George Habash


George Habash

Infobox revolution biography
name=George Habash
dateofbirth=birth date|1926|8|2
placeofbirth=Lydda, British Mandate of Palestine
dateofdeath=death date and age|2008|1|26|1926|8|2
placeofdeath=Amman, Jordan


caption=
alternate name=al-Hakim (The Wise or the Doctor), Abu Maysa
movement=Arab nationalism, Marxism-Leninism
organizations=Arab Nationalist Movement Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
monuments=
prizes=
religion=Greek Orthodox Christianity
influences=Nasserism
influenced=
footnotes=

George Habash ( _ar. جورج حبش) also known by his kunya "al-Hakim" (Arabic:الحكيم — "the wise one" or "the doctor") (August 2, 1926January 26, 2008), was a Palestinian freedom fighter. Habash, a Palestinian Christian, founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was the organization's Secretary-General until 2000.

A refugee, Habash graduated from medical school though his interests remained in politics. He held a firm belief that Palestine must be liberated by all possible means, including through violence. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7211395.stm BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Palestinian radical founder dies ] ] In an effort to recruit the Arab World to this cause, Habash founded the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1951 and aligned the organization with Gamal Abdel Nasser's Arab nationalist ideology. He was a leading member of the Palestine Liberation Organization until 1967, when a coalition of Arab states was defeated by Israel in the Six-Day War and Habash was sidelined by Fatah leader Yasser Arafat. In response, Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 1970, Habash was evicted from Jordan due to the key role of the Popular Front in the Black September clashes. In 1974, the Palestinian National Council adopted a resolution recognizing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Habash, who opposed this, formed the Rejectionist Front from several other opposition parties.Habash aligned the PFLP with the PLO and the Lebanese National Movement, but stayed neutral during the Lebanese Civil War in the late 1970s. After a stroke in 1980, when he was living in Damascus, his health declined and other PFLP members rose to the top.

After the Oslo Agreements, Habash formed another opposition alliance consisting of Rejectionist Front members and Islamist organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, that became prominent during the First Intifada. In 2000, he resigned from his leadership post of the PFLP due to poor health and was succeeded by Abu Ali Mustafa. He continued to be an activist for the group until 2008, when he died of a heart attack in Amman.

Early life

Habash was born in Lydda (today's Lod) to a Greek Orthodox Palestinian family. [ [http://www.al-bab.com/arab/countries/palestine/biogCM.htm Arab Gateway: Palestine Who's Who (C-M) ] ] Habash, a medical student at the American University of Beirut, was visiting his family during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. In July 1948, the Israeli military captured Lydda from Jordanian and Arab Liberation Army forces. Upon Lydda's (and Ramla's) occupation on July 11-12, 1948, the Israelis were surprised to find that over 60,000 Palestinian civilians didn't flee their homes. Subsequently, David Ben-Gurion ordered the wholesale expulsion of all civilians (including man women, children, and old people), in the middle of the hot Mediterranean summer. The civilians from Lydda were marched to the Arab front lines at gunpoint, and were not provided with food or water during their three day exodus. This Lydda Death March resulted in a higher death toll than the Deir Yassin massacre. Benny Morris writes that Israeli witnesses agreed that the exodus was an extended episode of suffering for the refugees. He cites a death toll of 335 dead, while Arab Legion commander John Glubb Pasha wrote that "nobody will ever know how many children died." [ cite book
author = Benny Morris
title = The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949
publisher = Cambridge University Press
date = 1989
pages = pg. 204-11
id = ISBN 0-521-33889-1
] [ cite book
author = Sir John Glubb
title = A Soldier with the Arabs
publisher = Hodder and Stoughton, London
date = 1957
pages = page 162
] [ [http://www.ameu.org/summary1.asp?iid=64 AMEU : Summary ] ] [ [http://www.palestineremembered.com/Acre/Famous-Zionist-Quotes/Story739.html Cleansing Lydda & Ramla, Zionist Quotes ] ]

Habash and his family, who survived the expulsion and death march, became refugees, and were not allowed to return to their homes after the fighting stopped in 1949, in violation of international law. Later, Israel passed the Absentee Property Law, which confiscated the homes and property of all Palestinians who were not living in their homes (for any reason) at the end of the war. The treatment of the Palestinian refugees, victims of both ethnic cleansing and the confiscation of their property without compensation, remains one of the most contentious issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In Beirut, Habash met Wadie Haddad. In the 1950s, he joined "Youth of Vengeance," a group calling for violence against Arab government's policies toward expansionism. [http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9038692/George-Habash] After graduating first in his class in 1951, he worked in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, and ran a clinic together with Haddad in Amman. He was a founding member of the Arab Nationalist Movement in 1951, which was inspired by Nasserism and other pan-Arab and Arab Socialist doctrines. He was implicated in the 1957 coup attempt in Jordan, which had originated among Palestinian members of the National Guard. Habash was convicted in absentia, after having gone underground when King Hussein proclaimed martial law and banned all political parties. In 1958 he fled to Syria (then part of the United Arab Republic), but was forced to return to Beirut in 1961 by the tumultuous break-up of the UAR.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

In 1964 he began reorganizing the ANM, regrouping the Palestinian members of the organization into a "regional command." After the Six-Day War in 1967, disillusion with Nasser became widespread. This prompted the foundation, led by Habash, of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) as a front of several Palestinian factions, like the "heroes of return" and "Palestinian Liberation Front", along with the ANM on December 11, when he also became its first Secretary-General. Habash was briefly imprisoned in Syria in 1968, but escaped. In the same year, he also came into conflict with long-time ally Wadie Haddad, but both remained in the PFLP.

