“I will only retire when I go back to Haifa,” claimed Leila Khaled, the ‘icon of Palestinian liberation’, back in 2008. Today, the date of her 70th Birthday, she seems defiant as ever. Having stepped back from the active armed struggle in which she made her name, Khaled is now the Chief of the Department of Refugees and Right of Return for the PFLP, but continues to inspire her supporters and incense her opponents with incendiary rhetoric. Her potential to inspire was in evidence last week when she was interviewed by the Palestinian activist radio station Le Mur a Des Oreilles (and you can listen to the whole thing here). In the interview, which covered a wide range of topics from the Right of Return to the recent Kerry peace talks, Khaled dismissed any suggestion that either she or the PFLP, which recently held its 7th Congress, might be becoming more moderate with age:
No liberation is achieved without resistance. My party has not changed. It has stuck to its original program. We are calling to escalate the resistance. People talk about popular resistance. It does not only mean demonstrations. Using arms is also popular. We have people who are ready to fight. … We do not want more blood, but are obliged to resist. We have the right to live in our homeland.
To celebrate the life, both past and future, of this remarkable Palestinian resistance fighter we are offering you a chance to pick up a copy of Sarah Irving’s excellent biography, Leila Khaled: Icon of Palestinian Liberation (Pluto, 2012) at the discounted price of just £9.99. As Nicholas Blincoe has said, Irving’s book “mixes biography and historical critique to deliver a valuable insight into Leila Khaled’s character as well as her extraordinary appeal as a revolutionary icon” and takes readers from her birth in 1944 to the present day. What better time than now to give it a read?