Birthday: August 2, 1926
Nationality: Israeli, Jordanian
Died At Age: 81
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Dr. George Habash
Born Country: Israel
Born in: Lod
Famous as: Founder of The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
political ideology: Political party - Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (1967–2008), Arab Nationalist Movement (1951–1967)
Died on: January 26, 2008
place of death: Amman
Founder/Co-Founder: Arab Nationalist Movement, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
education: American University of Beirut
Who was George Habash?
George Habash, also known as al-Hakim, was the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He also served as the Secretary-General for the Palestine Front for many years, until he resigned due to illness. A Marxist, a Christian and a Palestinian, he is primarily noted for his involvement in Palestinian political causes, including his leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Upon Habash’s death, he was eulogized by various statesmen and politicians, including the current Palestinian Prime Minister, who said that Habash had “spent his life defending Palestine.” In his obituary in ‘The Guardian’, Habash is cited as widely being known as ‘the conscience of the Palestine revolution’. On the other hand, the American periodical ‘Time Magazine’ has referred to Habash as ‘Terrorism’s Christian Godfather.’ The period of Habash’s political involvement meant that he was at the forefront of various turbulent passages in Palestinian history, including the Six-Day War and Black September. Although Habash is primarily known for his political ideals and involvement in recent Palestinian history, his studies actually included medical science, not political science. He graduated from medical school, ranking at the very top of his class
Childhood & Early Life
George Habash was born on 2 August 1926, in Lydda, a city in the British Mandate of Palestine that later became part of Tel Aviv.
Habash was raised by an Eastern Orthodox Palestinian family of grain merchants. During childhood, he sang in the church choir in Lydda.
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Upon completing his studies, Habash enrolled as a medical student at the American University of Beirut and pursued medicine. At this point of time he had no interest in politics.
In 1948, the capture of Lydda by the Israeli Defence Force resulted in Habash’s family being exiled from their home—a seminal event in the development of Habash’s political thought.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Habash attended lectures by Constanin Zureiq —a prominent Syrian Arab intellectual —whose opinions helped shape Habash’s political stance.
In 1951, after graduating from medical school and topping in his class, he started a clinic with Wadie Haddad—a Palestinian leader—in Amman. He also worked in refugee camps in Jordan.
In 1951, Habash established the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) to forward the belief that the Israeli state should be opposed, including by violent means.
In 1957, he was found partially responsible for the coup attempt that took place in Jordan and he was convicted in absentia.
In 1958, he fled to Syria, which was then part of the United Arab Republic. But, he remained there for only three years because the breakup of United Arab Republic in 1961, forced him to return to Beirut.
In 1964, Habash was central to the reorganization efforts for the Arab Nationalist Movement, in which the Palestinian members were grouped into various units of regional authority.
In 1967, following the Six-Day War, Gamal Abdel Nasser lost popularity and the fractious repercussions prompted Habash to establish the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). On 11 December 1967, he became the Secretary-General of the PFLP.
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In 1969, under his leadership, the PFLP designated itself as Marxist-Leninist in its political leanings.
In 1970, he was evicted from Jordan, given his involvement with the Popular Front during the Black September clashes.
In 1970, Habash was involved in the orchestration of four hijackings of airliners over the United States, Europe, the Far East and Persian Gulf states, in which aircraft were destroyed after crew and passengers were disembarked.
In 1974, he formed a Rejectionist Front to oppose the two-state solution that the Palestinian National Council had proposed.
In 1993, Habash and the PFLP distanced themselves from Arafat’s policies and aligned themselves with anti-Arafat parties based in Damascus.
In the latter half of the 1990s, as Habash’s health began to deteriorate, he gradually withdrew from political life, a shift that included his resignation from his post as Secretary-General.
Following his withdrawal from public political life, he founded a research center that was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He was the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The front’s main aim was complete eradication of Israel as a racist state through military struggle.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1961, Habash married Hilda, with whom he had two daughters: Mesa and Lama. Mesa is a doctor, while Lama is an engineer.
He died of a heart attack, on 26 January 2008, at the age of 81.
The President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, announced three days of public mourning to mark Habash’s death.
The PFLP deputy Secretary-General, Abdel Raheem Mallouh, called Habash an ‘historic leader’ and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh described him as having ‘spent his life defending Palestine’.
When Habash fled to Syria, he was convicted of a coup attempt and was sentenced to a 33-year prison sentence