Another day, another Israeli assassination of a leading Gaza educator. Refaat Alareer was a highly popular Professor of English at the Islamic University, a poet, author and blogger. So the Israelis killed him. He had been living in a refugee camp but on receiving anonymous calls from Israel threatening his life, he moved back to his sister’s flat, on the middle floor of a three-story building. Shortly afterwards, Israel targeted the middle floor of the building, killing Refaat, his brother, sister and her three children. Peter Larson remembers his friend in the following report published in Peter’s blog, Canada Talks Israel/ Palestine.


English professor, poet and author Refaat Alareer (L) was killed when Israel bombed his home earlier this week. I first met Refaat in his office at the Islamic University of Gaza in 2018. In a prophetic last video recorded days before he was murdered, he was angry and fatalistic.” What do the Israelis want?”, he asked. “For us to commit mass suicide? We wont do that“. See the video he recorded just before he was killed. More…

Professor Alareer helped young Palestinian students send their stories over the wall of the Gaza blocadeProfessor Refaat Alareer was a mild mannered and slightly bookish English teacher. His name can now be added to the list of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children whom Israel has murdered in the last two months, while many Canadian politicians avert their eyes.

Refaat was the editor of “Gaza Writes Back”, a compelling anthology of short stories from fifteen young writers in Gaza who had suffered immensely under Israel’s siege and blockade. Their experiences, especially during and following Israel’s 2008-2009 assault known as “Operation Cast Lead”, fundamentally impacted their lives and their writing.

Refaat went on to create a writers collective called “We are not Numbers” (WANN) which encouraged and helped young Palestinian writers to share their lives with English language readers around the world.

What was Refaat’s crime? To be Palestinian

Refaat was not killed because he was a Hamas “terrorist”. (He didn’t have a gun).

Israel claims it is waging a war on Hamas. It is not. It is waging a war on all Palestinians – in Gaza, in the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Israel killed Refaat, like they have killed nearly 20,000 others in Gaza, because he was Palestinian.

“My mom made me the man I am because of her stories; and my grandmother made me love my homeland because of her stories,” Alareer noted in a speech several years ago to Ted Talks.

For 76 years, millions of Palestinians have bravely resisted Israel’s attempt to push them out and take over their land. Starting with the Nakba in 1947/48, Israel has murdered thousands and exiled millions to refugee status. Refaat’s grandmother was exiled by Israel. And now Israel has killed her grandson, a bookish professor of English. And for 76 years, too many Canadian politicians have looked the other way.