Saturday, September 13, 2008
“Palestine is Arab”—that’s what Saddam Hussein said as the noose tightened right before Islamist Iraqis executed him. Many could dismiss this as “another Arab rant” against the Zionists, or perhaps a “poetic last words,” but Saddam had something else in mind. Saddam was a secular nationalist who made a career out of trying to unite the Arab world under his flag. And what better than this scathing remark to remind his fellow kinsman that by executing him, they were only allowing the West to further divide their once powerful Arab empire.
I bring this up because just this week we heard an echo of Arab nationalism from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who issued a statement saying that it’s finally time to reconcile divisions and form a government before the upcoming Palestinian elections.
Founded by Christians, the PFLP is a nationalist group that in past decades has caught the world’s eye by hijacking airplanes and featuring the exotic female resistance of Leila Khaled. Like Saddam, the PFLP is a pan-Arab band of secularists who are fiercely opposed to Israel. But unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad and many of the other Islamist parties in Palestine, the PFLP has faded from the spotlight in recent years and has suffered from a regional wave towards Islamic politics.
In recent months, Egypt has been brokering “factional negotiations” that this week produced a call for a “national Palestinian document” to bring these factions under one Palestinian banner. But it wasn’t Egypt who led this call, nor Hamas, Fatah and certainly not Islamic Jihad—rather it was Kayed Al-Ghul from the PFLP. He lobbied his fellow Arab’s in Cairo saying it’s time we “clarify points of agreement on ending the Israeli occupation, handling the refugee issue and ending internal division so that Palestinians could form a technocratic government.”
So, with Palestinian elections just around the corner the once familiar call of unity can be heard again—not Islamic parties however, but from the PFLP because after all, it’s long past time for a Palestine united.
Originally published in The Vista, a publication of the University of San Diego
Scribed By Jesse Aizenstat at 9:13 PM