A forgotten interview with Palestinian revolutionary Ghassan Kanafani has been released online, giving a rare insight into the late leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
The short clip was recorded in 1970 by Australian journalist Richard Carleton and features Kanafani discussing his view of history – which he describes as “weak people fighting strong people” – and the justice of the Palestinian struggle.
More than 60,000 people had watched the clip at the time of writing, and thousands had shared it.
James Carleton, Richard Carleton’s son, told Al Bawaba he was surprised by the popularity of the film. “We knew he was revered and missed, especially compared to the leadership of today. Politics was so different then,” he said. “But we didn’t think it would be quite like this.”
The younger Carleton discovered the film in an archive that had been “gathering dust” in his home and an Australian university department. He found the footage and showed it to his friend, Khaldoun Hajjaj, who noted the interview’s significance and shared it. Video footage of Kanafani is extremely rare.
Kanafani was a writer and the leader of the PFLP, a leftist organisation fighting for Palestinian nationalist aspirations. Carleton believes the interview took place during the time of Black September, when Palestinians and Jordanian forces were fighting and the Dawson’s Field Hijackings targeted US passenger planes. Kanafani was assassinated by the Mossad in 1972.
In the interview, Kanafani disputes the elder Carleton’s description of the Palestinian case as a “conflict”, defining it as the struggle of a people fighting for its rights, and tells him that the PFLP’s September operations were “correct”.
During the interview, a plaque stolen from an US Embassy can be see displayed on his office wall – stolen, according to James Carleton and Khaldoun, from Amman during a riot.
Richard Carleton was a lifelong foreign correspondent who worked all over the Middle East, and James said he had many more tapes of his father’s work – albeit in now-defunct and difficult to access formats. “He may have mentioned that interview, but it wouldn’t have occurred to me at the time,” he said. “He’d drop names hourly of the people he’d spoken with.”
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