[”A Profile from the Archives“ is a new series published by Jadaliyya in both Arabic and English in cooperation with the Lebanese newspaper, Assafir. These profiles will feature iconic figures who left indelible marks in the politics and culture of the Middle East and North Africa.]
Known as: Habash
Date of birth: 1926
Date of death: 2008
Name of wife: Hilda Habash
Date of marriage: 1961
Academic degree: PhD in medicine
Profession: Doctor- Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
- Born in the city of Lid on 2 August 1926 from an orthodox family that worked in trade.
- Worked to found the Pan Arab Nationalists movement in 1952.
- Finished his primary and high school in Java and Jerusalem, joined the College of Medicine at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1944. He graduated as a pediatrician in 1951. He was a political activist during his studies.
- Returned to Jordan after graduation and opened his own clinic in one of the camps. He used to treat patients, along with his friend Wadee Haddad, for free.
- Took part in founding "The Arab Fida`a Brigades" which called for Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine. This group tried to assassinate Adeeb Al-Shaishakly and was dissolved as a result.
- One of the founders of "Alurwa Alwuthqa" group at AUB, which was motivated by Prof. Qustantine Zuraiq. The executive committee of this group was considered the nucleus of "Al-Shabiba Al-Arabiya" organization that came to existence in 1951 and issued "Al-Tha`ar" periodical. This organization held its first conference in 1956 under the chairmanship of George Habash. "The Arab Nationalists" movement emerged from this conference. Some of the prominent figures of this movement are Wadee Haddad, Hani Al-Hindi, and Ahmad Al-Khateeb.
- Published "Al-Ray" newspaper in Jordan but Glob Pasha, the Jordanian army commander then, closed it.
- Ran in the parliamentary elections in Jordan in August 1956, but did not win.
- "The Arab Nationalists" were accused of carrying out several bombings in Jordan in 1957. He was forced to go into hiding. He fled to Damascus in 1958. The Jordanian courts issued default judgment sentencing him to thirty-three years in prison.
- Stayed in Damascus during the time of unity between Syrian and Egypt. The "Arab Nationalists" strongly supported President Gamal Abdul Naser at that time. One of its founders, Hani Al-Hindi, held a ministerial post and members of the group enjoyed a lot of power and freedom to move.
- Met his wife, Hilda Habash, a relative of his, in 1960 in Jerusalem.
- Married in Damascus early 1961. Among the guests in his wedding were: Wadee Haddad, Al-Hakam Darwaza, Ahmad Al-Tawalba, Tayseer Qubba`a, Hani Al-Hindi, Muhsin Ebrahim, and Khalid Abu Aisha, the first martyr of the PFLP.
- His first daughter, Maysa, was born in Damascus in 1961, when he was in prison. His second daughter, Luma, was born in Jerusalem In 1966.
- After the secession of Syria from the union, he stayed In Damascus. In 1964, the leadership of the province in Palestine of "The Arab Nationalists," which he assumed with Wadee Haddad and Ahmad Yamani, was transferred to the PFLP. The official declaration of the establishment of the front was delayed to 1967. The front consisted of three groups: Abtal Al-Awda, Shabab Al-Thaar, and the Palestinian Liberation Front (established by Ahmad Jebril in 1964).
- Fled Syrian persecution to Beirut In 1964.
- Returned to Syria after the 23rd of February movement in 1966, which brought a new command to power in Syria, and toppled President Amin Al-Hafith and Michelle Aflaq.
- Was arrested in Damascus in 1968 for seven months. Wadee Haddad organized an operation to rescue him; he and his men dressed as policemen, attacked the convoy carrying him from prison to the court, and managed to rescue his friend and smuggle him to Lebanon. He traveled later to Cairo where he met with President Nasser.
- His leadership of the PFLP faced conflicts and four defections:
- The defection led by Ahmad Jibril in August 1968, which produced "The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-The General Command."
- The defection of Nayef Hawatmeh on 22 February 1972, and the establishment of "The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine."
- The defection of the "Revolutionary Front for The Liberation of Palestine" on 6 March 1972, under the leadership of several cadres including "Abu Shehab."
- The defection of a group led by Abu Nidal Musallami, the front`s official in Gaza in 1994. This group did not take another name and was for the Gaza-Jericho first agreement with some reservations and called for the return to Gaza and the West Bank.
