'Girl terrorist' visits Nelson Mandela Bay

FEBRUARY 9, 2015

Palestinian struggle icon Leila Khaled – once called the "girl terrorist" and "deadly beauty" by the 1970s press, visited the Nelson Mandela Bay on Sunday and called on South Africans to continue to support the anti-Israeli lobby group, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Khaled rose to fame by becoming the first female to hijack a US plane in 1969 as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

She arrived in South Africa on 6 February and is on a speaking tour across the country to raise funds for the lobby group which is campaigning for boycotts of Israeli products by South African companies - particularly Woolworths.

"My message is to support BDS as a tool for people to support others who are living under occupation and oppression. We have been struggling long years ago and still have a long way to reach liberation," she told Algoa FM News.

She also said that "South Africa is totally backing the Palestinian struggle. 

"They know what is apartheid and also those who suffered from apartheid now support those who are still suffering from apartheid as long as Israel is an apartheid state," she added.

Khaled also condemned the Islamic State (ISIS) for pointless massacres and seeking to destroy civilizations.

She compares the killing of a Jordanian pilot by ISIS in 2015 to the burning to death of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists in 2014.

"They are leading the same way the Zionist did in Palestine - killing, burning, cutting necks and massacres. They just want to destroy not the countries and the armies of those countries, but also the civilisation of that country."

Controversial visit

Prior to and on her arrival in South Africa, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) released a statement protesting “the bringing out of terrorist Leila Khaled by BDS”.

“There are a great many credible pro-Palestinian activists who support peaceful co-existence between a future independent Palestinian state and Israel, and who believe that such a solution can only be arrived at through negotiations, not violence.

“BDS-SA could have chosen any one of these to promote itself, thereby demonstrating its professed commitment to peace and a South Africa-style settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, they chose someone whose main claim to fame is to have been involved in major acts of terrorism, and who to this day is an unabashed proponent of violence against Israel,” the SAJBD said.

“This should make clear even those who do not consider themselves supporters of Israel that  BDS-SA is an organisation that has no compunction in spreading ideologies of violence and hatred in our society, even as it hypocritically employs standard human rights-style rhetoric and pieties in order to conceal its true nature.”

Former Minister for Intelligence Services, Ronnie Kasrils, who accompanied Khaled to Port Elizabeth, maintains that supporting the rights of Palestinians for self-determination does not make anyone or government anti-Jewish.

"In resolving that conflict it's not anti-Jewish, it's not anti-semitic.  It's for Palestinian rights and human rights and right to self-determination.  Just as overthrowing apartheid helped liberate white South Africans the same will happen with the Israeli - Palestine issue," Kasrils said.

In defending Khaled’s visit, the BDS, said in a statement that Khaled was no more of a terrorist than Mandela was.

“The Israeli lobby in South Africa, including the SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), have - not unexpectedly - been trying to discredit Leila Khaled's forthcoming tour. We do not expect pro-Israeli supporters to understand the reason for hosting someone like Nelson Mandela, the South African struggle icon and former Commander in Chief of the MK, or Leila Khaled, the Palestinian struggle icon,” the organisation’s Kwara Kekana said.

“Back in the 1980s the SAJBD and Israel were proud supporters of the Apartheid regime that killed our people and today they are proud supporters of the Israeli regime that is killing innocent Palestinians (of which the most recent example was the Israeli killing of over 500 children in Gaza between July and August 2014).

“We remind them that Nelson Mandela and South Africa's ruling party, the ANC, both remained on the USA terrorism watch list until as recently as 2008. While the South African Jewish community produced many distinguished anti-apartheid struggle heroes such as Cde. Joe Slovo, they were disowned by the leadership of that community, including the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, which preferred to be in bed with the Apartheid regime.”

Photo caption: Leila Khaled arriving in South Africa. Image: BDS via Facebook.