Leila Khaled: icon of Palestinian liberation

Posted on 10 July 2012

My wonderful friend Sarah Irving has recently published her third book, a biography of Leila Khaled. She’s held a couple of book launches in the UK, J spoke at the one in London, and thanks to serendipity, happened to have book launches organised in Palestine while we are here! She asked J to speak again at the one in Bethlehem, which was last night.

As the book is in English, and the event was being conducted in English, it’s unsurprising that the audience was, bar three or four people, internationals. The launch was held at the AIC in Beit Sahour, and it was a great opportunity for me to go back and see a few old faces from when I lived there over a decade ago!

The launch went really well, J spoke in very personal terms the impact Leila Khaled and the PFLP had on him and his peers growing up in a refugee camp. He explained that in the camp they had nothing, really nothing, so the PFLP offered a second home. A place to be active, to experience life and talk about it, a place of safety and a place to grow, and obviously a place in which to become politicised. And Leila Khaled, the young and beautiful Palestinian woman with a gun who forced the world to look at Palestine when she twice hijacked planes, she was a second mother-figure for them.

After Sarah spoke a little and read a few pieces from the book, she and Jamal had a conversation about Leila, how the book came to be written, the PFLP and the left, and quite a few other things! Then the audience contributed their questions for Sarah and Jamal to respond to. It was a great atmosphere and went really well, for everyone.

I’ve read the book and it is a wonderful piece of writing. I’m so glad that Sarah was inspired to write it. It’s easy to view Leila as an icon, as a figurehead, as someone almost not real. But the book conveys such a softness and humanity about her, her humour and her stubbornness, she becomes a very real person.  It’s the story of a young girl wrenched from her beloved Haifa and destined to live an extraordinary life. Sarah has done justice to that story.

You can buy the book here, it’s well worth it.


1 Response to Leila Khaled: icon of Palestinian liberation

  • [...] newspaper. The events have also inspired some thoughtful blog posts, from Tristan Laing and from Georgina Reeves. Thanks to Susannah Tarbush at The Tanjara, there’s also a new review to add to the list. [...]

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