Video by Linda Paganelli for Palestine Monitor.
Traditionally worn by Palestinian farmers, the Kufiyeh became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and revolution against the British Mandate during the 1930s.
Its notoriety increased during the 60s with the Palestinian resistance movement and Yasser Arafat’s vesture as a symbol of identity and national struggle.
Hirbawi Textile is a decades old small manufactory based in Hebron (Al-Khalil) run by the Hirbawi family.
The Palestine Monitor met with the factory’s manager, Abdil Azim, who explained how the business drastically changed for the worse from its opening in the year of 1961 up until now.
After three decades of flourishing business, the end of the first intifada coupled with the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 unfortunately contributed negatively to the factory sales.
At its height, the Hirbawi factory used to make 150,000 kufiyehs annually. Due to the Israeli occupation and checkpoints and other obstacles that hinder trade movement, Abdil Azim resignedly admits that it is impossible to export the kufiyeh to other countries.
Today the Hirbawi factory struggles to survive due to trade competitors like China and neighboring Arab countries, which started to produce the kufiyyeh in large quantities and sell them at a fraction of the price.
“Promoting the local production in Palestine is also a way to resist the Israeli occupation,” Abdil Azim said.
The Hirbawi family have ventured to export the kufiyeh by selling the traditional Arab fabric with strong political patterns online to Europe and US.