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Hebron Women’s Co-op…

May 13, 2009

 The city of Hebron is one of the most aggressive cities in the West Bank in terms of the relationship between the Palestinians and the Israeli settlers living there.  The settlers along with the Israeli military have taken over the Old City—and this has had a very big impact on the lives of the Palestinians because the market is in the Old City. 

 The soldiers have blocked roads and created checkpoints within the Old City to discourage commerce and tourism.  Now, there are even settlers living in the apartments above Arab shops and Israeli soldiers stationed strategically around the area to “protect” the settlers.  However, it is the Palestinians who need the protection in Hebron. 

 The violent, extremist settlers constantly antagonize the Palestinians in an attempt to scare them out of their shops by throwing garbage, stones, and sewage water from their apartments down on to the shops and people below.  The shop owners have actually had to put up a chain link fence above the streets in front of their shops to catch the garbage and stones—protecting themselves, visitors, and their products.

 Because of this situation, the Old City shops are slowly disappearing.  One attempt to combat this distressing trend was initiated by the Palestinian Solidarity Project.  They have helped to create a Women’s Co-op that produces traditional embroidered products hand-made by Palestinian women in Hebron.

 Their shop in the Old City sells embroidered products made by over 100 women from villages around Hebron and is exclusively managed by women.  This is a good opportunity for the women to create an income for their families and to contribute to revitalizing the market in the Old City. 

 Fatima, one of the women involved in the project says that “the women in this country usually marry and stay in the home…the situation is very difficult here—no money, no jobs.”

 In addition to creating an income for these women and trying to revive the economy in Hebron, another goal of the project is to create a market for their products in other parts of the world while at the same time raising awareness about Palestine. 

 The women say they “hope people abroad will help us by buying our products.  We want to support ourselves, we do not want charity.”

 The Women’s Co-op Website:

http://palestineembroidery.wordpress.com/

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