In Memoriam: Samih Al-Qasim
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | August 20th, 2014- The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) expresses its condolences for the passing of the Palestinian poet, Samih Al-Qasim, who died of cancer at age 75 on August 19. Al-Qasim’s resistance poetry was a strong voice against Israeli occupation and oppression and an inspiration throughout the Arab World.
Al-Qasim was born in 1939 in Zarqa, Jordan to a Druze family from Galilee. He grew up in Al-Rama, Palestine, one of the largest villages in Galilee and the first Palestinian village to receive self-governing status under the British Mandate. Al-Qasim and his family remained in Rama after the Palestinian village was captured by Jewish paramilitary forces in the Nakba of 1948. After graduating from secondary school in Nazarath, Al-Qasim became an activist in the resistance movement against Israeli occupation.
Al-Qasim was an integral part of the resistance literature movement against Israeli oppression. He wrote more than thirty books of poetry, several novels, and collections of plays and essays. Most of Al-Qasim’s poetry was inspired by pan-Arabism and the changes that took place in Palestine before and after the Nakba. Al-Qasim recollected his experience of the Nakba in his book, About Principle and Art: “While I was still at primary school, the Palestinian tragedy occurred. I regard that date as the date of my birth, because the first images I can remember are of the 1948 events. My thoughts and images spring from the number 48.”
Al-Qasim was one of the first members of the Palestinian Druze community to refuse to serve in the Israeli military. Further, he was arrested and imprisoned several times by Israeli security forces for his political activism.
Al-Qasim managed the Arabesque Press publishing house and Folk Arts Center in Haifa, and wrote for publications including Al-Jadid and Al-Ittihad. He also worked as a journalist and was editor-in-chief of Israel’s mostly widely read Arabic-language weekly newspaper, Kul Al-Arab, which is available throughout the West Bank.
Al-Qasim’s revolutionary spirit and timeless art will surely live on in the hearts of Arabs throughout the world.
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