Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Documentary on the last kufiya factory in Palestine

By French journalist Benoit Faiveley, courtesy Monocle. Watch it here.

Among other things we learn, from owner Yusif Harbawi and one of his workers, that black and white is for Fateh, red for the PFLP, multicolored ones for tourists, and green for Hamas--but they don't get many orders for the latter. (It seems that in Gaza, however, red ones are favored by Hamas supporters.)

A young man named Muhammad, from Ramallah, is also interviewed. He says that in the Occupied Territories, before 1992, at a time when the Palestinian flag was banned, the kufiya functioned as the symbol of Palestinian nationalism. According to Hirbawi (or his assistant), during the first Palestinian intifada (1987-92), the factory had lots of work, and produced on the order of 1000 kufiyas a day. Today it produces around 70-80. Previously 15 machines in the factory operated; today only 4 operate, 2 hours a day.

The problem is imports, mostly from China. It has affected textile production in Hebron in general, which has declined drastically since the West Bank and Gaza opened up to trade in the wake of the "peace process" launched in 1992. Hirbawi argues forcibly that such imports should stop, and that Palestinians should be buying textiles and kufiyas that are produced in Palestine.

It's unlikely that the quisling Abbas regime will make any move to bolster Palestinian industry, however. It's not likely that he even has any power to do so.

Hirbawi and his factory have received a lot of attention from the media in the last couple of years. See my previous posts on Hebron kufiyas here.


Hisham said...

Very good documentary. Beyond the sadness of the story itself, I think that times are shifting. That the western powers are now morally bankrupt and that the Justice camp is beginning to gain ground... Keffiyeh might no longer be made in Palestine (and I hope this factory will survive) but the sybol it conveys is gaining momuntum amongst ordinary people.

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