Interfaith group blasts Dunkin’ on keffiyeh

An interfaith group that includes rabbis blasted Dunkin’ Donuts for yielding to pressure to pull an ad featuring a keffiyeh.

The online ad featured Rachael Ray, the celebrity cook, posing against a background of cherry blossoms, wearing a black and white keffiyeh scarf, and holding up iced coffee. Conservative bloggers led by Michelle Malkin complained about the ad, saying it endorsed Arab radicalism because of the keffiyeh’s identification with Yasser Arafat, the former Palestinian leader.

Palestinian nationalists adopted the checkered keffiyeh as a symbol in the 1960s, but its use predates that period and persists in the Middle East. Additionally, the scarf adorning Ray is fringed, which is not common to keffiyehs.

Dunkin’ Donuts pulled the ad, saying “the possibility of misperception detracted from its original intention to promote our iced coffee.”

The Interfaith Alliance, a religious freedom advocacy group, blasted the decision.

“Enough already,” Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, the alliance’s president, said in a statement. “Have we really reached the point where we are associating wearing a scarf of Middle Eastern origin with terrorist sympathies? Should we apply this standard to everything that comes from the Middle East? Or are we only applying this standard to our wardrobe?”

The alliance’s chairman is Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim congregation in Alexandria, Va. and its vice-chairman is Rabbi David Gelfand of New York.

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