Leila Khaled Hijacker 0+

Lina Makboul, ŠVE 2005, original version / English subtitles, 58 min

What kind of a person hijacks an airplane? Are today's hijackers different from their predecessors? Fearing for their lives, director Lina Makboul's parents moved to Sweden to escape the strife in Palestine. The family of Leila Khaled, the central figure of this documentary, fled to Lebanon in fear of the armed Jewish group Stern Gang. This paramilitary unit first came to Palestine after WW2 to prepare the territory for those who had survived the Nazi concentration camps. While the persecution of one nation in Europe ended, the oppression of another began in the Middle East. At the age of twenty–four, Leila Khaled joined a commando unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In 1969 she hijacked an airplane full of civilians in Rome, threatening to blow it up. In the end, no one died, but the world press became interested in the Israeli–Palestinian issue, perhaps in part because the terrorist herself caused a sensation – she was a young, beautiful woman. As the now sixty–two year–old Leila sits on the couch in her home in Jordan with the director, she recalls how she did not understand the sense of the questions asked her by European journalists, whose main interest seemed to lie in how many hours she spent in front of the mirror every day. For most Palestinians – at home and in exile – she became an icon, something more permanent than a reflection in the mirror. Her charisma also influenced the director, belonging to a younger generation, who went on a journey to meet her childhood idol at a time when she also began to question her earlier views. The question remains whether Leila's act did not in fact damage, rather than improve, the situation in Palestine.


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