At a 1969 congress the PFLP re-designated itself a Marxist-Leninist movement, and has remained a Communist organization ever since. Its pan-Arab leanings have been diminished since the ANM days, but popular support for a united Arab front has remained, especially in regard to Israeli and western political pressures. It holds a firm position regarding Israel, demanding its complete eradication as a racist state through military struggle and promotes a one-state solution (one secular, democratic, non-denominational state).

The 1969 congress also saw an ultra-leftist faction under Nayef Hawatmeh and Yasser Abd Rabbo split off as the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), later to become the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). During Habash's time as Secretary-General, the PFLP became known as one of the most radical and militant Palestinian factions, and gained world notoriety after a string of airplane hijackings and attacks against Israel affiliated companies as well as Israeli ambassadors in Europe mostly planned by Haddad. The PFLP's pioneering of modern international terror operations brought the group, and the Palestinian issue, onto newspaper front pages worldwide, but it also provoked intense criticism from other parts of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Black September

The PFLP ignored tensions with the mainstream leadership of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, and instead focused on bringing about revolutionary change in Jordan. Habash expressed the opinion that what proceeded was not "only military but also psychological warfare" and one had to "hold the Israelis under permanent pressure". ["‘’Aziya i Afrika segodnya’’" -- cited in edition "‘’Välispanoraam 1972’’", Tallinn, 1973, lk 129 ("‘’Foreign Panorama 1972’’")]

In 1970, Habash masterminded the hijackings of four Western airliners over the United States, Europe, the Far East and the Persian Gulf. The aircraft were blown up, after the passengers and crews were forced to disembark. Habash was also behind the hijacking of an Air France airliner to Entebbe, Uganda and an attack on Israel's Lod airport in which 27 people were shot to death. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-01-26-obit-habash_N.htm Palestinian party founder George Habash dies - USATODAY.com ] ] Forty-seven people were killed in the bombing of a Swissair jet in 1970. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7211395.stm BBC NEWS | Middle East | Palestinian radical founder dies ] ]

The Dawson's Field hijackings of 1970 were instrumental in provoking the Black September crackdown, which came close to destroying the PLO. The hijackings led King Hussein of Jordan to carry out a major offensive against the Palestinian militants in his kingdom, killing thousands of them. [ [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/948298.html Tales of Black September - Haaretz - Israel News ] ]

Wadie Haddad was accused of embarrassing the movement, and politically sidelined, but he was later reintegrated. In autumn 1970, Habash visited Beijing.

After Black September, the PLO fedayeen relocated to Lebanon. In 1972, Habash experienced failing health, and gradually began to lose influence within the organization. The Palestinian National Council's (PNC) adoption of a resolution viewed by the PFLP as a two-state solution in 1974, prompted Habash to lead his organization out of active participation in the PLO and to join the Iraqi-backed Rejectionist Front. Only in 1977 would the PFLP opt to rejoin, as the Palestinian factions rallied their forces in opposition to Anwar Sadat's overtures towards Israel, pro-U.S. policies and fragmentation of the Arab world. During the Lebanese Civil War that broke out in 1975, PFLP forces were decimated in battle against Syria and its Phalangist militia and Lebanese government allies who sought to divide Lebanon into an Israeli controlled south and Syrian controlled north for security purposes. Later, the PFLP would draw close to Syria, as Syria's government shifted, but PFLP involvement in the Lebanese war remained strong until the U.S.-negotiated evacuation of PLO units from Beirut in 1982, and continued on a smaller scale after that.

In 1980 Habash suffered a severe stroke and with his consistently poor health younger members of PFLP began up to assume greater responsibilities. During this time Habash lived in Damascus, Syria and the PFLP neared the Syrian Ba'thist regime of Hafez al-Assad, united by the common opposition to Yasser Arafat's increasing concessions including the refusal to tie the PLO position with Syria's claims on the Israeli occupied Golan Heights and the concession of water rights, port access, and recovery of land occupied by Israeli settlers. In 1992 Habash left Damascus to return to Amman.

