Observer contributor fails to mention terrorist career of Palestinian ‘novelist’ Ghassan Kanafani

A report in the culture section of The Observer (sister publication of the Guardian) by Omar al-Qattan, a Palestinian-British film-maker (‘The best 10 Arab films‘, July 7) included a brief synopsis of a 1973 feature film by Tewfik Saleh titled ‘The Dupes.”

Al-Qattan writes, thusly:

Set in Iraq, shot in Syria, based on a famous Palestinian novel by Ghassan Kanafani (assassinated by the Israelis in 1972) and directed by an Egyptian, this harrowing film is about a group of Palestinian workmen in the early 50s trying to cross the border illegally from Iraq into Kuwait, to join the oil boom. They get a lift inside a water tank and are stuck there when the driver is held up by customs officials. The action takes place inside the tank in the searing desert heat as the men dream of the homes and loved ones they left behind. A classic of the Palestinian experience.

Of course, the Observer contributor failed to inform readers that Ghassan Kanafani wasn’t a mere novelist, but also a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian terror group responsible for a number of hijackings and deadly terror attacks, including the murder of Israel’s tourism minister in 2001.  

Here’s a photo of a PFLP march, at the Dheishe “refugee camp(a Palestinian city near Bethlehem)with a banner of Kanafani, which took place on July 8, 2012, the 40th anniversary of his death.


In addition to editing the magazine of the PFLP, Kanafani was a member of the group’s Political Bureau and played a key role in developing and shaping its political positions.  Additionally, as CAMERA noted, Kanafani was reportedly the right hand man to PFLP’s leader George Habash, and even helped plan – along with members of the Japanese Red Army – the Lod Airport Massacre in May 1972 in which 26 people were killed.

We can likely assume that if the Observer culture contributor knew that the Mossad allegedly assassinated Kanafani, he also was at least minimally aware of his terror affiliations.

In a manner similar to Harriet Sherwood’s characterizations of Islamic Jihad terrorists Khader Adnan and Mahmoud Sarsak respectively as a “baker” and “football player”, Al-Qattan’s focus on Kanafani’s literary prowess serves to evoke sympathy for the man – a Palestinian who, during his life, demonstrated a clear disregard for the humanity of Israelis.

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