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Black Star Pastry (Chadstone, Melbourne) Sacks Keffiyeh-Wearing Staff

Meet the half-backed virtue signalers who have just learned the hard way that showing support for terrorism (even if you don’t admit you are showing support for terrorism) can have consequences. Sometimes.

keffiyeh staff

Ella and Lucy loved working at the Black Star Pastry in the Chadstone Shopping Centre. For them, it was about more than just making coffee.

“It was a high school job that turned into a livelihood,” Ella says. “It very much became part of my identity as well.”

The 22-year-olds — who asked that their surnames not be used — shared interests in barista techniques, but also human rights. They became regular attendees of the Sunday rallies for Palestine, a weekly fixture among those protesting against the war in Gaza.

“Just walking in a group, hearing and feeling the emotions of the community going through such a horrific crisis right now,” Ella says. “It hit me really hard.”

It was the second day of “Keffiyeh Week”, a national pro-Palestine campaign in late January, when they decided to wear keffiyehs to work. Ella says the initial reaction was positive.

“We had a few Muslim women come up, they were overjoyed seeing us in a keffiyeh, they had a lot of gratitude. They actually stopped and bought a couple of cakes and coffees to have a conversation with us,” Ella says.

“We thought this is a great thing for everyone.”

That changed around lunchtime when Ella received a call from HR, instructing them to remove the keffiyehs. They quickly complied, removed the scarves and continued their shifts.

“We didn’t want to risk our livelihood. I’d been working there 9am to 5pm for months. I’d given a lot of my waking hours to that place, I didn’t want to lose my stability,” Ella says.

The next day, however, two senior Black Star Pastry employees visited the store, pulled them aside, and informed them they were sacked, effective immediately.

They were given termination letters that said the keffiyeh was “divisive and inflammatory” and wearing it to work was “serious enough to bring Black Star Pastry into disrepute”.

The workers had engaged in a “deliberate negligent act” that breached the company’s uniform and social media policies, the letters said.

“We respect our staff’s right to express their political views when they are not representing Black Star Pastry,” the letter stated. “Your actions have caused serious and imminent risk to the reputation and viability of our business.”

Both Ella and Lucy were shocked. They understood the uniform policy was black and white only, and claim they did not realise the scarves would be a problem. Plus, they thought it was the end of the matter when they followed the instructions on the day. “It made me feel pretty frustrated, angry,” Lucy says. “Like the world really hates Palestine.”

Talk about a complete inversion of reality.

Now cue sad violin music.

Ella was a full-time employee so was paid out leave entitlements, but Lucy was casual and says she has had to borrow money from friends to pay for rent and food. “I’m still unemployed. It’s been pretty bad,” Lucy says.

The day Ella and Lucy wore the keffiyehs to work, a shopper posted a photograph of them on X using a since-suspended account, tagging both Black Star Bakery and the Chadstone Shopping Centre official accounts, with the message: “Why are your staff at Chadstone wearing Palestinian terrorist headwear?”

Ella says the whole experience has exacerbated existing mental illness, causing it to “spiral”. “I felt very paranoid but also very worried, concerned, anxious about who that was, where that came from, the spreading of that misinformation by someone I don’t know was very jarring. Not just jarring, but scary.”

Another complete inversion of reality – the only ones spreading misinformation are haters like these two.

Meanwhile, delicious coincidence or trolling masterclass by Black Star?

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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