Keffiyahs, symbols and cats: Empowerment through responsible buying

The Map Is Not The Territory: Parallel Paths -- Palestinians, Native Americans, Irish, the touring exhibition on display at the Arab American National Museum through May 15, compares the struggles and experiences of Palestinians, Native Americans and Irish. Featuring artists such as Helen Zughaib, Norman Akers and Rita Duffy, the exhibition interweaves these narratives to create a larger image of resistance and empowerment through art. Contemporary and historical aspects are intertwined as a reminder of how our current experiences are influenced by history.
Museum supporters can play a part in contributing to the fight for freedom from occupation through socially responsible buying. 

What does it mean to buy responsibly?

Socially responsible buying calls for consumers to be more intentional about what they purchase, taking into account the context from which it stems and how it deals with social, environmental, and economic issues. Looking at how ethically products are produced and distributed, who benefits when you buy the product, and whether or not you are helping to empower or reinforce oppression are all behaviors of buying responsibly.

Visit The AANM Store and support the following artisans who invested in empowerment. Don’t forget to flip through the exhibition catalog, by Jennifer Heath, and take your experience at AANM home with you.

Hirbawi Textile Factory


Symbols are important tools in uniting against occupation. The keffiyah is a prime example of this. The checkered scarf, originally worn by Palestinian farmers and used throughout the Middle East and North Africa for practical reasons (such as shielding from the sun), has become an emblem of resistance and Palestinian solidarity. However, there is only one authentic weaver of Palestinian keffiyahs remaining. Today, original keffiyahs are born in the Hirbawi Textile Factory in Hebron. The family-operated business produces traditional keffiyahs, in addition to more contemporary and colorful versions. To purchase please visit: 



Also in the practice of fusing the new with the old, the Etsy-based shop Watan is operated by a Palestinian American student seeking to reclaim identity through artistic exploration. Watan sells clothing, jewelry, art, etc. The online shop offers visitors fragments of Palestine’s rich history, selling items such as jewelry resembling the intricate patterns in cross-stitch embroidery — or Tatreez — and the famed "Catffiyeh" T-shirt, a contemporary take on traditional wear, perfect for the activist and cat lover alike. To purchase please visit:

UNRWA Sulafa Embroidery Project

Creating opportunities for over 400 women living in eight different refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the Sulafa Embroidery Project ensures that traditional Palestinian crafts thrive and families living under occupation are supported. The project, originating in 1950, allows women to share their art with the world. Among their products are intricately embroidered shawls and scarves with astonishing geometrical patterns. To purchase please visit: 

Atfaluna Crafts


Atfaluna Crafts, also based in the Gaza Strip, provides vocational training and jobs to the hearing impaired who produce accessories, furniture, ceramics, and clothing as well as other items. It is a project of the Atfaluna Society for Deaf Children, the sole institution in Gaza dedicated to educating and providing resources for hearing-impaired individuals and their families. Bring home a unique, hand-painted keychain to celebrate the strength and talent emerging from Palestine. To purchase please visit:



Also established on Etsy is Abiqutie, a shop that pays homage to Abiquiú, the village in New Mexico where the artisan grew up. The shop draws inspiration from the village’s Muslim community and from the women of the village who were often referred to as “Abiquties” (read: cuties). The shop offers an array of hand-painted earrings and necklaces with a percentage of proceeds going to Playground for Palestine, a non-profit organization that builds playgrounds for Palestinian children living under occupation. To purchase please visit:

We all carry power in the way we live our daily lives. Being socially responsible in what we buy is one of the many ways that we exert our individual influence every day, starting right here in our community.



Tammy Lakkis is a multidisciplinary artist living in Detroit. Lakkis studied English with a sub-concentration in creative writing at The University of Michigan. She is the photographer & author of The AANM Store Blog.

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