A ‘capitulation of power’, ‘weak’, ‘towards…revolution’ and ‘end the occupation’ “NOW!” Wholly encompasses the self-proclaimed “dialectic materialist”, and her worldview (more on that later), Leila Khaled.
Employing both brevity and breadth, Khaled, has become the icon for Palestinian liberation–and an unabashed Marxist. Claiming that “Palestine for me is Paradise. Religions talk about paradise. For me, Palestine is paradise. It deserves our sacrifices” displaying upfront, her words and actions as a visceral embodiment of the same “dialectics” she espouses. Moreover, going back to her words in the beginning, she describes the entirety of negotiations between Israel and Palestine as “weak” and that Palestine is negotiating from a position of powerlessness instead–calling for revolution to end the occupation, as a showing of “dialectics”, because of her contradictory positions, in that, most would see negotiations as progress but not Khaled. Generally her positions, and her being, are seen as revolutionary but dangerous, groundbreaking but problematic, as a symbol of liberation but also as a “terrorist” but all too characteristic of herself–Khaled is solely committed to Palestinian emancipation, a true sign of a revolutionary.
Born in Haifa, a large northern Israeli city, forcibly joining 6 million other Palestinians in a diaspora of biblical proportions, 4 years after her birth. Settling in Lebanon, ending up in Amman, Jordan today, her family joins the Arab National Movement, where in 1967 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is born. Khaled’s indignation, pre-1967, could not be contained, persuading a Marxist-Leninist group to train her in revolutionary warfare which will–end up as her ‘theory’ and ‘praxis’ for liberation.
Still she was among thousands of refugees who held contempt for the settler-colonial regime, Israel. However in 1969, her name goes down in heroic infamy.
First, in 1969, she along with a comrade of hers hijacked a plane flying to Tel Aviv, forcing it to fly into Damascus, as tactic to free 2 prisoners held by Israel–TWA flight 840 was stolen for the two Israelis on-board as an exchange for the jailed Palestinians. Then again, in 1970, before the brutal crackdown on Palestinian fighters, known as “Black September”, Khaled hijacked another plane but this time it was flying out of EI AI (a well-guarded Israeli airport). Regarded, mildly, as a “success” it led to the freeing of many Palestinian prisoners in Europe but like before, Khaled, was captured by the authorities and her partner, Patrick Arguello, was killed by Israeli guards.
These two events, marred in infamy, lead to the proliferation of the name: Leila Khaled, as the poster-child for resistance.
After 1970, her name no longer appeared daily on news reels, newspaper headlines but her legend had cemented, still apart of the PFLP she has become the voice for revolutionary warfare, socialist revolution and anti-imperialism, in the Middle East. A solid revolutionary by any standards.
Midst the perpetual demonization, Khaled, has posited various ‘controversial’ standpoints, including: her relegation of women’s oppression to the bottom of the symbolic ladder of oppression, as well as, not being an over-zealous advocate for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) and, most well-known, for her adamant stance on armed struggle as necessary for liberation.
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”
Revolutionaries see her either: as a mere nationalist provocateur of violence or a true Marxist (Maoist) revolutionary. The latter being most accurate, her life-long commitment to Palestinian liberation, even superseding its importance over other oppression(s) (i.e. the woman question, etc), risking her life on multiple occasions and her contempt with the process of negotiating for “peace” (an example of “combating liberalism”), are simple criterion for a great revolutionary.
Leila Khaled, consistently defamed, labeled a “terrorist”, as “violent” and oft overshadowed, is the among greatest embodiment of the Palestinian struggle. A sound “dialectic materialist”, opposed to Pan-Arabism, always advocating for a one-state solution–the creation (read: return) of a democratic Palestine for all Arabs–regardless of religious affiliation or familial lineage.
Her life, her image and, in essence, her being is one of bravery, tenacity and revolution, therefore solidarity with Leila Khaled is absolutely unquestionable.
Although, in 2014, Palestinians are still not free; the inspiration that Khaled’s words, action and history provide gives me incredible optimism that our fighters will be free–one day, soon.