Ghassan Kanafani

Ghassan Kanafani was a refugee, a journalist, an editor and a political activist. He was murdered in Beirut by a bomb planted in his car by Israel’s Mossad spy agency on 8 July 1972.  He was 36 years old.

At the time, he was the official spokesperson of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). And yet, first and foremost, he was a writer.

In this regard, his obituary in Lebanon’s Daily Star stated that he was “a commando who never fired a gun, whose weapon was a ball-point pen, and his arena the newspaper pages.” 

Ghassan was very clear on his life’s purpose. And the following quote is an example to all of us who wish to combine our moral, artistic and political objectives.

 “I write well because I believe in a cause, in principles. The day I leave these principles, my stories will become empty; and the defence of principles is what finally leads to success in everything. The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary… as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”


(For Ghassan Kanafani)

+++++Trucks are loaded+++ donkeys loaded
+ but not with beds linen pots or kettles
+++++loaded++ with panic with defeat ++ with betrayal
++++++Who owns the past?++ who will own the future?

+trucks are loaded +++ donkeys loaded
+ loaded at speed +++ loaded at gunpoint
+++but not with + children+ dogs + birds + and rabbits
+++++ loaded with threats + bluster + murder+ and blackmail
Who owns the past? ++++++++ who will own the future?
+++ loaded by the innocent+ loaded by the weak
at speed at gunpoint

+++++trucks are loaded+++ donkeys loaded
+ but not with paintings+ silverware+ books+ and+ prayer beads
+++++++ loaded with lackeys+ absent effendi + colonizers + lying imperialists
+++++++++++ long live the past and the future!

and so++ convoys of stalled generations ++ tripping in minefields
+++++++++++hanging on barbed wire
++++++ hanging on the past and the future
+++++++++++carrying photographs diaries and wills
++++++++++++++ carrying keys boxes of memory

+then ++ borders evaded++ borders crossed
++++++borders spat and trampled on
+++ then++ ++ camps ++ cast out in camps
++ cramped in camps++ camp cities alongside cities

+++++++++++++camps to take the place of
+++++++++++ places of work++ of worship
++++++ ++++of study ++ places of healing
++++++++++++ camps to hold people in check
++++++++++++++ in reserve ++ in suspension

++but then +++++ in the camps trucks load defiance and bomb belts
++++++++++++++++ trucks load young militants
+++++++++++++long live the past and the future!++ long live the present!
++++++++++++++++++and ++ heavy with hunger
+++++++++++++++++++ with stench and with sacrifice
++++++++++++++++++++++ with lineage and longing
++++++++++++++++++ with resolutions and rights

+++++loaded with anguish++ trucks start their engines
++++++++++++++ race back to the borders
+++++++++++trucks cross over++ and++ explode!

++++++++long live the past and the future!

++++++++++++free at last in the present