Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel Castro Hailed as True Friend of Palestine
Fidel Castro with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1974. | Photo: AFP

Published 27 November 2016

Palestinian flags were flown at half-mast in honor of the Cuban revolutionary leader Sunday.
Across the Palestinian resistance spectrum, the late Cuban leader and revolutionary Fidel Castro left a mark on the development of the struggle against decades of Israeli colonialism and occupation and so several Palestinian groups took the time to express their gratitude for Cuban solidarity throughout the years.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist-Leninist Palestinian group, was among the first organizations to issue a statement mourning the death of Fidel and highlighting his constant support of “the oppressed peoples of the world in their confrontation with imperialism, Zionism, racism and capitalism.”

Under the leadership of Fidel, “Cuba stood with the Palestinian people and their liberation movement in all facets of international struggle, building a revolutionary alliance for collective movement against imperialism, colonialism and its particular manifestation in Palestine, Zionism,” the statement posted on the PFLP website Saturday said.

“Zionism has been a key weapon of racist oppression, a fact recognized by Fidel Castro and the Cuban people and state.”

The other socialist Palestinian group, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, expressed its own sadness at the death of the Cuban revolutionary.

"The departure of the comrade, the leader, the friend, the great revolutionary, the patriot, and the nationalist Fidel Castro is a great loss for all revolutionaries and nationalist forces around the world," the group’s Secretary General Nayif Hawatmeh said according to the Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

Diplomatic ties between Cuba and Palestine began in the same year that Fidel became prime minister in 1959 following the Cuban Revolution when Raul Castro and Che Guevara visited the Gaza Strip.

Fidel invited late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to Cuba eight times, where the Cuban leader "always welcomed (Arafat) like he was a head of state," Palestinian officials told Al-Jazeera.

Fidel broke diplomatic relations with Israel in 1973 and has repeatedly called Zionism a form of fascism and racial discrimination. In 2014 he said that Israel was committing a “Palestinian Holocaust” in his reaction to the brutal Israeli 50-day war on occupied Gaza that year.

In a letter to Cuban President Raul Castro Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed Fidel as a man who spent “his life sternly defending his country’s and people’s causes in addition to just and righteous causes around the world.”

Abbas ordered Palestinian flags to be set at half-staff Sunday, according to Wafa, the Palestinian state news agency.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which Fidel was the first to recognize and grant full diplomatic status to in 1964 after it was founded, issued a statement highlighting his unwavering support for Palestine.

Also, an unnamed leader in the Palestinian resistance group Hamas told the Jerusalem Post that Fidel was “a brother in the resistance and stood in the face of colonialists, similar to Nelson Mandela.”

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