Leila Khaled

Red Youth salutes the revolutionary women of the world! Our young cadre will be publishing short pieces all this week to celebrate our revolutionary heroines in the run up to International Women’s Day. Today, Comrade Adam, aged 12, discusses Leila Khaled.

Red Youth will be meeting to celebrate International Women’s Day on 9 March, at 1.00pm, at the CPGB-ML party centre 274 Moseley Road, Highgate, Birmingham.

In the beginning, all women had to prove that we could be equal to men in armed struggle. So we wanted to be like men – even in our appearance … I no longer think it’s necessary to prove ourselves as women by imitating men.

I have learned that a woman can be a fighter, a freedom fighter, a political activist, and that she can fall in love, and be loved, she can be married, have children, be a mother … Revolution must mean life also; every aspect of life.

– Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She was born on 9 April 1944 in Haifa, Palestine. She and her family fled to Lebanon during the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe), leaving her father behind.

At the age of 15, following in the footsteps of her brother, Leila joined the radical Arab Left Nationalist Movement, originally started in the late 1940s by Comrade George Habash. The Palestinian branch of this movement became the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Leila Khaled with portrait
Leila Khaled with a portrait of her younger self

Comrade Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking of the TWA Flight 840, which aimed to publicise Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians. On its way from Rome to Athens, she and her comrades diverted a plane to Damascus. She ordered the pilot to fly over Haifa, so she could see her birth place, which she could not return to. No one was injured, but the aircraft was blown up after all the hostages had disembarked.

After this high-profile operation, Leila underwent six plastic surgery operations on her nose and chin to conceal her identity and allow her to take part in a future hijacking – and because she did not want to wear the face of an icon.

On 6 September 1970, Leila and Patrick Arguello, a Nicaraguan, attempted the hijack of Israeli El-al flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York as part of the Dawson Field hijackings – a series of almost simultaneous hijackings carried out by the PLFP. The attack was foiled when Israeli sky marshals killed Arguello and overpowered Khaled. Although she was carrying two hand grenades at the time, Khaled had received very strict instructions not to threaten passengers on the civilian flight.

The pilot diverted the aircraft to Heathrow airport in London, where Leila was delivered to Ealing police station. On 1 October, the British government released her as part of a prisoner exchange. The next year, the PFLP abandoned the tactic of hijacking, although splinter movements continued to hijack airplanes.

Leila Khaled in Damascus
Leila Khaled, defiant, in Damascus

Speaking about Palestinian freedom fighters such as comrade Khaled, and the many martyrs and soldiers of the PFLP and PLO, the legendary George Habash said these words:

I remember each of the martyrs, one by one, and without exception – those martyrs to whom we are indebted, for whom we must continue the struggle, holding fast to the dream and holding fast to hope, and protecting the rights of the people for whom they shed their blood. Their children and their families have a right to be honoured and cared for. This is the least we can do for those blazing stars in the skies of our homeland.

I also remember now the heroic prisoners in the jails of the occupation and the prisons of the Palestinian Authority – those militants who remind us morning and night of our patriotic duty by the fact that they are still there behind bars and by the fact that the occupation still squats on our chests. Each prisoner deserves the noblest signs of respect …

Now permit me to express my gratitude to all the comrades who have worked with me and helped me, whether in the Arab Nationalist Movement or in the Popular Front. They stood beside me during the hardest conditions and the darkest of times, and they were a great help and support for me. Without them I would not have been able to carry out my responsibilities. They have been true comrades, in all that the word implies.

Those comrades helped to create a congenial atmosphere, an environment of political, theoretical, and intellectual interaction that enabled me to do all that was required. Those comrades have a big place in my heart and mind. I offer all my thanks and appreciation to each one of them by name. In addition, to the comrades who vigilantly guarded me, looking out for my safety, all these long years, I offer my gratitude …

As a last word, I feel it necessary to say that I know well that the goals for which I worked and struggled have not yet been attained. And I cannot say how or when they will be attained. But on the other hand, I know in light of my study of the march of history in general, and of Arab and Palestinian history in particular, that they will be attained.

