10 August 2011

Globalization vs national symbols

The BBC article Social media offers last keffiyeh factory lifeline sent me in several directions at once. It tells the sad story of declining and almost finished production of Palestinian keffiyeh scarf in the West Bank. The reason is mundane these days:

Wholesalers in the Palestinian Territories increasingly bought cheaper versions of the scarf from China, Jordan and Syria. A Hirbawi Textiles scarf costs around $6, while a Chinese keffiyeh costs as little as $3.
There are several observations to be made, and I shall do so presently:
  1. I am personally not too fond of this glorified scarf, for the chief reason that it was used to protect the bald pate of the champion of double-speak, one Yasser A.
  2. If you think about it, the fact that the Chinese keffiyeh became cheaper than the one made in Palestinian Territories is a witness to improvement in West Bank economy and standard of living, so it's not all that bad.
  3. There is some poetic justice in that people who produce the cheapest Kalashnikovs, so popular with part of Palestinian folks are now producing the keffiyeh as well. It is well known that keffiyeh goes best with a well-oiled Kalashnikov. You cannot accept one and reject the other, let's be reasonable.
  4. There is even more poetic justice in that people who produce the cheapest Kalashnikovs and keffiyeh are also producing the ubiquitous Che t-shirts. Because nothing fits Kalashnikovs and keffiyeh as Che on your chest and/or on your back.
  5. Enough observations.
Jouda Hirbawi, one of the keffiyeh factory owners, though, made a remark that I have to quote and then to correct:
Of course no country can ban imports...
Here is a story that proves him wrong (sorry, I've found one in Hebrew only). The gist of it is that our Bank Hapoalim (Workers' Bank - oh well...) decided to send a gift of an Israeli flag to every Israeli household toward the Independence Day of 2008. The flag was wrapped in the weekend editions of three main Israeli newspapers, and the happy readers discovered that it (the flag) looks as follows:

Well, the star of David is turned the wrong way, that's all. What counts is the good intention, after all is said and done. The bank, apparently, ordered about a million and a half of flags, and in the fervor of fulfilling this emergency order, the Chinese quality control people made a slight mistake.

The story reached our lawmakers, and a left-wing one, Shelly Yachimovich*, expressed her displeasure with the fact that Israeli flags are produced elsewhere, which, in her opinion, is the chief reason for that mistake. I, personally, would say that... no, I shall withhold it for now.

Anyway, last year a new law was put into the legislative process. Another example of stupid legislative activism I am so fond of. And, of course, Shelly Yachimovich is the sponsor. I don't know how it has ended - if it has ended at all - and could care less. But there is an example and a lesson for Mr Hirbawi. I think.

(*)Her picture, that really doesn't do her justice, is in that same article in Hebrew, but there are better ones on the net.

Hat tip: Francis Sedgemore.


Dick Stanley said...

No country can ban imports? Heh. Spoken like someone who's been on the international dole so long he doesn't know fantasy from reality.

When/if they get their "state" guess whose stuff they'll ban for importation. Wonder if they'll get around to producing their own electricity?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Because nothing fits Kalashnikovs and keffiyeh as Che on your chest and/or on your back.

Is there a special price if you buy the whole set?

SnoopyTheGoon said...

There are enough windbags to produce GREEN electricity.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

How would I know? I don't have a single one of these items, unfortunately, but maybe it's time to get them.