- He deserted the traditional pan-Arab Ideology and announced that he and the front follow Marxist-Leninist ideology after the 1967 defeat. Following this announcement, he toured China, the Soviet Union, and North Korea. He made a statement in which he said that Arab struggle should be based on an Arab "Hanoi" to be its strategic dimension. He, along with his friend Wadee Haddad, came up with a slogan saying that the enemy should be tracked everywhere. Haddad translated this slogan in the form of consecutive operations against Israeli planes. New names emerged among the people who carried out such operations like Layla Khalid and Amina Dahbour.
- He kept strong ties with President Nasser until July 1970, when President Nasser accepted the Rogers plan.
- The operation carried out by the foreign operations apparatus under the leadership of Wadee Haddad, in which four planes were hijacked in 1970, gave the pretext to King Hussein to start his battle against the Fedayeen. The clashes were known later as "Black September" and led to the departure of Palestinian Fedayeen from Amman.
- Moved to Beirut in 1971 after the forces of the Palestinian revolution relocated in the south and the camps of Beirut.
- Announced on 13 March 1972, the strategy of hijacking airplanes was halted because it conflicted with the International Alliances of the Front.
- Rejected in 1974 the idea of establishing an independent Palestinian state on part of the Palestinian land.
- He made a crucial contribution in establishing "The Anti-Peace Settlements Palestinian Powers Front," which allied with Iraq and included the PFLP, the Arab Liberation Front, the Popular Palestinian Struggle Front, and the Palestinian Liberation Front.
- Announced the withdrawal of his organization from the executive committee of the PLO in protest against the new political course of the organization, which was known as the "ten points" plan and was endorsed by the tenth National Palestinian Council.
- Played a significant role in establishing the "Arab Socialist Workers Party" in Lebanon.
- Israel tried to kidnap and kill him several times. A plane was hijacked on 10 August 1973, at the time of takeoff from Beirut to Baghdad because the Israelis thought he was among the passengers.
- He had brain surgery in AUB in 1980.
- He left Beirut in August 1982 with the Palestinian forces. He stayed in Damascus since then and joined the opposition of Yasir Arafat.
- He took part in establishing the Palestinian National Salvation Front based in Damascus, which included several organizations opposing the leadership of the PLO.
- He toured the Gulf states in June 1985, the first in his political history. He used to call the Gulf states regressive. The enemies of the Front were according to the slogan: Imperialism, Zionism, and Regression.
- He opposed the Amman agreement between the PLO and Jordan signed in February 1986 and called for its annulment.
- Had a significant role in leading the First Intifada in 1987.
- Returned to Amman in 1990 after twenty years of absence to take part in the popular conference to support Iraq during the Gulf War.
- He had a stroke in Tunisia on 17 January 1992. He was taken to a hospital in France which stirred a national political furor and forced three officials to resign: The secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francois Scheer, the office manager of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kessedjian, and the office manager of the Minister of Interior, Christian Figuru. Accused of terrorism, a few French apparatuses tried to issue an arrest warrant against Habash.
- His supporters and Palestinian revolution fighters called him "Al-Hakeem" (the wise man).
- He came to Beirut on 26 July 1999, to take part in the celebration of granting the Gamal Abdul Nasder award to Muhammad Hassanein Haikal, by the center for Arab Unity Studies. This was his first visit since 1982.
- Rejected Yassir Arafat`s call to meet with him in Cairo on 1 August 1999. He said that his condition to hold negotiations with him is to undo the amendment of the Palestinian National charter. But the PFLP had already made a decision to hold negotiations with Arafat and sent Habash`s deputy, Abu Ali Mustafa to Cairo on 31 July 1999 for this purpose.
- Resigned from the secretariat general of the PFLP on 1 May 1 2000 during the sixth conference of the front.
- Visited Lebanon and met with President Lahoud on 3 July 2000. He also met with former PM Al-Hes on 4 July 2000.
- He denounced the Israeli aggression against Archbishop Atallah in the holy land in 2000.
- He sent a letter to Hasan Nasrallah, the secretary General of Hizbullah, congratulating him on the victory of 2006.
- He died on 26 January 2008.
Stands and Views
- "The defeat of 1967 is not just a military setback, it is a defeat of Arab situations, and a defeat of military regimes, and also an intentional defeat to the Arab nationalistic movement." Al-Hadaf 6 September 1970.
- "We decided to stop hijacking airplanes because it contradicts our Arab and international alliances." Al-Nahar 15 March 1972.
