July 8, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani. On July 8, 1972, at the age of 36, Kanafani – the illustrious Palestinian novelist, writer and political leader – was assassinated by a car bomb planted outside his home in Beirut by the Zionist secret service, the Mossad. His niece, Lamis, was killed alongside him. On this anniversary, Al-Awda NY remembers Ghassan Kanafani, the writer whose pen evoked the dreams, hopes, resilience and resistance of Palestine, and whose work always held the refugees’ voice and struggle for return as central to the cause of liberation.
Kanafani, born in 1936 was himself a Palestinian refugee, displaced from Akka to Lebanon and then Damascus, Syria in the Nakba. His literary work – including Men in the Sun, Return to Haifa, All that Is Left To You, Umm Saad and countless short stories – has come to exemplify the Palestinian novel, while his scholarly and analytical work, including surveys of Palestinian literature of resistance, Zionist literature, and Palestinian political economic history, remains sharply relevant and incisive. Kanafani’s literary work, however, as he always strongly emphasized, was part and parcel of his political work – Kanafani was an early member of the Arab Nationalist Movement, a spokesperson for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and deeply involved in the Palestinian national movement as well as the leading voice of Palestinian cultural resistance of his era.
Kanafani’s work always emphasized the centrality of refugees – and the dream, desire, struggle and reality of return as the core of the liberation project in Palestine. He exemplified the synthesis of political and cultural resistance and the numerous organizations that bear his name or his photo around the world, from occupied Palestine, to the Arab world, to Palestinian refugee camps, to Palestinian communities everywhere, speak to his ongoing relevance and the resonance of his writing and struggle.
A number of Kanafani’s works are available in translation. Several links, below, highlight examples of his work available online: