A classic English-language interview of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader, Al-Hadaf founder and editor and renowned Palestinian writer, novelist and artist, creative thinker of the Palestinian revolution, Comrade Ghassan Kanafani, has resurfaced in recent days.
The video below, of an interview between Australian journalist Richard Carleton and Kanafani, filmed in Beirut, was recently uncovered by the journalist’s son, James Carlton, and distributed on Facebook:
The video has been widely shared and distributed. Comrade Kanafani was assassinated in 1972 by a car bomb placed by the Mossad at his home in Beirut, alongside his niece Lamis. A full transcript of the video is below, provided by comrades:
Interview with Ghassan Kanafani by Richard Carleton for Australian TV
Commentator: ‘Beirut is the most Westernized of all Arab capitals. The evidence of the French colonial period here is as stark as it is in Quebec. In the days of the French, Beirut was the Mediterranean tourist paradise. Still, there are traces of this slowly disappearing past spender. But as surely as the Middle East turmoil keeps away the tourists, it keeps away the business too. Especially the banking business that has made Beirut the financial capital of the Middle East. Now, the Lebanese army has tanks and armored cars permanently stationed on the footpaths outside all bank buildings in the capital. Taking the place of the timid business executive in Beirut, a new business has developed – revolution. Palestinian revolution.
Palestinian guerillas in Beirut are not like the Vietcong. Here, they are in no way illicit. They are totally legitimate. In Beirut’s main street, the biggest guerilla movement has a three story office building complete with all amenities. It is as modern as any in Sydney. But the machine gun toting guerillas standing guard outside told me ‘no photos’, and there was no arguing. Of the eleven Palestinian guerilla movements, the most radical of all is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the PFLP. The Popular Front is now so well organized that it even has its own daily newspaper with a claim circulation of 23.000. It was the Popular Front that hijacked and blew up three jet aircrafts at Revolution Airport at the Jordanian desert. And it was the Popular Front that dynamited the Pan-American jumbo at Cairo.
The Beirut leader of the Popular Front is Ghassan Kanafani. He was born in Palestine but fled in 1948, as he puts it, from Zionist terror. Since then, he has been plotting the destruction of both the Zionists and the reactionary Arabs.’
Kanafani: ‘What I know really is that the history of the world is always the history of weak people fighting strong people. Of weak people who have a correct case fighting strong people who use their strength to exploit the weak.’
C: ‘Turn to the fighting that has been going on in Jordan in the recent weeks. Your organization, that has been on one side of the fight, what has it achieved?’
K: ‘One thing: that we have a case to fight for. That is very much. This people, the Palestinian people, prefer to die standing than to lose its case. We achieved proving that the king (of Jordan) is wrong. We achieved proving that this nation is going to continue fighting until victory. We achieved that our people can never be defeated. We achieved teaching every single person in this world that we are a small brave nation who are going to fight until the last drop of blood to put justice for ourselves, after the world failed in giving it to us. This is what we achieved.’
C: ‘It does seem that the war, the civil war (in Jordan) has been quite fruitless…’
Kanafani interrupts: ‘It is not a civil war. It is a people themselves against a fascist government which you are defending just because King Hussain (of Jordan) has a Arab passport. It is not a civil war.’
C: ‘Or a conflict…’
Kanafani interrupts again: ‘It is not a conflict. It is a liberation movement fighting for justice.’
C: ‘Well, whatever if might be…’
Kanafani interrupts again: ‘It is not “whatever”. Because this is where the problem starts. Because this is what makes you ask all your questions. This is exactly where the problem starts. This is a people who is discriminated is fighting for their rights. This is the story. If you will say it is a civil war then your questions are justified. If it is a conflict then of course it is a surprise to know what is happening.’
C: ‘Why won’t your organization engage in peace talks with the Israelis?’
K: ‘You don’t mean exactly “peace talks”. You mean capitulation. Surrendering.
C: ‘Why not just talk?’
K: ‘Talk to whom?’
C: ‘Talk to the Israeli leaders.’
K: ‘That is kind of a conversation between the sword and the neck, you mean?’
C: ‘Well, if there are no swords and no guns in the room, you could still talk.’
K: ‘No. I have never seen any talk between a colonialist and a national liberation movement.’
C: ‘But despite this, why not talk?’
K: ‘Talk about what?’
C: ‘Talk about the possibility of not fighting.’
K: ‘Not fighting for what?’
C: ‘No fighting at all. No matter what for.’
K: ‘People usually fight for something. And they stop fighting for something. So you can’t even tell me why we should speak about what. Why should we talk about stopping to fight?’
C: ‘Talk to stop fighting to stop the death and the misery, the destruction and the pain.’
K: ‘The misery and the destruction the pain and the death of whom?’
C: ‘Of Palestinians. Of Israelis. Of Arabs.’
K: ‘Of the Palestinian people who are uprooted, thrown in the camps, living in starvation, killed for twenty years and forbidden to use even the name “Palestinians”?’
C: ‘They are better that way than dead though.’
K: ‘Maybe to you. But to us, it’s not. To us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our mere human rights is something as essential as life itself.
C: ‘You call King Hussain a fascist. Who else amongst the Arab leaders are you totally opposed to?’
K: ‘We consider the Arab governments two kinds. Something we call reactionaries, who are completely connected with the imperialists, like King Hussain government, like Saudi Arabia government, like Moroccan government, Tunisian government. And then we have some other Arab governments which we call the military petit-bourgeoisie governments. That’s like Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and so on.
C: ‘Just to end with, let me get back to the hijacking of the aircraft. On reflection, do you that is now a mistake?’
K: ‘We did not make a mistake in hijacking in the context. We did one of the most correct things we ever did.