Redefining: On Nationality and Changing Beauty Standards

· Updated on March 23, 2023

Meet the first Palestinian male model redefining the limitations of his national identity and causing a stir on the runway.

Qaher Harhash is a 19 year old boy from East-Jerusalem who has recently moved to Berlin to pursue a burgeoning career as a fashion model. However, this recent endeavour has not come easily.

Since the age of 17 he tirelessly attempted to get signed to a modelling agency in the State of Israel. However, he was always met with the same dismissal, ‘we aren’t ready for a Palestinian male model yet’. That was until Roberto Models Agency took a chance.

Having to travel through the checkpoints of the West Bank to the fashion metropolis of Tel Aviv, he was forced to confront many difficult realities, including hostility from his modelling peers. But this did not deter him from wanting to shake things up. After a collaboration with famous female israeli model Noam Frost in a campaign for Rina Zin (the first designer to work with him) he opened up a dialogue about cultural barriers.

Both Arabs and Israelis on both sides fall victim to thoughts of hatred and discrimination largely because of their limited access to the ‘other side’. Harhash believes that you cannot compare suffering and that whilst both parties have their differences, the only way to break this cycle is to communicate with each other.

Since then he has left Israel and been signed to a modelling agency in Berlin. But whilst his sights are set on success within the fashion industry, he has also positioned himself as an advocate for Palestinian visibility. INTO met up with him in Tel Aviv last summer to ask the importance of role models and what it means to be Palestinian.

REDEFINING is a new series from Samuel Douek for INTO Magazine that profiles interesting individuals, collectives of organisations who are breaking down cultural, political and social stereotypes and redefining the labels that society has branded them with.

These are people making a difference to their local communities and causing a global impact.

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