Palestine solidarity activists plan to protest outside the Johannesburg City Council on Friday to call for the renaming of Sandton Drive after Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled. In 2018 the Johannesburg City Council adopted a motion to rename Sandton Drive after Khaled, dubbed “the poster girl of the Palestinian struggle”.
The motion was brought to council by the ANC, Al-Jamaah and EFF and was passed with an easy majority.
“To date, however, the DA-led executive, and in particular, Mayor Herman Mashaba, is preventing the implementation of this street name change. To coincide with Al-Quds Day, we are going to demand the immediate implementation of this motion,” said BDS South Africa.
International Al-Quds Day takes place in over 100 cities worldwide including in London, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and several other South African cities and towns.
Leila Khaled is a prominent member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – classed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US – and a member of the Palestinian National Council.
In 1969, Khaled hijacked her first plane – the TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Tel Aviv. One year later she attempted to do the same on El Al Flight 219 from Amsterdam to New York. The attempt was foiled, and she was arrested as the plane landed in Britain but later freed in exchange for the release of hostages.
Khaled’s image flashed across the world in 1969. The picture of a young, determined-looking woman with a checkered kuffiyah scarf was as era-defining as that of Che Guevara, Ruth First and other political figures.
Leila Khaled and Nelson Mandela were both were dubbed “terrorists” by the USA. In fact, Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s then liberation movement and now governing party, the ANC, remained on the USA terrorism watch list for over a decade after the end of Apartheid. Mandela himself was only removed from the US State Security terrorist watch list in 2008 – after he had visited the country as President of our country.
Many Palestinians – including Leila Khaled are today considered terrorists by the same people who once did so with the ANC, the PAC, Nelson Mandela, Ronnie Kasrils, Dennis Goldberg and other liberation struggle heroes.
Khaled has visited South Africa several times, with her most recent being in 2014 where she was a guest of Parliament and also shared platforms across the country with various Government Ministers, Premiers and Mayors as well as South African stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada.