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The Center for Arab Unity Studies held a seminar on the publication “Pages of my struggle: Memoirs of George Habash”, in Beirut on Sunday afternoon, July 7, 2019. The objective of the symposium is to shed light on the trajectories of the Palestinian revolution in order to fortify it against a culture of defeat, subordination and normalization which currently dominates the Arab political landscape, and to likewise confront the current challenges and risks surrounding the Palestinian cause.

Dr. Saif Da’na, former Minister Bishara Merhej and Maher Al-Taher, head of the Political Relations Department of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), took part in the symposium in the presence of a group of Palestinian academics, politicians, journalists and young activists from the diasporic camps. The symposium, which lasted more than two hours, was moderated by communication professor Nafed Abu Hasna who expressed the view that Al Hakim was endowed with values of solidity and sincerity, qualities that are mostly sought in the persona of leaders. Dr. Nafed likewise expressed the pressing need for proper leadership in times of hardship as in the case of the present challenges and turmoil the Arab world is currently subjected to, Abu Hasna emphasized “How dearly this man’s presence is needed”.

The book’s editor, Dr. Saif Dana, spoke of the book itself and its author in a speech that captivated the core of the audience. In his view, among the main reasons for the success of the book was the people’s desire for a leader that is capable of dealing with difficulties in the likes of those the Arab world is currently facing! Dana also claimed that the text was in itself an act of resistance and George Habash’s last form of political engagement, considering his works contributed to the shaping of a forward-looking perspective for the future. Throughout the narrative of history, he opened the horizons for imagining how life would be after the liberation of Palestine, which made the issue of liberation far easier for us. He concludes by stressing that our need for such leader has increased!

Minister Bishara Merhej further elaborated on the life of the leader, the revolutionary and the humane character of George Habash, shedding light on many facets of his journey’s struggles. Merhej spoke about the crucial role played by George Habash’s wife, Mrs. Hilda Habash, in collecting and assembling his memoires. By the end of his speech, he spoke of Habash’s political tendencies towards the adoption of democracy. Mherhej concludes his discussion of the book with a brief description of commander Habash; he described him as “a man of the resistance, with great intellect, and of highest concern in Palestine for other nations, who identified with his people till the very end and held on to his cause until his very last breath, devoting his entire life to the struggle and the act of giving.”

Following these remarks, Dr. Maher Al-Taher delivered a speech on the Hakim’s ideology and his relations with Arab presidents, including several life-changing experiences that crystallized in his mind a set of constants reflected in his memoirs, most notably his emphasis on the racism of the Zionist settlement entity, his adherence to the Palestinian unity and the choice of democratic dialogue, and the interdependence of the Palestinian struggle with the struggle of Arab nations, including his personal views on various aspects of the struggle, which are no less important than the armed struggle.

The seminar was concluded with remarks from Director General of the Center for Arab Unity Studies, Luna Abuswaireh, who extended her thanks to the family of George Habash for the confidence given to the Center on the publication of his memoirs. She also thanked Dr. Dana who initiated contact with the Center in the summer of 2018 to provide contact details for Ms. Hilda Habash to agree with her on the publication of the book on the eleventh anniversary of the passing of al-Hakim. Ms. Abu Swaireh added that the book stands “before the coming Palestinian generations”, expressing confidence in the idea that “the Palestinian revolution is constantly at birth”, as she puts it.

Al-Hakim’s memoirs were published in late January by the Center for Arab Unity Studies on the 11th anniversary of the passing of the Palestinian Arab fighter and leader, one of the founders of the Arab Nationalist Movement and the founding secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Dr. George Habash.