Oslo agreement

After the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993, Habash and the PFLP again broke completely with Arafat, accusing him of selling out the Palestinian revolution. The group set up an anti-Arafat and anti-Oslo alliance in Damascus, for the first time joined by such non-PLO Islamist groups such as, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which had grown to prominence during the First Intifada. After finding the position sterile, with Palestinian political dynamics playing out on the West Bank and Gaza areas of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), Habash carefully sought to repair ties to Arafat, and gain a hold in post-Oslo politics without compromising PFLP principles. However, there is no indication that he ever accepted the two-state solution. This balancing act could not save the PFLP from being eclipsed by the militant Islamist factions on the one hand, and the resource-rich Fatah with its PNA patronage network on the other. The significance of the PFLP in Palestinian politics has diminished considerably since the mid-90s. The PFLP participated in the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006 as Abu Ali Mustafa won 4.2% of the popular vote.

In the late 1990s, Habash's medical condition worsened, but he still refused to set foot in the Palestinian territories so as not to give the impression of legitimizing the Oslo Accords. In 2000 he resigned from the post as Secretary-General, citing health reasons. He was succeeded as head of the PFLP by Abu Ali Mustafa who was assassinated by Israel during the Second Intifada. Habash went on to set up a PFLP-affiliated research center, but he remained active in the PFLP's internal politics. Until his death he was still popular among many Palestinians, who appreciate his revolutionary ideology, his determination and principles, the rejection of the Oslo Agreements and his intellectual style.

Death

Habash died on January 26, 2008, at the age of 81 of a heart attack in hospital in Amman, Jordan. The President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas called for three days of national mourning. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7211395.stm Palestinian radical founder dies] "BBC News"] Habash was buried in a suburban cemetery of Amman with processions by the Greek Orthodox Church. [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/3E4F1FD5-CB24-407F-AC7C-94C4AF97E293.htm PFLP founder George Habash dies] "Al-Jazeera"]

Abbas said Habash was a "historic leader" and demanded that Palestinian flags were to be flown half-mast. The current PFLP deputy Secretary-General Abdel Raheem Mallouh, called Habash a "distinguished leader... who struggled for more than 60 years without a stop for the rights and the interests of his people". Hamas leader and dismissed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya sent his condolences, saying Habash "spent his life defending Palestine".

References

External links

* [http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0998/9809049.html A Visit With George Habash: Still the Prophet of Arab Nationalism and Armed Struggle Against Israel] , By Grace Halsell, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 1998, pages 49, 136
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7211395.stm BBC Report of Habash Death]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7211505.stm BBC Obituary]
* [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article3260789.ece Obituary in "The Times", January 28, 2008]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,,2248385,00.html Obituary in "The Guardian", January 29, 2008]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/world/middleeast/27habash.html?scp=1&sq=George+Habash&st=nyt NY Times Obituary]
* [http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/3E4F1FD5-CB24-407F-AC7C-94C4AF97E293.htm Al Jazeera Obituary]
* [http://auhrenia.com/2008/01/27/pflp-leader-george-habbash-dead/ "George Habbash - short overview on auhrenia.com"]


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  • George Habash — (arab. جورج حبش Dschurdsch Habasch, französische Schreibweise Georges Habache; * 2. August 1926 in Lydda, Palästina als Sohn griechisch orthodoxer Eltern; † 26. Januar 2008 in Amman, Jordanien) war von 1968 bis 2000 Ge …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • George Habash — George Habash. George Habash (Lod, 2 de agosto de 1926 Amán, 26 de enero de 2008) fue un político palestino, fundador del Frente Popular para la Liberación de Palestina. Fue conocido como El Doctor debido a su profesión de pediatra en un hospital …   Wikipedia Español

  • George Habasch — George Habash (arab. جورج حبش Dschurdsch Habasch, französische Schreibweise Georges Habache; * 2. August 1926 in Lydda, Palästina als Sohn griechisch orthodoxer Eltern; † 26. Januar 2008 in Amman, Jordanien) war von 1968 bis 2000 Generalsekretär… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Habash — is a surname. It may refer to:* George Habash, a Palestinian political leader, ex Secretary General of the PFLP * Sakher Habash, a Palestinian leader of the Fatah movement …   Wikipedia

  • Habash — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: George Habash (1926–2008), palästinensischer Politiker Sakher Habash (1939–2009), palästinensischer Politiker Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichnete …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • George Habache — Georges Habache Georges Habache (جورج حبش), de son nom de guerre Al Hakim الحكيم , né le 2 août 1926 dans la ville de Lydda (actuel Lod en Israël) et, selon toute vraisemblance[1], mort le 26 janvier 2008 à Amman (Jordanie), est un… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Habash — Habash, George …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Habash, George — ▪ 2009       Palestinian militant born 1925/26, Lydda, Palestine [now Lod, Israel] died Jan. 26, 2008, Amman, Jordan was leader (1967–2000) of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Habash fled Palestine in 1948, after Israel… …   Universalium

  • Habash, George — ► (n. 1925) Guerrillero palestino. Creó el Frente de Liberación Popular de Palestina, la más extremista de las organizaciones guerrilleras contra Israel. Anunció su retirada en 2000 …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Militancia Palestina (1951-87) — Este artículo o sección necesita una revisión de ortografía y gramática. Puedes colaborar editándolo (lee aquí sugerencias para mejorar tu ortografía). Cuando se haya corregido, borra este aviso por favor …   Wikipedia Español


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