Leila Khaled came to town and darn well near tore the place down. On Saturday 22nd July she packed out the JISS centre in Mayfair, Johannesburg, and had there been Kalashnikovs on the way out, we all would have gladly taken up arms and followed her to the ends of the earth.
‘The pope prays for peace in the Middle East,’ she said acerbically, ‘but it is not enough. We must fight.’
After receiving a rousing welcome, the likes of which I have never seen before, Khaled launched into a brutally succinct account of the horror of the Nakhba, condensing over forty years of brutal Zionist occupation into a searing personal account of the trials and tribulations of her family.
She’d phoned her brother that morning, she told us. He was a doctor in Tyre city, and as she spoke to him from Johannesburg, she could hear the bombs falling in the background. He was refusing to budge.
All we could do was impotently observe a moments silence for the victims of Israeli aggression. In the background, the Lebanese singer, Fairouz sang plaintively about her beloved Beirut, after it was destroyed by the same Zionist Nazis in 1982.
‘Peace to Beirut with all my heart, and kisses to the sea and the clouds…’