George Habash : a new look at his origins and politics
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This paper argues that George Habash, founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), embodied and expressed a distinctly new style of politics with the Palestinian context. I argue that Habash, unlike both his political antecedents during Mandate Palestine and his contemporaries in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) practiced a style of politics that was distinctly uncompromising towards ideological opponents, hostile to traditional structures of patrician leadership in Palestine, and aggressively confrontational in most situations. The time-span of this analysis begins in Chapter One in late Ottoman Palestine, where I appropriate and modify Albert Hourani’s thesis of the “politics of the notables” as a way of framing the relationships between different hierarchically segmented actors in Palestinian society from the Ottoman era up until the end of the British Mandate and the formation of Israel in 1948. Chapter 2 analyzes Habash’s entrance into the broader Arab political arena after the Palestinian exile, focusing on his involvement in and leadership of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) and his patronage relationship with Gamal Abdel Nasir. Chapter Three transitions into the post-1967 war era, where I argue that Habash’s political philosophy, influence and confrontational praxis reached its zenith with the formation of the PFLP. The Conclusion briefly addresses his posthumous influence in contemporary Palestinian politics and the ways that different observers eulogize or criticize his legacy.