Israel killed Refaat Alareer. At 6 pm on Wednesday, December 6, it “surgically bombed” the second-floor apartment he was sheltering in, his sister’s home, the only apartment in a three-storey building it bombed. It killed the 44-year-old literature professor along with his brother, Salah, and one of his children, Mohammed, his sister, Asmaa, three of her children, Alaa, Yahia, and Mohammed, and a neighbour of theirs. The account, by witnesses and survivors, including his brother’s wife, Alaa, and two of their children, Rafik and Alma, who were wounded by the bomb, was published by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, which described his murder as a targeted killing.

A Shakespeare specialist and among the best-known academics in the Gaza strip of occupied Palestine, Refaat Alareer gave many interviews in the past weeks from his home in Gaza city, which he refused to leave. He received a number of death threats from the Israeli military, and while his wife and children and he left temporarily for shelter at a UN school in southern Gaza, he returned to his home, after the Israeli military threatened him again in the new location, and continued to share views and updates about the latest aggression on Gaza in the mainstream and social media.

Ahmed Bedier, of the civil society organisation United Voices for America, told the press 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, were the main reason that the occupying army “wanted to silence him… The international sentiment has begun shifting against Israel. So they’re trying to silence any other narrative other than theirs.”

A clip from one of his last interviews:

Alareer taught comparative literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, which Israel has also bombed. Among his recent publications was an edited volume of short stories called Gaza Writes Back – he is pictured with contributors and fellow writers Rawan Yaghi and Yousef Aljamal below – and he was co-founder of the We Are Not Numbers project that helps organise writing workshops for young Palestinians in occupied Gaza. In a recent statement before his murder, Alareer compared the October 7 attack on Israel to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and as a key speaker at Gaza’s first TED talk described his home, Shujayea, an epicentre of resistance to Israeli aggressions, in these terms: “Shujayea refuses to be defeated. Shujayea is now the epitome of resurrection that refuses to kneel to Israel’s barbarity.” And recalled how his brother was killed and their family home destroyed by the Israeli attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, saying: “I am participating to give voice to my birthplace and the fallen ones of Shujayea, whose love of Palestine we must promote.”

He was remembered by Palestinian-American poet Mosab Abu Toha, whom Israeli soldiers abducted and beat while he was fleeing south from Gaza city last month. Mosab was released and reunited with his family later, and in a social media post remembered how he would go strawberry picking with Refaat. Gaza is famous for its strawberries.

Mosab Abu Toha wrote this poem on living in Gaza under Israeli occupation.

His brother Hamza remembered his library which was gutted by the Israelis last month.

“This is the first part of my library that was destroyed, a library that I considered to be the best of its kind in Palestine in terms of books on grammar, morphology, language, literature, interpretation, and readings. I started buying it when I was in the seventh grade when I was thirteen years old.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Culture recently released a report documenting two months of cultural destruction in the occupied Gaza Strip. Besides the many buildings destroyed, which were spaces full of musical instruments, historical artifacts, clothes, paintings, books, and memories, the report remembers some of the “living martyrs in the cultural sector” killed by Israel in two months of war.

The report begins: “The war against our people in Gaza continues, and their resilience persists despite the daily crimes committed by the occupation. This blind war spares nothing and disregards all human values, ethics, and international laws. The essence of this war is rooted in the attempt to eradicate and erase our people, to displace and expel them. Therefore, it targets everything in the Gaza Strip, devastating all aspects of life, from humans to buildings, trees, and water sources. During this genocidal war, all aspects of life are targeted without exception. As usual, the cultural life of the country is targeted as part of this relentless war against our people, which essentially aims to complete the Nakba plan that began in 1948. The grandson of the gang’s soldier who bombed the Red Cinema in Jaffa seventy-five years ago destroyed the Rashad Al-Shawwa Center in Gaza, and the same mentality that targeted the National Museum in Jerusalem during the Nakba days later targeted the Qarara Museum and the ‘Museum’ afterward. The war on culture has always been at the heart of the aggressors’ war on our people, as the real war is a war on the narrative to steal the land and its rich treasures of knowledge, history, and civilization, along with the stories it holds.”

“Photographer Marwan Tarazi, along with several members of his family, was martyred during the Israeli aggression on the Orthodox Church of Porphyrius in Gaza on October 20. He was known as the ‘visual historian of Gaza.’ He had preserved its history through thousands of photographs taken over decades, including the old photographs of the historic Gaza photographer ‘Kegham.’ Marwan Tarazi continued his work in the city before and after the Nakba, capturing images of the Khan Yunis massacres and the Israeli army’s withdrawal in 1956, which were the only rare images at the time.”

“Dr Sufian Taieh (52 years old), the president of the Islamic University of Gaza, along with his family, was martyred in the massacre in the Faluja area in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on December 2. Professor Taieh holds a professorship in theoretical physics and applied mathematics. He has received the Abdul Hameed Shoman Award for Young Arab Scientists and many other scientific awards. He has made significant contributions to scientific studies and research, and in 2023, he was appointed holder of the UNESCO Chair in Physics and Astrophysics and Space Science in Palestine.”

