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Remembering Palestinian poet and writer Refaat Alareer

Refaat Alareer (right) and Yousef Aljamal (middle)while on their 2014 American publishing tour for "Gaza Writes Back," an anthology of short stories of young writers in Palestine, which was edited by Alareer and included a story from Aljamal. (Courtesy)
Refaat Alareer (right) and Yousef Aljamal (middle)while on their 2014 American publishing tour for "Gaza Writes Back," an anthology of short stories of young writers in Palestine, which was edited by Alareer and included a story from Aljamal. (Courtesy)

Palestinian poet and writer Refaat Alareer was killed Wednesday in an Israeli airstrike that also killed six other members of his family.

We hear about Alareer’s life and work from Yousef Aljamal, a fellow Palestinian writer and a close friend of Refaat.

Writers remember Refaat Alareer

Dr. Refaat, the one who loved by every heart, has been martyred.

He was assassinated by the barbaric Israel. He was known for beating them with every interview he did, with every chapter he wrote.

He wasn’t an armed fighter, but he was a threat.

Dr. Refaat was the best. He was so courageous and smart. He was the one who encouraged us to do many things, and when we got tired or bored, he was tough with us. Later, we realized it was tough love. He wanted us to better, to achieve more.

He was the biggest reason why I now love English, even though I wanted to quit my major many times.

If I wrote from now until tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to compliment him enough.

— Younes Elhallaq

He is one of the reasons why I speak, write poetry, and advocate for Palestine in English! His work and coaching gave strength to young Palestinian writers and poets, despite the challenges we face. I wrote this for him:

If you must rest, let hope ignite,

You are the light in the dark night

Rest in peace, your tale we will share,

Your kite of hope, beyond compare,

In Gaza’s sky, it’ll forever thrive,

Professor Refaat, you’ll be alive.

— Mohammed Arafat

He left a legacy that, if we live, we will continue to talk about and “pay forward” the rest of our time.

— Fatima Al-Zahraa

Tributes courtesy of We Are Not Numbers.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.