Hundreds of Palestinians wearing traditional Palestinian dress attended marches across the West Bank and Gaza on Saturday to celebrate Traditional Palestinian Dress and Heritage Day.
In Ramallah, men, women and children marched from the municipality building in the northern town of al-Bireh to the al-Bireh cultural center, waving Palestinian flags and signs while calling for the protection of the Palestinian cultural heritage.
Lana Hijazi, who coordinated the celebrations, said that the idea of a day celebrating Palestinian traditional dress came following a discussion she had with a friend from Gaza, Mai al-Li, on the importance of the Palestinian traditional dress, heritage and civilization.
"The goal of the initiative is to remind Palestinians around the world of our heritage to maintain."
Nothing wrong with this. While I have looked hard for specific examples of "Palestinian" culture and mostly came up short, Some towns had their own unique crafts (soap in Nablus, glass in Hebron, olive wood carving in Bethlehem) but these were local, not national. But if Arabs in Judea and Samaria want to dress up in costumes and claim that they are celebrating "Palestinian culture," then it doesn't bother me.
But their justification for doing it shows that this isn't cultural, but political:
Palestinians have in the past spoken out against "cultural appropriation" by the Jewish Israeli population, citing in particular the Israeli claim to traditional Palestinian foods such as humus and falafel, as well as traditional clothing, including an Israeli redesign of the Palestinian Kuffeyeh that incorporated a light blue Star of David.
"Jews are referring our civilization and heritage to them, and we have to maintain and keep our identity,"Hijazi said.
She said that the initiative was in response to fears that the Palestinian heritage is under "attack" from Israel, that is is being stolen and falsified.
"Wearing the Palestinian traditional dress is resisting the occupation," Hijaz said. "We resist and keep our cultural heritage as part of the beauty of our Palestine."
Celebrations also took place in Gaza, where people marched to the UNESCO headquarters there, demanding UNESCO and the Palestinian Authority officially recognize July 25 as Palestinian Traditional Dress and Heritage Day.
Omar Abu Shawish, from the Gaza campaign, called on the PA to support the Palestinian heritage and urged UNESCO to respond to Israeli action against it.
There is no small bit of irony in this article. The people behind this are saying explicitly that the major reason they want a "Palestinian Traditional Dress and Heritage Day" to be recognized by UNESCO is as an act of "resistance" against Israel, not as a positive step towards strengthening their own supposed heritage.
I've mentioned before that Jews, secure in our own cultural history, are not offended that Arabs love to eat matzoh and no one would mind if they started eating Bamba or gefilte fish or dancing horas. Arabs, on the other hand, freak out when Israelis - about half of whose ancestors lived in Arab lands - embrace and often enhance Middle Eastern foods or dress.
The entire reason for "Palestinian Traditional Dress and Heritage Day" is because, deep down, Palestinian Arabs know that they have little culture to call their own that is unique from surrounding areas. The entire reason they want UNESCO to recognize a fake culture is to claim that Jews have stolen it from them.
People secure in their culture have no reason to fear others. I see no "Levant Heritage Day" or "North African Heritage Day" even though both those areas have far richer cultural influence than "Palestine" ever had.
Their framing this as "resistance" proves the exact opposite of the purported point of "Palestinian Traditional Dress and Heritage Day" - it proves that their claim to have a vibrant historic culture is bogus and nearly the entire Palestinian Arab cultural heritage is dedicated not to further one culture but to try to eliminate another.