[i]“All men must die, but death can vary in its significance. The ancient Chinese writer Szuma Chien said: ‘Though death befalls all men alike, it may be weightier than Mount Tai or lighter than a feather.’ To die for the people is weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and die for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.” (Mao Zedong, ‘Serve the people’, 1944) [/i]
The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist Leninist) expresses its grief at the loss of Al-Hakim, Dr George Habash, one of the greatest leaders of the Palestinian people, who gave more than six decades of his life to the revolution.
As we express our deep sadness for his death, we also take the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary life of this brilliant and courageous human being.
Founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and a leading Marxist-Leninist for several decades, the essence of Habash’s teachings is as follows:
– The fundamental way to liberation lies through armed struggle and people’s war based on the masses;
– For the national liberation struggle to be successful and carried through to the end it needs to be based on Marxism-Leninism, the scientific world outlook of the working class;
– The oppressed peoples must uphold proletarian internationalism in their struggle for liberation, based on militant unity within and between the three major currents of the world revolutionary process: the socialist countries, the national liberation movements, and the working class movement in the imperialist heartlands.
– The liberation of the nation necessitates the principled and democratic unity of all the forces of the nation even though major differences will also exist and must be struggled over.
Comrade Habash paid close attention to the experience of all the socialist countries and to the revolutionary movement in all parts of the world. Cuba, Vietnam, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were countries close to his heart and with which he and the PFLP forged tight bonds of active solidarity. In the memorial hall for Comrade Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, the Korean comrades proudly display the several awards and medals presented to their great leader by the PFLP over the years.
Under Habash’s leadership, the PFLP also forged close and active ties of combat solidarity with national liberation movements in all parts of the world – the ANC in South Africa, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and the Irish Republican movement, to name but a few, embracing training, material assistance, joint operations and moral encouragement. In the September 1970 hijackings that gave the PFLP worldwide fame, Leila Khaled was joined by Patrick Arguello Ryan, a militant of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and the only martyr of those operations.
Comrade Habash sought to translate into reality, and himself embodied, these inspiring words of Che Guevara, which go to the very essence of proletarian internationalism:
“Let the flag under which we fight be the sacred cause of the liberation of humanity so that to die under the colours of Vietnam, Venezuela, Guatemala, Bolivia, Brazil will be equally glorious and desirable for a Latin American, an Asian, an African and even a European.”
Comrade Al-Hakim always understood national unity as a necessary condition for the continuation of the struggle and the national liberation movement. He argued strongly for the unity of the Palestinian national forces, regardless of differences between the various factions. Despite his differences with Fatah, Habash always maintained good relations with that organisation and with its leader, Yasser Arafat. Lamis Andoni, an analyst for al-Jazeera, notes: “The two men never severed ties and continued a complex relationship of camaraderie and rivalry until the end.”
Such was his standing, and such was the deep respect with which he was held by the Palestinian masses, that the mourning for Comrade Habash has transcended the differences in the Palestinian ranks. President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of national mourning, noting that Habash had dedicated his life to struggling for his people. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said: “Dr George Habash spent all his life struggling for the cause of the Palestinian people.” Islamic Jihad described him as a “real leader” and other Palestinian organisations paying their tributes included the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestine Popular Struggle Front.
As we remember Comrade Habash, we think of the founding statement of the PFLP, which states: [i]“The struggle of the Palestinian people is linked with the struggle of the forces of revolution and progress in the world, the format of the coalition that we face requires a corresponding … coalition including all the forces of anti-imperialism in every part of the world.” [/i]
As communists in Britain, we vow to continue Comrade Habash’s work of building an international anti-imperialist front that will be able to bury imperialism for once and for all.
Long live the memory of Al-Hakim, Dr George Habash.
Victory to the Intifada!