If I must die

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze–
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself–
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love.
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale.

Refaat Alareer (2011)

Image from https://thisisgaza.files.wordpress.com

Yesterday Refaat Alareer (@itranslate123), an eminent Palestinian poet, academic and activist, aged 44, was killed along with several other members of his family by a targeted Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza.

According to Al Jazeera [1],

Ahmed Bedier, from the NGO United Voices for America, said that Alareer’s regular interviews on television stations and radio shows, where he described what was happening in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to Western audiences, was the main reason that “[the Israeli army] wanted to silence him”.

Dr Alareer was a mentor for many young Palestinian authors writing in English. He was a co-founder of the organisation We are not numbers, which provides workshops for young writers in Gaza. He was well-known at home and internationally, through his publications, collaborations and a book tour of the United States in 2014. [3]

Alareer is not the only eminent Palestinian academic to be targeted in the Israeli response to the 7th October Hamas attacks. On 2nd December the prominent Palestinian physicist Sufyan Tayeh was killed by an Israeli air strike on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp. Tayeh’s murder has been condemned by some academic authorities in Spain. See for example the declaration of the University of Granada.

The number of casualties rises day after day. It is estimated [2] that over 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, mostly civilians, were killed in the 7th October attacks and over 17,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed so far in the ensuing hostilities, including many journalists, health workers and international aid workers.

On a personal note, my father was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. A generation later, I am a member of the German Jewish diaspora. I identify with the words of a friend: “Todos los extranjeros que en el mundo han sido”. I choose to stand with the oppressed, the refugees, the outcasts, the poor, the infirm, the migrants, the homeless. I condemn the ongoing attacks on civilians in the Israel-Hamas conflict and call for an immediate permanent ceasefire leading to negotiations for a just settlement that brings peace to all.

  1. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/8/palestinian-people-mourn-the-death-of-refaat-alareer
  2. Various sources collected in Wikipedia.
  3. In the 2014 Gaza War Israel killed Alareer’s brother Hamada, his wife Nusayba’s grandfather, her brother, her sister and her sister’s three children. (Reported by Alareer in an article of 2021 in The New York Times [archived copy]).
Richard Samson
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About Richard Samson

I’m a teacher living in Osona, Spain. I'm into tennis, dogs, and chickens. I’m also interested in translation and Moodle (well, digital tools for teaching, in general).
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