|Palestine liberation hero Leila Khaled of the PFLP at a rally this week in Gaza.|
There are very few living revolutionaries I revere. History has been hard on heroes: so many have been transformed into martyrs. But one of my real heroes returned to the stage of history this week, though you might not know it from the lack of mainstream press coverage. Palestinian revolutionary Leila Khaled bravely returned to Palestine this week. In the aftermath of Israel's recent war on the tiny swath of Palestinian territory, the border between Gaza and Egypt is now more open than it has been in decades. And so Khaled was able to travel from her home as a refugee in Jordan to a part of her country long forbidden to her by the state of war and occupation between the Israeli state and the Palestinians.
|Leila Khaled arriving in Gaza after crossing from Egypt at Rafah.|
I read Khaled's now out-of-print autobiography "My People Shall Live" many years ago. In it she tells the story of how she came to be a revolutionary, and what lead to her role hijacking airplanes for the Palestinian cause. She describes how the view from the plane flying over Haifa was as close as she could come to returning to the place of her birth. While of course many accuse Khaled of being a terrorist, her hijackings were political statements and not instruments of random terror against innocent people. (See an earlier post here at The Cahokian for some thoughts on the politics of airplane hijacking). At a time when the Palestinians were a defeated, victimized people, considered a non-entity by so many, Khaled became a human face for the spirit of resistance.
|The revolutionary Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine celebrates its 45th birthday.|
"I am proud of you, you raise all of our heads high. The entire Palestinian people is unified behind you, united with the resistance even when split on negotiations and calm, and in the camps and diaspora we hear the echoes of your struggle and say ‘We are with you, Gaza’. During the Zionist aggression, everywhere in the camps and in diaspora our people were cheering for the resistance.... I said that I am going to Gaza, this holy land of resistance which raised all of our heads high. I am going to my family, my friends and our people there. I bring with me great love from the parents who want to return to Gaza, Haifa, Yafa, Jerusalem and Ramallah. We want to return to all of Palestine and we will definitely return to all of Palestine.... At this moment I will repeat the words of the martyr and leader Abu Ali Mustafa: I come to continue the revolution, to continue resistance, and never to compromise on the constants.... [the right of Palestinians to return] is baptized with the blood of the Palestinian people who will continue to struggle until achieving our goals and our return.”
|The iconic portrait of Leila Khaled taken in the late 1960s.|
|"My People Shall Live"|
|The PFLP was formed out of revolutionary necessity.|