Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Popular front man

Unjustly notorious for his PFLP's plane hijackings, George Habash gave vital inspiration to the secular democratic strand of modern Arab politics

By Karma Nabulsi
The Guardian

"......An eyewitness to the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of people from his home town of al-Lydd in July 1948, and who was transformed forever by that unhealed event to serve the cause of his people for six decades, Habash provides an essential lesson to Palestinians today. The flourishing of more than one political party in the national arena remains the guarantor of not only democracy, but the proven engine for achieving independence - as long as those parties are driven by principle and not simply a desire for power. A colleague visiting Habash in hospital shortly before he died told him how young Palestinian men from a different political party had just destroyed the walls of Gaza in an audacious act, setting free nearly 2 million people from their intolerable imprisonment. George Habash smiled cheerfully and said: "You see the day will come when these borders will fall and Arab unity will be achieved."

Lucretius celebrated these unforgettable "vitai lampada", the torchbearers who bring new hope to us in each generation, "like runners passing on the lamp of life"."

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