הקבינט הביטחוני הישראלי הורה על הוצאתו להורג של המשורר הפלסטיני רפאת אלאריר
PLEASE make a holiday donation (click link) to support stories like this which can only be reported through Tikun Olam’s unique access to Israeli security sources permitting me to tell the story of Israeli apartheid and genocide.
— Refaat in Gaza 🇵🇸 (@itranslate123) November 1, 2023
Refaat Alareer died. Correction: he was assassinated. Not because he was a Hamas commander. Not because he had harmed a hair on the head of an Israeli. He died because of a joke.
Refaat was a Palestinian poet and professor. It’s rare that countries assassinate poets. Not just murder them in wartime, but intentionally assassinate them. On Twitter, someone reminded me of the assassination of Ghassan Khanafani. The Chilean junta also murdered Victor Jara after the military coup.
But Refaat was an unusual combination of teacher and activist. He not only taught his students Palestinian poetry. He also taught them Hebrew poetry. For this, he was profiled in the New York Times: In Gaza, a Contentious Palestinian Professor Calmly Teaches Israeli Poetry. And the Times published an op-ed by him as well: My Child Asks, ‘Can Israel Destroy Our Building if the Power Is Out?’
Unlike Israel’s educational system, which promotes a triumphalist ideological indoctrination, Alareer’s teaching of Hebrew poetry analyzed and appreciated the beauty of the language, but critiqued that ideology underpinning it. This clearly unnerved the Times editors, presumably pressured by one of alphabet soup of pro-Israel media watchdog groups (CAMERA, MEMRI, Honest Reporting, etc), and published a “correction” to the profile.
He responded to them (unfortunately they did not offer a full quotation of what he wrote):
…He denied that there was a “substantial change” in his teaching and said that showing parallels between Palestinians and Jews was his “ultimate goal.” But he said that Israel used literature as “a tool of colonialism and oppression” and that this raised “legitimate questions” about Mr. Amichai’s poem.
Apparently, this sort of social-political-ideological analysis of literature, a method taught at almost all educational institutions, troubled these editors. Instead, their correction implied he was a propagandist, rather than an academic professor.
He wanted his students to be able to understand the Israeli perspective, if not to agree with it. He was a humanist and realized there was humanity, some at least, on the other side. Far too complicated for the liberal Zionism of the Times.
He had been slated to speak at the Palestinian Writes Literary Festival, which was vehemently attacked by the Israel Lobby. But he could not obtain a US visa because you must travel to the US embassy in Jerusalem and Israel refuses almost all requests by Gazans to enter Israel.
The event was held on the University of Pennsylvania campus, but not sponsored by it. Nevertheless, the Lobby blamed University President, Liz Magill and wanted her head on a pike. They got it when she and two other university presidents were hauled before a House Inquisition. Her appearance may have cost her her job.
Early in the war, the head of Israel’s emergency services, Eli Be’er, was brought to Las Vegas to arouse the righteous anger of the Republican Jewish Coalition about the horrors Hamas inflicted on Israel. One of the stories he told the gathering was that Hamas had burned babies in an oven. It was part of a string of such fabrications. Another was that 40 burned babies were strung on a clothesline. There were atrocities committed on 10/7. There was no need to make up even more lurid ones. But Be’er did. And over time these particular stories were disproven.
Who killed Refaat Alareer?
When Refaat first heard the story, he knew it was a lie. He tweeted a joke asking if they’d been baked “with or without baking powder.” Not the most tasteful joke. But at the time, when Israelis were reeling from tragedy and this story was circulating and enraging Israelis further, Refaat’s tweet marked him for death.
After he tweeted this, he was beset by Israeli thugs wishing death and other horrible suffering upon him, including sexual degradation against his family. Surely they added to the lust for revenge against him. His Twitter Followers also blame Bari Weiss, who brought attention to his tweet. While she is a vile Islamophobic human being, it wasn’t her fault…this time.
Though she has wide social media reach, the Daily Mail has far more. Its reporter, Jen Smith, sealed his death warrant with this hit piece, Palestinian professor previously published by the New York Times makes sick joke about claim Hamas BAKED baby in an oven. Smith and the Daily Mail have a lot to answer for. They put a target on his back and got him killed. I have asked her for comment about the role she played in his murder. But she has not responded.
Every claim against him was a lie. Not an anti-Semite. Not even a hater of Israelis. Just a hater of injustice, oppression, apartheid and genocide. He writes here movingly and even empathically about the Israeli soldier attacking him:
…Look in the mirror:
The horror, the horror!
The butt of your M-16 on my cheekbone
The yellow patch it left
The bullet-shaped scar expanding
Like a swastika,
Snaking across my face,
The heartache flowing
Out of my eyes dripping
Out of my nostrils piercing
My ears flooding
Like it did to you
70 years ago
I am just you.
I am your past haunting
Your present and your future.
I strive like you did.
I fight like you did.
I resist like you resisted
And for a moment,
I’d take your tenacity
As a model,
Were you not holding
The barrel of the gun
Between my bleeding
…The very same gun
The very same bullet
That had killed your Mom
And killed your Dad
Is being used,
Mark this bullet and mark in your gun.
If you sniff it, it has your and my blood.
It has my present and your past.
It has my present.
It has your future.
