Remembering Badran Jaber: A Life in Revolution

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes the revolutionary life of Badran Jaber, veteran of the Palestinian liberation struggle, upon his passing on 25 January 2022. Jaber, a leader and co-founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was a symbol of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement. He was repeatedly arrested, interrogated and imprisoned in the unsuccessful attempts of the Israeli occupation to break his will and commitment to liberation.

An icon of struggle for his refusal to confess and his resistance under interrogation, he participated until the last days of his life in demonstrations, gatherings and mobilizations for Palestinian prisoners and for justice and liberation for the Palestinian people. Only 15 days ago, he joined the solidarity actions for Nasser Abu Hmaid, demanding the immediate release of the ill Palestinian prisoner. He called for the liberation of Georges Abdallah, the Lebanese Arab Communist struggler for Palestine, imprisoned in France for over 37 years, as a part of the Palestinian prisoners’ movement.

In a 2016 interview, he said: “The official Israeli policy is to try to break the human spirit of Palestinians by refusing to recognize their human rights inside and outside of prisons…So what the Israelis need to understand about their detention policies is that prisoners become, first off, heroes of the national liberation struggle. These heroes form the base of a leadership that articulates the alternative to this close collaboration with the occupation.”

Jaber was born in al-Khalil in 1947. During his life, he was arrested over 20 times and spent around 15 years in interrogation cells and Israeli occupation prisons. He entered political activity in 1965 during the marches against former Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba in al-Khalil and Jericho, when he called for “compromise” and “gradual steps” against the Zionist occupation. The protests were led by the Arab Nationalist Movement and the Heroes of Return organization, and Badran Jaber became involved, officially joining the Heroes of Return shortly before June 1967 and the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.

He was involved with building the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine inside occupied Palestine as well as the student movement at the University of Jordan. After three and a half years of dedicated work, he was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces and subjected to severe torture under interrogation. He remained silent and refused to confess, even as his brother Fahmi was sentenced to life imprisonment and his family home was demolished by occupation forces.

Two years later, he was again arrested and accused of membership in the PFLP and developing the armed struggle in occupied Palestine. The group that he formed made not only political connections with progressive and revolutionary Jews such as the “Black Panther” movement, but also involved Jewish members in the armed struggle as part and parcel of the liberation movement.

1989: Three leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Abdel-Alim Daana to the right, Badran Jaber to the left and behind them is Rebhi Haddad in the middle, while two Israeli soldiers walk behind them in front of the Israeli High Court of Justice during one of their court sessions. Source: Palestinian Museum Digital Archive

Despite confessions against him, he remained steadfast under interrogation, even as he was transferred to multiple prisons and interrogation centers, including al-Khalil, Moskobiya, Akka, Damon and al-Jalameh, for three years. He was arrested twice more in 1980, again in 1985, again in 1987, and then again in 1998. For another five and a half years, he was subjected to house arrest in al-Khalil.

Not only did Israeli occupation forces attack him with physical torture; they also used psychological methods of torture in an attempt to extract a confession. He recalled one interrogation in 1985, where an Israeli interrogator showed him a forged document from the Red Cross declaring that his wife had died in childbirth. He had been under interrogation for a month and a half; he continued to refuse to confess or provide any information to the interrogators, and he later confirmed the health of his wife and newborn daughter.

In 1988, he was one of the first prisoners to enter the Negev desert prison immediately after it was opened by the Israeli occupation in response to the great popular intifada. Five of his children, Ghassan, Nasser, Fadi, Majd and Wadie, have been imprisoned by the Israeli occupation for various periods of time.

During the 2000s, he was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on multiple occasions and frequently thrown in administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. Indeed, he was last released from administrative detention on 21 May 2020, after eight months of imprisonment without charge or trial, at the age of 72. During his time behind bars, he participated in multiple hunger strikes and prisoners’ resistance actions, as active in struggle as always.

He remained committed throughout his life to a revolutionary vision of Palestinian liberation, making clear that the path of Oslo was a disaster for the Palestinian people. He consistently and firmly denounced the Palestinian Authority and its policies of “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation, affirming the legitimacy and necessity of Palestinian resistance until return and liberation.

He laid out his political perspectives in the 2016 interview:

“From the first day that I began to read Marxist-Leninist thought as a philosophy to analyze the political, social and economic condition of the world. My readings brought me to the point where I realized a human is a human. And that societies are divided into two categories: the oppressor and the oppressed. I made the decision that I am with the oppressed — irrespective of identity, nationality, religion or geographical divisions. American, Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, Greek. The oppressed is oppressed wherever he is, and the oppressor is the oppressor wherever he is. Being from a poor family and living under subjugation and domination, I found myself a friend to all the oppressed….There is the idea that a nation that oppresses another nation is not free. I would say that in the case of Israel, even the beneficiaries of the occupation are not free….

At the international level it is well known that in 1969 we began building armed alliances in Lebanon and in Jordan. There were our international partners: Germans, Japanese, French, Spanish, Basque, Irish. They were with us in the training camps.

You can say that we did not start out in opposition to anything. We arrived at our positions through a dialectic. We never hated anyone who didn’t harass us. On the other hand, we welcomed anyone who was willing to join in our struggle for achieving self-determination on our land like every other people in the world.”

“Badran Jaber is a true revolutionary leader who spent most of his life fighting for the liberation of Palestine, despite the many years in Zionist dungeons and torture cells and the economic and social challenges he faced as someone who gave his life to the struggle, coming from the popular classes of al-Khalil. He fought relentlessly for the interests and the rights of the Palestinian working class,” said Khaled Barakat, Palestinian writer and activist.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network mourns the passing of Badran Jaber and salutes his life of struggle as an icon of steadfastness, revolution and commitment to liberation. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, comrades, loved ones, and the Palestinian people and the Arab and international strugglers. He was a leader of the student movement, the prisoners’ movement and the Palestinian revolutionary movement as a whole, and his vision continues to inspire us on the road to return, justice and liberation for Palestine, from the river to the sea.