In spite of this bitter truth, I leave my task as General Secretary of the Front with a contented mind and conscience. My conscience is content because I did my duty and worked with the greatest possible effort and with complete and deep sincerity. My mind is content because throughout my working years, I continually based myself on the practice of self-criticism.

It is important to say also that I will pay close attention to all your observations and assessments of the course taken by the Popular Front while I was its General Secretary. I must emphasise that with the same close attention, if not with greater attention, I will follow and take to heart the observations and assessments of the Palestinian and Arab people on this course and my role in it.

My aim in this closing speech has been to say to you – and not only to you, but to all the detainees, or those who experienced detention, to the families of the martyrs, to the children of the martyrs, to those who were wounded, to all who sacrificed and gave for the cause – that your sacrifice has not been in vain. The just goals and legitimate rights which they have struggled and given their lives for will be attained, sooner or later. I say again that I don’t know when, but they will be attained.

And my aim, again and again, is to emphasise the need for you to persist in the struggle to serve our people, for the good of all Palestinians and Arabs – the good that lies in a just and legitimate cause, as it does in the realisation of the good for all those who are oppressed and wronged.

You must always be of calm mind, and of contented conscience, with a strong resolve and a steel will, for you have been and still are in the camp of justice and progress, the camp whose just goals will be attained and which will inevitably attain its legitimate rights. For these are the lessons of history and reality, and no right is lost as long as there is someone fighting for it.

Khaled continued to return to Britain for speaking engagements until as late as 2002, although she was refused a visa by the British embassy in 2005 to address a meeting at the Féile an Phobail in Belfast, where she was invited as a speaker.

She is now married to the physician Fayez Rashid Hilal, and today lives with their two sons Bader and Bashar in Gaza, Palestine, where she currently serves on the Palestinian National Council.

Leila Khaled on the PNC
Leila Khaled currently serves on the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation

Comrade Leila was the subject of a film entitled Leila Khaled, Hijacker. The documentary film Hijacker – The Life of Leila Khaled was directed by Palestinian filmmaker, Lina Makboul.

Laila Khaled will always be remembered as a freedom fighter who stood up against the oppression of her country’s people. She fought against Israel and imperialism and for the liberation of Palestine.

29th June, Armed forces day

British "freedom Fighters" in Malaysia
British “freedom Fighters” in Malaysia

A day when people come together to celebrate British imperialism

This year it was like any other, events up and down the country filled with flag waving members of the working class, and in Manchester a delusional youth cadet force who believe that they are fighting for “our freedom”. CPGB-ML north west regional members arrived in Manchester to leaflet on topics like the NHS and the Bedroom tax; comrades always do this at the public area of Piccadilly gardens. When we went into Piccadilly gardens comrades hadn’t even given out a leaflet when members were harassed by private security. One very brave private security guard of 30 squared up to one of our 16 year old youth members and pushed him back out of Piccadilly gardens without even asking them to leave. We oppose all thuggish behaviour by these corporate ‘police’.  To make things worse some women then came to our comrades shouting abuse at them, comrades tried to explain that they were campaigning on the NHS but the women were adamant they were there “disrespecting the soldiers”! When comrades asked how they were “disrespecting the soldiers” no reply was given and they just walked off looking upset that there were no ‘lefties’ to bash, insult or scream at. A man who claimed he was an ex-soldier then squared up to our younger comrades and made threats, with the public passers-by watching, the comrade refused to leave the public space which only made this man even more angry! Once more our members patiently explained they were giving out NHS leaflets which were even handed to him! He either had difficulty reading or he had no time for reasoned argument and seemed not to care a jot! Our comrades were pushed, and one young member had his glasses broken!

