I’m working on a project right now that doesn’t have any answers. So I’m in the midst of reading books and watching documentaries that similarly tackle biographies of complicated people whose actions cannot be easily explained.
I just watched a fascinating documentary that in many ways parallels the quest I’m on. The 2005 film by Lina Makboul is titled Leila Khaled: Hijacker. It recaps Khaled’s infamous career as the first female plane hijacker in 1969 as she was fighting for Palestinian independence.
* Khaled is defined as both terrorist and freedom fighter, depending upon whom you ask.
* As a teen of Palestinian descent growing up in Sweden, Makboul initially idolized Khaled, but as she grew older, she saw the situation as more complicated.
* Does history ever change? Here were people trying to complete coordinated air attacks in 1970, a frightening foreshadowing to 30 years later. It reminds me of a book I read last year, The Skies Belong To Us—a great account of the heyday of skyjackings in the late 1960s/early 1970s (but what was different back then is that terrorists didn’t use the planes as missiles to kill thousands).
* For some reason, I was intrigued by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an undergrad, and the history of that region became my de facto focus area as a history major. As I watched Makboul’s documentary, I was reminded of why I became so interested in the conflict. Humans are at the core of that conflict, and the conflict has influenced the course of action of so many lives.
Do you remember Khaled’s actions? How do you feel about unanswerable questions? Do you like reading stories in which there are no right or wrong answers? Stories in which mysteries remain?