Leila Khaled: The “Supreme Objective” in Palestine Is Equality, “Peace and Harmony”

In her autobiography, My People Shall Live: The Autobiography of a Revolutionary, Leila Khaled, the renowned Palestinian revolutionary and freedom fighter, explained that “the supreme objective of the Palestinian liberation movement” is quite simply equality, “peace and harmony,” for all people in Palestine—both Arabs and Jews.

In chapter eight, “The Fascist Tide and the Arab Revolution,” in the concluding part three of her book, she writes:

The supreme objective of the Palestinian liberation movement is the total liberation of Palestine, the dismantlement of the Zionist state apparatus, and the construction of a socialist society in which both Arabs and Jews can live in peace and harmony.

It goes without saying that this claim directly contradicts the lies and myths spread by Zionists, who preposterously claim that the Palestinian resistance wants to “kill all Jews.” The Palestinian resistance does seek to dismantle “the Zionist state apparatus,” as Khaled writes, but this is fundamentally different from “killing all Jews.” The Palestinian resistance does not want to “destroy” Israel, as Zionists histrionically allege, intentionally distorting Palestinians’ rhetoric; rather, the resistance seeks to dismantle the system of ethnoreligious supremacy that grants Jewish citizens rights not granted to other citizens, that relegates Palestinians and those of other racial and ethnic backgrounds to second-class citizen status.

Zionism is an inherently racist ideology; it always has been, from its very origins, and it always will be. Theodor Herzl, the “Father” of Zionism, explicitly spoke of “the idea of Zionism, which is a colonial idea,” calling it “something colonial.” Herzl tried to appeal to British colonialists—including genocidal colonialist and mining magnate Cecil Rhodes—for support.

Ohio State University Presidents’ Club Professor of Law John B. Quigley documents the colonialist origins of Zionism in his 2005 book The Case for Palestine: An International Law Perspective. Quigley cites the correspondence between Herzl and Rhodes, noting how explicitly the Father of Zionism referred to his hyper-nationalist ideology as a form of a colonialism.

zionism is colonialism

Zionism is definitionally a form of racism as it says that the state of Israel must grant preferential treatment to the Jewish population—necessarily discriminating against non-Jews. This de facto and de jure segregation inevitably results in the creation of an apartheid state, a society in which citizens of a particular ethnoreligious group live under a different set of rules than do everyone else. It is for this reason that, in 1975, with the ratification of General Assembly resolution 3379, the United Nations “Determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

The Palestinian resistance—particularly the secular, leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), of which Khaled is a long-time leader—is disgusted with this system of apartheid, with what Israeli scholar Oren Yiftachel refers to as ethnocracy, not just because it is at the receiving end of it, but because the liberation movement is morally fundamentally opposed to racism and settler colonialism, in any and all of its forms.

The Islamist resistance, led by Hamas—the form of resistance most egregiously slandered by the Islamophobic and Orientalist West—also seeks the “peace and harmony” of which Khaled speaks. In a July 2014 interview with CBS, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal explicitly said “We ask for tolerance, for co-existence, with Buddhists, the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims, as you know, God created us.” What he said the resistance is not willing to coexist with is “occupation. I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, and with the Arabs and non-Arabs, and with those who agree with my ideas and also disagree with them. However, I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers, and those who put siege on us.”

Liberation will be achieved, as Khaled so eloquently articulates it, not through two “independent” states. International law scholar Noura Erakat, among so many others, has noted that the two-state solution is no longer even a viable political possibility. UN studies show that Gaza will not be livable by 2020. Turning Gaza and the West Bank into an “independent” Palestinian “state” (“Bantustan” is much more accurate than “state”) is simply a preservation and prolongation of the settler colonialist status quo—one that, like that of the US, pretends to care about the indigenous population by allowing it to live “independently” on the worst, least arable, most polluted land.

The solution to what is euphemistically referred to as the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict”—but should actually more accurately be referred to as “the settler colonialist Zionist project of ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and occupation of Palestine and the Palestinian people”—as Khaled writes, is not a bourgeois, liberal Zionist two-state “solution” (which, as human rights and civil rights lawyer Stanley Cohen insists, neither guarantees two “states” nor is a solution) but rather “the total liberation of Palestine, the dismantlement of the Zionist state apparatus, and the construction of a socialist society in which both Arabs and Jews can live in peace and harmony.”

Those who truly seek peace, liberation, and justice should advocate and accept nothing less.

leila khaled on socialism