“Basil was a reflection of the comprehensive activist,” said Palestinian leftist writer and coordinator of the campaign to free Ahmad Sa’adat, Comrade Khaled Barakat, speaking about the Zionist occupation’s assassination of Palestinian youth activist and struggler Basil al-Araj on Monday morning, March 6.
Al-Araj was shot down by occupation forces after months of pursuit and repeated raids on his family’s home. A prominent Palestinian youth activist, he was known for his work in Palestinian oral history and documentation, his writing and cultural work and his activity in organizing demonstrations, particularly focusing on building collectively among Palestinian youth. Seized by Palestinian Authority security forces in security coordination with the Israeli occupation in April 2016, he was imprisoned by the PA for months along with his comrades until they were freed in a hunger strike. He never returned to his family home and was pursued by occupation forces. He fought back and resisted the invading forces who came in an assassination raid to the home he was staying in el-Bireh until his last breath.
“He saw the relationship between all forms of struggle, and he recognized the right and the duty to participate in all forms of struggle when possible. The act of resistance is not only found in the direct clashes and confrontations with the enemy; it is bigger and wider, and it stems from a political position, the culture of struggle and the idea of revolution, along with the practice of struggle,” Barakat said.
“He was involved in all aspects of Palestinian struggle, from demonstrations to cultural work to resistance, working to transform theory into practice. Basil is a representation of the soul of the Palestinian youth who want to participate and become fully engaged in the process of liberation,” said Barakat. “Basil realized the importance of cultural resistance and the resistance of history. That’s why he became involved in researching and developing the oral history of Palestinian resistance, documenting the struggle of Palestinians from the earliest days of their revolution against colonization and settler colonial occupation.”
“For him, to be a Palestinian revolutionary intellectual, you must be in confrontation with occupation and struggle to bring down all internal Palestinian chains and blockades, as represented by the PA,” Barakat said. “Basil studied in Cairo and visited Amman, Beirut and other Arab cities on many occasions. He was working to build bridges between Palestinians inside and outside. That’s why the first demonstrations after his assassination were in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and in the other camps in Lebanon, as well as in Ramallah,” noted Barakat.
“Basil is a representation of an entire Palestinian generation that finds itself today entering 100 years of struggle against colonization, occupation and oppression. And I have no doubt in my mind that they will succeed in liberating their cause and their voice, as they are providing examples every day for a new path away from the so-called peace process or the ‘Palestinian state,'” said Barakat. “In some ways, Basil al-Araj is the Steven Biko of Palestine, leading a youth movement and developing youth resistance with culture and struggle. His life and struggle is also reminiscent of assassinated youth leaders of the Black Panther Party and the Black liberation movement like Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, in his leadership, vision and commitment to struggle.”
“Basil was alert and aware of the struggles taking place outside Palestine. He participated in the boycott campaigns, actions against the apartheid wall, against normalization, led a campaign called ‘youth for dignity,’ confronted PA policies, negotiations and security coordination in the streets, presented in colleges and universities, worked to build research institutions, and he also carried a gun. These forms of struggle do not contradict each other; in fact, they complement each other, because what we need as Palestinians today, more than ever, is cultured, knowledgeable freedom fighters. Because it is revolutionary knowledge that directs the guns, and not the other way around,” Barakat said.
“The loss of Basil al-Araj is shocking in some ways, and it is a great loss. However, it is also expected, in fighting against a brutal enemy that does not hesitate a moment from its daily practice of extrajudicial executions and assassinations against the Palestinian people,” affirmed Barakat.
“Our response to this crime must mean strengthening the movement and rising to the challenges that we face today. We must build bridges between Palestinian youth in exile and in Palestine, and, most importantly, draw the lesson that the liberation of Palestine can only come through ‘theory and fire,’ words and actions – the correct words and the correct actions.”