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The highlight so far of Pluto Press’s ‘sympathetic but not sycophantic’ Revolutionary Lives series, Irving chronicles one woman’s role in the Palestinian resistance movement and offers a valuable history lesson for the younger generation. Drawing extensively on recent interviews conducted with Khaled, the book reads like an oral history delicately framed within a political history of the past 65 years.
The book raises an impressively wide range of issues for a small tome, from Khaled’s attitude towards different tactics of resistance to the western media’s obsessive objectification of her. Perhaps the most interesting discussion concerns the debate over whether Khaled’s involvement in what some see as a ‘male mode’ of resistance – armed struggle – signified a limited feminist consciousness. She explicitly prioritises national liberation over social liberation, saying that the first and most direct form of oppression is the Israeli occupation, but does not take women’s rights for granted as an automatic follow-on.
Khaled tells Irving that becoming a mother prompted her and others to push for internal changes within the PFLP, which at the time had lessons to learn about facilitating women’s participation despite being one of the most progressive forces in Palestinian politics. We’re told that despite initial ambivalence to the women’s movement, Khaled learnt much from her involvement in the General Union of Palestinian Women (GUPW). Through attending international conferences as a GUPW representative, for instance, she encountered new and alien concepts – such as anti-Zionist Israelis – that although she was initially hostile to, Khaled came to appreciate.
Humorous anecdotes occur in unlikely places in Khaled’s account of her life. But there are also many tragic moments, particularly early memories of her family fleeing Haifa in the Nakba and, later, the effects her notoriety had on some family members.
Telling Khaled’s story is not simple. Just as her 1973 biography attracted a legal challenge in the US, Irving’s book, due to launch at Blackwell’s bookshop in Manchester, was also targeted by Zionists, forcing a venue change. This is a defiant and determined addition to a very limited literature and helps to demystify and humanise the woman behind the symbol.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns