Saturday, October 10, 2009

I hate that I'm associated with you.

So here I was on Tumblr, minding my own business, looking at crochet posts when I came across this little jem:

Palestinian women crochet kippot for Israeli Jews

Reuters has uncovered the fact, well-known in Israel, that many kippot (skullcaps) worn by religious Israelis are crocheted by Palestinian women.

Now, this surprises me in the way of not at all, despite the fact that I was not aware of it previously. How else is a group with no option of an open economy supposed to make money but by servicing those who keep their economy limited. At this point in the article, I'm just sorta waiting to see where it is going, since the opening is fairly inconspicuous.

Almost every house in the village of 3,000 west of Ramallah makes the little caps. It's a social event as well as a helpful cash-earner. Women bring their wool and needles to each other's home to crochet and chat.

"We make qors (the Arab name for kippah translates as 'disc') while having a gossip," said Umm Ali. "We meet each other and we make money at the same time," added the mother of three, whose husband is unemployed...

So here, I start getting a little leery. "Helpful-cash earner" sounds a bit cheerful considering the alternatives. I'm not sure if its the passive language that brings to mind discussions of women's activities from a Jane Austen novel, or the slightly patronizing "what fascinating things these quaint people do!" tone that bothers me more.

Six Palestinian skullcap dealers distribute the wool, needles and the models to women in this village and 10 neighbouring villages.

The finished articles are collected each week and shipped to Israeli retailers. The skullcaps are also exported to the United States.

The women of Deir Abu Meshal, known for its traditional dress embroidery, say that to them it's merely a business.

They say they have no qualms about furnishing skullcaps for the people of the occupying power or the Jewish settler, who may be living on Palestinian land.

They say the work is convenient: they don't have to travel.

"Without this knitting business, people here would be very poor," said Nema Khamis, 50, who passed on her skills to her five daughters and daughter-in-law.

Okay, still not doing too badly. We have the admission that conditions are hard enough that without this work these women and their families would be much worse off. There still is a great deal of context that is being glossed over, but it is a short article, so to one degree we can forgive that.

Then this:
A great example of economic cooperation which benefits all sides. Most impressive: these women claim to make five kippot a day, each. Now that is speed. The only kippot I've ever made, as a teenager, took me months. It's a wonder they have any time to bring up children.....

So much little patience...or bile with which to puke. "Economic cooperation"? "Benefits all sides"!? Lets get one thing straight, just because it doesn't actively make a bad situation worse, this DOES NOT make it a benefit, okay? And "cooperation" would imply that these women get something beyond bare necessities from the work they do. And what the fuck is up with this "these women claim" shit? They have been doing this out of necessity for decades. Get that? DECADES. This is in no way equivalent to your little "crafty phase" at fifteen! It took you months because you had the privilege of not having to learn how to work for a living until you were almost an adult! When these women were fifteen they had already been learning how to do this for, most likely, at least five years. I would also shitcan that condescending "its a wonder they have time to raise children" crap. You gotta feed them if there is ever a hope of raising them.

I hate this. I hate this entitled attitude that thinks itself so worldy and I hate hearing it come from people who think they understand suffering because they participate in a seder every year, or their Grandmother remembers the Holocaust. Here's a tip, your Grandmother or Great Grandmother who remembers the Holocaust? They understand. You never will, and vicarious experiences do not mean that you have any concept of what it is like to live in perpetual imposed poverty.

At best, this author is simply woefully ignorant of the reality of what poverty in a place like the West Bank means. At worst she is dealing backhanded jabs at people who are fucking being EXPLOITED. And I used that word deliberately. When your choices are "do this or watch your family starve" then you don't have much of a choice. Its exploiting their poverty, and exploiting their position after being the ones who helped create it and maintain it.

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