just as we can come to the Knesset with a kippa, he can come in a keffiyeh,” the speaker, who wears a kippa, responded.

Ghattas continued to wear the controversial scarf throughout the day, including in the MKs’ cafeteria while he ate lunch.

Regev later called for Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon to examine whether Ghattas’s speech while wearing a keffiyeh was legal, dubbing it a “pathetic provocation.”

“Ghattas is another one of those Trojan horses that take advantage of the Knesset’s stage and represent terrorist organizations,” she said. “Therefore, they belong out of the Knesset.”

Ghattas wore the keffiyeh in protest of what he saw as institutional incitement to racism, asking Aharonovitch if his comments that any terrorist who tries to harm Israelis will be killed was connected to the shooting of 22-yearold Kheir-a-Din Hamdan of Kafr Kana.

Hamdan was killed by a police officer last week after he approached a police van with what appeared in video of the incident to be a knife, though Hamdan also seemed to be retreating before the policeman took his shot.

The Balad MK also asked if Aharonovitch plans to resign following the shooting to which Aharonovitch responded: “Your question does not warrant a response, but I will say I have no intention of resigning, to your dismay.”

Ghattas later said the ministers encourage hatred and racism, which lead to terrorism and violence by Israeli Jews.

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