That’s why we are twins,
Same life track
Same facial expressions drawn
On the face of the killer,
Except that in your case
The victim has evolved, backward,
Into a victimizer.
I tell you.
I am you.
Except that I am not the you of now.
I do not hate you.
I want to help you stop hating
And killing me.
I tell you:
The noise of your machine gun
Renders you deaf
The smell of the powder
Beats that of my blood.
The sparks disfigure
My facial expressions.
Would you stop shooting?
For a moment?
All you have to do
Is close your eyes
(Seeing these days
Blinds our hearts.)
Close your eyes, tightly
So that you can see
In your mind’s eye.
Then look into the mirror.
I am you.
I am your past.
And killing me,
You kill you.
This sums up the full tragedy of Refaat’s execution: “and killing me, you kill you.” Israel’s genocide it a terminal cancer. A death sentence. A creeping national suicide. Not one that will be happen immediately. It will take some time. But any State which murders so many, so quickly and so easily cannot long endure. States rise and fall. Every single one. The Roman empire fell through greed, corruption, military adventurism and hubris. Israel today has many of the same traits.
Amalek and genocide
I broke the story here about Israel’s security cabinet issuing the Amalek Directive to assassinate six senior Hamas leaders and their families. It also similarly targeted specific journalists and their families. The IDF has murdered 80 journalists suggesting that it is deliberately targeting them for execution. This is a war crime.
An Israeli security source confirms my suspicion that the cabinet ordered Refaat’s execution, because his joke marked him as being a member of the tribe of Amalek. An eternal enemy of the Jewish people. He was no such thing of course.
He was a poet, a teacher who loved literature. He was also a champion of his people. He was an implacable enemy of injustice. For that he died. Along with him, Israel killed his brother, sister and their four children. It knew it would them along with the intended target. But killing entire families is now the Israeli modus operandi.
Euro Med Monitor offers this detailed account of the Shin Bet stalking him and its death threats; and the ways in which he attempted to save himself:
On Wednesday at around 18:00, Refaat al-Areer was killed in his sister’s home in al-Sidra neighborhood in al-Daraj area in Gaza city along with his brother Salah and one of his children (Mohammed); his sister Asmaa and three of her children (Alaa, Yahia, and Mohammed); and a neighbor. His brother’s wife, Alaa, and two other children, Rafik and Alma, were wounded in the assault.
The airstrike surgically targeted the apartment on the second floor where Rafaat was, in a 3-storey building, and not the entire building; indicating the apartment was the [specific] target…
Refaat was displaced multiple times during this war and ended up at his sister’s home along with his parents, wife and children. A few days ago, Refaat moved with his wife and children to an UNRWA school in al-Tufah neighborhood in Gaza according to his family.
However, a close friend of Refaat’s told Euro-Med Monitor that he had received an anonymous phone call from someone who identified himself as an Israeli officer and threatened Refaat that they knew precisely the school where he was located and were about to get to his location with the advancement of Israeli ground troops.
While the credibility of the threat itself is unclear, it contributed to prompting Refaat to move back to his sister’s apartment, believing it was more concealed than an open and overcrowded school where it would have been difficult to hide.
For weeks since the start of this war, Refaat has been receiving numerous death threats and hateful messages from Israeli accounts on social media after prominent public figures [Bari Weiss, among others] singled him out for harassment and incitement.
In 2014, Israel bombed Refaat’s home in Shejaiya and killed over 30 of his and his wife’s families.
I tweeted a link to this post to my account and it generated 50,000 impressions, which is astonishing for my tweets. I also gained over 800 Followers in 24 hours. So I had already posted a link to the blog post in my Facebook account. But I wanted to write a new message adding new information I’d included about Refaat’s murder. I tagged 47 Friends in the post then clicked Send. Next there was an error message saying I couldn’t tag specific users which it identified by number. I then untagged several Friends and tried to Save again. This time the message (see screenshot) said my account was suspended because I’d violated “community standards.”
Clearly, this is censorship of pro-Palestine speech. If you have an account, please post a link not only to this post, but also screenshots of my suspension notice. There is a Facebook Oversight Board with the power to overrule these decisions. I cannot access the Board’s Facebook page. I don’t know if you can file an appeal for me. But if you can, please do.
A cowed media
The Daily Mail article is part of the wretched job the media is doing in covering this war. It is just as cowed as University presidents, faculty, students, and politicians are. There are no foreign reporters there unless they are embedded with the IDF. As a result, they rely on stringers, whose work is never treated as seriously as their correspondents.
The media has reported stories like this which turned out to be hoaxes. It rarely publishes a correction or retraction. There are hundreds of media profiles of Israelis who died on 10/7, hostages held in Gaza, hostages who were freed. There are few comparable profiles of Gazans.
The media covers extensively the rapes committed on 10/7, but barely covers the 15,000 Gaza women and children who’ve died. Rape is a heinous crime. But there is a difference between being a victim of such crime and being dead.
Sometimes we see a picture of a father gently laying his dead infant daughter’s body in a bicycle basket and peddling off to God knows where: a hospital, a cemetery? But rarely see more than a fleeting picture. We see Gazans as victims, but rarely as people with a story to tell and a life to live. The media is at fault. It gets people killed, but acknowledges no responsibility for the irreparable harm it causes.