- "The policies of the surrendering regimes will produce a new rooted national liberation movement. The duty of the Palestinian revolution is to ally with these forces and not with the falling regimes." Al-Hadaf 3 March 1974.
- "Declaring the end of war with Israel is a flagrant treason and the PLO has moved along the Saudi-Egyptian path." Al-Nahar 26 October 1974.
- "We call on the Soviets to reconsider their wrongful stance of recognizing the Zionist entity." 16 May 1975.
- "If Syria Is working to get some support to join the settlement process, then the masses will curse the Syrian regime just like they are cursing the Egyptian regime now." 10 September 1975.
- "The PLO and the front of rejection are unified in the battle in Lebanon. The presence of the Palestinians has not affected the sovereignty of the country." 22 January 1976.
- "We have no relationship with Resolution 242. It is irrelevant to us as a revolution." Ela Al-Amam 16 June 16 1978.
- "We agree with Syria on fighting Sadat`s path." A statement made on his first visit to Syria after ten years. Al-Nahar 22 September 1978.
- "The political approach of the PLO paved the way and provided cover for Sadat." Al-Nahar 5 October 1979.
- "Since Sadat promised the Egyptian people prosperity and linked to the surrender of Egypt and the economic cooperation with Israel, then we should deprive him from these illusions of millions of dollars...Egypt should be put on the same level of Israel and the USA." Africazy 14 May 1979.
- "Autonomy is the worst solution to end the Palestinian cause." Al-Anba`a 14 June 1979.
- "No to the Palestinian state if the price will be the continuation of the existence of Israel." Al-Anba`a 14 June 1979.
- "I announce our full support of Imam Khomeni based on his animosity to American imperialism and Israel, but let`s wait and see." Al-Safeer 9 July 1979.
- "Any Arab regime that conspires against the Islamic Revolution in Iran is working against the will of the Arab people." 3 May 1980.
- "The battle of Beirut proved that out Palestinian and Lebanese people have enough resilience to defeat the vicious American aggression." 16 December 16 1982.
- "The Palestinian work in Syria cannot be similar to how it was in Lebanon because the security of Syria is important." Al-Mustaqbal 13 August 1983.
- "We refuse the military return to Lebanon with the same mistakes of the past. The Palestinian military presence has to be under the command of the Lebanese national forces." 2 February 1984.
- "What is happening in Beirut (the war on the camps) by the troops of Amal could not have been done without a Syrian green light." 11 June 1985.
- "Our military presence and our right to fight Israel is the only demand we have In Lebanon." Al-Shiraa 21 April 1986.
- "We refuse to stop the fight against Israel to protect South of Lebanon."
- "We cannot say no to a solution our big friend is Moscow is working on." Al-Nahar Al-Arabi and Al-Dawli 26 January 1987.
- "It is our right to fight Israel across all Arab borders and we will fight to open all of them for us." Al-Usboo Al-Arabi 15 February 1988.
- "The solution of all aspects of the Palestinian cause cannot be achieved unless we have an international peace convention to recognize the independent Palestinian state and the return of Palestinians to their homeland." 11 February 1989.
- "The immigration of Jews places the people and regimes of the Arab nation under a big and serious challenge that needs steps proportional to these dimensions. I call on the Soviet President to stop the immigration of the Soviet Jews to the occupied territories." Al-Hayat 9 April 1990.
- "We seek to abort the current settlement because we see it as a settlement that does not line with the legitimate rights of our people. Instead, we see it as a settlement aimed at depriving us from these rights." Al-Hayat 19 March 1993.
- "The Gaza-Jericho agreement surpassed the results of Camp David." Al-Nahar 18 December 1993.
- "Carlos is a global fighter who joined the Front out of his revolutionary convictions and our people will remember this favor for him and for all the decent fighters like him. The accusation of terrorism does not intimidate us." Al-Wasat 21 November 1994.
- "Palestinians should not interfere in Lebanese internal affairs. In this stage there should be no Palestinian military struggle based in Lebanon, we want support for our armed struggle to return." Al-Safeer 28 July 1999.
- He said in a statement issued on 17 January 2002 that the arrest of Ahmad Sa`adat, the secretary general of the PFLP, is a prelude to other steps aimed at destroying the PLO as a national coalition and will gradually lead to the abortion of the Intifada.
[This article was translated from the Arabic by Ali Adeeb Alnaemi. Click here for the Arabic text.]