We would like to take this moment to say thanks to the elderly women and other members of the public who stepped in and confronted this mad man and these thugs. The behaviour of the cadets was as shocking as it was pitiful as they stood laughing at the man being confrontational, with one member of the public even turning to the cadets and saying “Shame on you”.

When the situation died down we spoke to the cadets who claimed they support freedom and that soldiers fight for freedom! Despite their love of freedom they insisted they had a right to have us thrown out of a public space! The hypocrisy from these brave defenders of freedom is plain for all to see!

We say this quite clear

Shame on you British Army

And shame on you British Cadets

The working class shall defend our freedoms!

 

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NHS commissioning groups a cruel 1 April ‘joke’

 

former ANC activist heads to London

After three excellent talks in Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds, comrade Kadalie will speak in London this Saturday on his life struggle in the anti-apartheid struggle, his hopes and vision for Africa in the 21st century.

:: About Comrade Khwezi ::

Khwezi Kadalie was a fighter in the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa and is a lifelong communist and marxist-leninist revolutionary.

His grandfather organised the first all-black trade union in South Africa (the Commercial and Industrial Workers Union of Africa). A qualified typesetter and printer, Khwesi was arrested by the Apartheid secret police shortly after the 1976 Soweto uprising. He was tortured for four months.

After prison, Khwezi worked for the ANC in the diplomatic service and the information department in Germany and Britain. After the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations he served the movement in different capacities and between 2000 and 2005 he worked in the Department of Trade and Industry in a senior position.

Since 2006, together with other comrades, he has built the Marxist Workers School in South Africa. Today he works as a journalist for communist and working-class newspapers and magazines around the world.

Khwezi’s talk will touch on the important lessons he draws from his time in the movement and his feelings about the present fight against the recolonisation of Africa.

LONDON: Saturday 11 February, 6.00pm
Saklatvala Hall, Dominion Road, Southall, UB2 5AA

venue: Saklatvala Hall map

:: READ ABOUT AFRICA AND IMPERIALISM ::

Imperialism steps up its moves to recolonise Africa (Proletarian, December 2011)
US and European interference in African affairs assuredly did not begin with the assassination of Libya, but that crime marks the onset of a renewed and most desperate effort to turn the clock back to the days of the most brazen colonialist meddling.
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=773

Communists and the struggle against imperialism (Proletarian, December 2011)
With imperialism convulsed with crisis and hurtling towards new and ever more dangerous wars of aggression, the work of reuniting and reinvigorating the entire international communist movement on a principled and revolutionary basis is one which will brook no further delay.
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=778

Ivory Coast: No recolonisation of Africa! (Lalkar, May 2011)
The violent overthrow of Ivory Coast’s government by French imperialism, in cahoots with northern rebel militia and with the hypocritical blessing of the UN, signals not the end but the beginning of yet another round of cruel civil strife inflicted on the Ivorian people by imperialism.
http://lalkar.org/issues/contents/may2011/ivorycoast.html

South Africa: the fight for equality continues (Lalkar, May 2010)
The struggle against Apartheid was an important step along the road to emancipation for South Africa’s poor majority, but this does not mean that all those who fought against Apartheid want to carry on to a socialist revolution. Black skin does not, any more than white skin, come with a guarantee of common sense, social conscience or saintliness attached.
http://lalkar.org/issues/contents/may2010/southafrica.html

Ethinic cleansing in Nato’s ‘new’ Libya (Proletarian, December 2011)
More than 100 militia brigades from Misrata have been operating outside of any official military and civilian command since Tripoli fell in August. Members of these militias have engaged in torture, pursued suspected enemies far and wide, detained them and shot them in detention. They have stated that the entire displaced population of one town, Tawergha, who are largely descendants of African slaves, cannot return home.
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=774

