In a tragic turn of events, renowned Palestinian poet and literature professor, Dr. Refaat Alareer, lost his life in an Israeli airstrike, along with his brother, sister, and her four children.
Who was Dr. Refaat Alareer?
Dr. Alareer, a beloved professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, dedicated his career to teaching world literature, comparative literature, Shakespeare, and creative writing since 2007. He co-edited Gaza Unsilenced (2015) and edited Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine (2014). Additionally, he played a crucial role in founding We Are Not Numbers, a nonprofit organization nurturing a new generation of Palestinian writers.
Known for his impactful documentation and condemnation of Israeli atrocities through his Twitter account, “Refaat in Gaza,” Dr. Alareer used his platform to shed light on the plight of his people.
His poignant poem, posted on November 1, hinted at the impending tragedy and spoke to the resilience that inspired hope in dark times.
The news of his death has sparked grief and anger among friends, colleagues, and former students. Ahmed Alnaouq, his friend and co-founder of We Are Not Numbers, expressed the profound loss, stating that Refaat’s assassination is tragic and a huge loss.
Refaat Alareer’s decision not to evacuate northern Gaza was a testament to his commitment to bearing witness to Israel’s destruction. His last words, shared on December 4, conveyed a wish to be a freedom fighter and expressed blame towards the Democratic Party and President Joe Biden for the Gaza genocide.
Despite the sorrow, colleagues like Ramzy Baroud see Alareer’s death as the start of a new chapter of intellectual resistance. Baroud pledged to continue telling Alareer’s tale, ensuring that his legacy endures.
Refaat Alareer’s contributions to literature, education, and advocacy for Palestinian rights leave an indelible mark, and his untimely death is mourned by those he inspired.