“Writer and Palestinian heritage advocate Abdul Karim Al-Hashash (76 years old) along with many of his family members, was martyred on October 23 in the city of Rafah. Al-Hashash was known for his writings on Palestinian folk heritage and his research on Bedouin heritage, customs, and Arab proverbs. He also collected dozens of rare books about Palestine, its history and its heritage in his library.”

“Sham Abu Obeid (8 years old) and Leila Abdel Fattah Al-Atarsh (8 years old), members of the Palestinian dabke group ‘Champions,’ were martyred in Gaza.”

“Writer and poet, Heba Kamal Saleh Abu Nada (24 years old), was martyred on October 20th. She was a refugee from the displaced and destroyed village of Beit Jirja in 1948. She wrote stories, novels, and poetry. Her last post on social media read, ‘We, up here, are building another city, doctors without patients or blood, professors without crowds... New families without pain or sorrow, journalists capturing paradise, and poets writing eternal love, all from Gaza. A new Gaza without a siege in paradise is forming now.’”

This is Stuart Seldowitz. A former deputy director in the US State Department, and former political advisor to Barack Obama, he was fired from his think-tank job after video of his racist, Islamophobic rant against two halal cart vendors last month started doing the rounds.

For his persistence, Seldowitz was charged with aggravated harassment, hate crime and stalking. Bahaa Hassan and Muhammad Hussein, the immediate targets of his dangerous speech, are pictured below, as the food cart gains patrons in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York.

Edward Wadie Said wrote in his landmark study of Orientalism in 1978:

“Yet after the 1973 war the Arab appeared everywhere as something more menacing. Cartoons depicting an Arab sheik standing behind a gasoline pump turned up consistently. These Arabs, however, were clearly ‘Semitic’: their sharply hooked noses, the evil mustachioed leer on their faces, were obvious reminders (to a largely non-Semitic population) that ‘Semites’ were at the bottom of all ‘our’ troubles, which in this case was principally a gasoline shortage. The transference of a popular anti-Semitic animus from a Jewish to an Arab target was made smoothly, since the figure was essentially the same.

“Thus if the Arab occupies space enough for attention, it is as a negative value. He is seen as the disrupter of Israel’s and the West’s existence, or in another view of the same thing, as a surmountable obstacle to Israel’s creation in 1948. Insofar as this Arab has any history, it is part of the history given him (or taken from him: the difference is slight) by the Orientalist tradition, and later, the Zionist tradition. Palestine was seen—by Lamartine and the early Zionists—as an empty desert waiting to burst into bloom; such inhabitants as it had were supposed to be inconsequential nomads possessing no real claim on the land and therefore no cultural or national reality. Thus the Arab is conceived of now as a shadow that dogs the Jew. In that shadow—because Arabs and Jews are Oriental Semites—can be placed whatever traditional, latent mistrust a Westerner feels towards the Oriental. For the Jew of pre-Nazi Europe has bifurcated: what we have now is a Jewish hero, constructed out of a reconstructed cult of the adventurer-pioneer-Orientalist (Burton, Lane, Renan), and his creeping, mysteriously fearsome shadow, the Arab Oriental. Isolated from everything except the past created for him by Orientalist polemic, the Arab is chained to a destiny that fixes him and dooms him to a series of reactions periodically chastised by what Barbara Tuchman gives the theological name ‘Israel’s terrible swift sword.’

“Aside from his anti-Zionism, the Arab is an oil supplier. This is another negative characteristic, since most accounts of Arab oil equate the oil boycott of 1973-74 (which principally benefitted Western oil companies and a small ruling Arab elite) with the absence of any Arab moral qualifications for owning such vast oil reserves. Without the usual euphemisms, the question most often being asked is why such people as the Arabs are entitled to keep the developed (free, democratic, moral) world threatened. From such questions comes the frequent suggestion that the Arab oil fields be invaded by the marines.”

“In newsreels or newsphotos, the Arab is always shown in large numbers. No individuality, no personal characteristics or experiences. Most of the pictures represent mass rage and misery, or irrational (hence hopelessly eccentric) gestures. Lurking behind all of these images is the menace of jihad. Consequence: a fear that the Muslims (or Arabs) will take over the world.

“Books and articles are regularly published on Islam and the Arabs that represent absolutely no change over the virulent anti-Islamic polemics of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. For no other ethnic or religious group is it true that virtually anything can be written or said about it, without challenge or demurral. The 1975 course guide put out by the Columbia College undergraduates said about the Arabic course that every other word in the language had to do with violence, and that the Arab mind as ‘reflected’ in the language was unremittingly bombastic. A recent article by Emmett Tyrrell in Harper’s magazine was even more slanderous and racist, arguing that Arabs are basically murderers and that violence and deceit are carried in the Arab genes. A survey entitled The Arabs in American Textbooks reveals the most astonishing misinformation, or rather the most callous representations of an ethnic-religious group. One book asserts that ‘few people of this [Arab] area even know that there is a better way to live,’ and then goes on to ask disarmingly, ‘What links the people of the Middle East together?’ The answer, given unhesitatingly, is, ‘The last link is the Arab’s hostility—hatred—toward the Jews and the nation of Israel.’”

“Like a whale, it is not satisfied with what inspires it.

He becomes thirsty and his mouth is in the sea.”