Africans need true independence not imperialist ‘charity’ (Proletarian, August 2005)
The US and European monopoly capitalists are shedding crocodile tears over the havoc they have wrought in their latest scramble for Africa, but the African people will find that charity is no substitute for revolutionary struggle to attain true independence and freedom.
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=118

After the xenophobic violence South Africa will never be the same again (Lalkar, July 2008)
The 11th of March 2008 will go down in the history of our country as the day of national shame. It is the day a pogrom against foreign workers started in Alexandra and then spread from township to township, squatter camp to squatter camp, and from one town to the next.
http://lalkar.org/issues/contents/jul2008/safrica.php

Chimurenga! The liberation struggle in Zimbabwe (Proletarian, August 2005)
“The struggle in Zimbabwe and indeed in southern Africa as a whole has never been against the white man per se. It is not a struggle for exclusive African rights. On the contrary, our struggle is against an unjust system — a system of exploitation, oppression and racial discrimination. It is a struggle for human equality and dignity. The struggle, as we see it, is fundamentally between the exploiting class and the exploited class.” — Robert Mugabe
http://www.cpgb-ml.org/index.php?secName=proletarian&subName=display&art=111

:: WATCH VIDEOS ABOUT AFRICA AND IMPERIALISM ::

Flowers and famine in Ethiopia
Comrade Mohammad Hassan of the PTB (Belgian Workers’ Party) delivers a powerful speech condemning the puppet regime of Ethiopia for selling his country to imperialism, and engineering a famine with its pro-imperialist policy and at the behest of US/British imperialism.
http://youtu.be/0TJZP0p5NcM

Famine in the midst of plenty: the truth about the world food crisis
Comrade Ella Rule explains that although enough food is produced globally to make every person on the planet FAT, the inequality of distribution built into capitalism means that vast amounts are wasted, millions are overfed and obese in the West, while hundreds of millions starve in the rest of the world. These problems can be fixed, but not by capitalism.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2iVKzTcbHA&feature=youtu.be]

China’s meaning to African freedom fighters
Comrade Kojo Gotfreid, former Ghanian liberation fighter and ambassador to China, recounts meeting Mao and the inspiration drawn by African anti-colonial liberation fighters from China’s successful liberation struggle and building of a bright new socialist future.
http://youtu.be/RJhlWzFGcS8

Guinea Bissau revolutionary comrade on Libya’s role in Africa
Comrade Teodora Ignacia Gomez of the PAIGC, the party that liberated Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde, outlines the supportive relationship that Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya had fostered both with her country and other African nations. Libya had tried to bring about sustainable infrastructural and agricultural development in Guinea Bissau, she tells us, both through the African Bank and through independently granted aid.
http://youtu.be/xcBTxFy0ql8

Gaddafi tribute in London
In the 42 years of his leadership, the Libyan people rose from being literally the poorest on earth, to the wealthiest and most egalitarian in Africa. Contrary to the vile assertions of the western media, Colonel Gaddafi faced his executioners, vile mercenaries and unthinking tools of Nato imperialism, as the proud defender of independent and free Libya. He died a hero’s death in battle, facing his enemies with steely resolve, and refusing to desert his post, his country or his people at their hour of greatest need.
http://youtu.be/t8AhEiTQTJs

Zimbabwe speaks
Anastancia Ndhlovu, Zimbabwe’s youngest MP, speaks to a British correspondent about Zimbabwe at the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in Pretoria, South Africa. She addresses many issues including Robert Mugabe’s ongoing leadership, the MDC’s role in coalition government, British and US sanctions and Chinese economic involvement in the country.
http://youtu.be/GxgYljL6ns4

Africa: black nationalism, capitalism or socialism?
Comrade Ajamu of the A-APRP talks about his ideological development from black nationalism to socialism, and discusses, in particular, the experience of the African national liberation struggles. With reference to the experiences of Ghana, Nkhrumah, Sekou Toure, and others, he underlines the lesson that capitalism has failed Africa.
http://youtu.be/tnOGQUI-530