‘World better without APEC, Israeli occupation’ – Leila Khaled, Palestinian freedom fighter

“My call to the peoples of the world is to organize resistance in their respective countries to the regional level.”


MANILA — Leila Khaled, iconic fighter for Palestinian freedom and current member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), laughs off a joke that her being in Manila for anti-APEC meetings may have been one of the reasons why all flights in Manila are canceled during the APEC Summit.

Khaled is the first female hijacker in history. After she hijacked her first plane in 1969, her lovely face became the international pinup of armed struggle. Since then a lot of things have changed, and PFLP had reportedly explicitly excluded hijacking from the list of its actions for Palestinian liberation. Khaled had also clarified her hijacking incident never hurt nor killed anyone. She had done that to bring to light the forcible occupation of Palestine lands by the Israeli.

Leila Khaled picture
Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled: People under occupation have the right to resist by all means. Including through armed struggle. (Photo by Raymund Villanueva / Bulatlat.com)

This Friday in Quezon City, she spoke at the press conference led by the ILPS (International League of Peoples’ Struggle). Amid a high level police and military preparation by the Aquino government to secure the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, and despite the veiled threats against protest actions of global and local activists including Khaled in Manila, she expressed strong assertions for the peoples’ right to resist.

“People have the right to resist, it’s their duty, it’s not a grant to them,” Khaled said.

She added that whatever or however the media portrays this, some of the media being “controlled by imperialist,” peoples under occupation and repression are humiliated.

“I’m here to say that it is our role to resist occupation in our homeland, that we have the right to resist.”

She said this right is guaranteed by the United Nations and the international community, “as it should be,” although unfortunately, she thinks the UN is now controlled also by imperialists.

Resistance a people’s duty, not a grant

With the 350 plus delegates of global activists from nearly 40 organizations operating in 91 countries, Khaled is set to join protest actions to counter the lies that, they said, are being peddled by trade and political formations such as APEC. She delivered a speech at the conference of International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) happening today till November 16.

In this conference, they are discussing liberation struggles, human rights, trade unions, children, science and technology and environment, migrants, among others. They tackle also socio-economic issues and how it impact on peasants, women, youth, indigenous peoples, teachers, health, media and the arts.

“After this, we’ll go to our countries to explain the danger of formations like APEC,” Khaled said.

The global activists see the need for governments and policies to change, for the 99% of the population who actually produce the wealth of the world to benefit from it, and not the 1% or the rich. They said formations like APEC only represent and work for that 1%.

Khaled said conferences like what they are set to do in ILPS, their resolve and continuing “dialogue with our people,” is the real democratic way.

To face down the threats hurled their way by APEC, she said “We have to raise our voices.”

She is questioning why there are American bases all over the world. “To protect the world?” She believes not.

“US has enough space in their country to put their military there.” She said it should do that and not spread its military to control the world.

She links the spread of American military power to the forcible Palestine occupation by the Israeli.

She also said the police are not being told to protect the people, but the interest of the 1%. “People have to bear with police violence, with every improvement in technology used by the police, because the government tells the police not to protect the people.”

‘Israel established by massacring Palestinians’

“In 1948, before Israel established their country on our land, they fought our people through massacres. The most widely known massacre happened in 1948,” Khaled recalled.

“They said all Palestinians are to be massacred, or they should just leave,” she added.

“After Israel established their state in our homeland, at our expense, they made more massacres. That’s their ideology. Make more massacres so they’ll win. That’s how they replace the people in our homeland,” Khaled explained.

Leila Khaled Palestinian freedom fighter
One of Leila Khaled’s most copied pinup for armed struggle

Since then, her people, the Palestinians, face all the atrocities of this occupation. And it is ongoing. “Every time, the Israeli government creates all means to perpetrate atrocities on our people. Men, women, even children, if they pass by they’re killed. If they don’t die, they’re interrogated.”

She warned against the use of religion in making this happen.

It has been a trend, she noted, that whenever anyone criticizes Israel, it is construed or presented like it means they’re criticizing the Jews.

Khaled calls it “a political movement using religion, but they’re not really protecting religion.”

Instead, she said, they are creating anarchists, extremists – and now they’re expanding.

She said Isis is an imperialist creation, and creating something like this has been seen in American occupation of Iraq and other countries.

“US always finds tools, in Iraq, and those countries,” Khaled said. These, like Isis (Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines) are tools to direct public anger to, and for the US and allied local militaries to cite as justification for war.

Khaled draws parallels between APEC, an economic trade bloc and also a political regional formation under US, and Zionism.

Zionism, for her, is a political movement seeking control of the world, through the economy, military and use of religion.

Khaled is appealing to the public to prompt their mind to think beyond what the imperialist-controlled media and the politicians are dishing out for example with regard to “religious war,” and “war on terrorism.”

“The world would be a better world without APEC, without occupation,” she said.

Asked what specifics they can do to bring about change, Khaled says ”We have to first liberate our land.”

She talks about the rights of Palestinian refugees, estimated to be 6 million to 9 million, to return to their homeland.

“We have this right, we have to fight for it,” Khaled said.

Others living under occupation, estimated to be 3 million to 4.5 million, also have more reasons to mobilize, she said. As Israel occupies their lands, building walls on Palestinian lands, also taking away resources including water, Khaled said these resources should benefit the people, and it is not for the government of the few to decide on.

In the ILPS conference, she said, they will further share ideas. “My call to the peoples of the world is to organize resistance in their respective countries to the regional level. ILPS will do these, strengthen solidarity and action, broaden organizations, advance the anti-imperialist struggle all over the world.” (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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