Remembering Samah Idriss: “If we abandon Palestine, we abandon ourselves”

On the first anniversary of his passing on 25 November 2021, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network remembers Arab intellectual and struggler Samah Idriss, who dedicated his life to the liberation of Palestine and the Arab region. The editor-in-chief of Al-Adab magazine and co-founder of the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of “Israel” in Lebanon, he was a leading voice for the Arab boycott movement, a co-founder of the Masar Badil, the Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement, and a writer, thinker and revolutionary who inspired many on the road to liberation.

Listen to Samah Idriss interviewed on Voice of Palestine, by Hanna and Marion Kawas, in 2014:

In this interview for the Collectif Palestine Vaincra, Samah discusses the mutually supportive relationship between boycott and all forms of resistance:

Less than a month before his passing, his final speech was delivered to the inaugural conference of the Masar Badil in Beirut, ending with the words — a call for Arab unity, action and rejection of normalization — that have come to represent his legacy: “If we abandon Palestine, we abandon ourselves.”

In the year since Samah’s passing, Samidoun fundraised to open and create the Samah Idriss hall at the chess club in Shatila camp where Samah would read weekly to Palestinian children, even at his busiest moments. This year, the Masar Badil and many organizations — including Samidoun — are involved in over 20 events in honour of his life in struggle, including events in Shatila camp, Beirut, Vancouver, Madrid, Berlin, Malmo and elsewhere.

Samah Idriss never hesitated to stand with the prisoners and their struggle for freedom, organizing actions and Arab campaigns, editing issues of Al-Adab dedicated to the liberation of the prisoners, not to mention meeting with and organizing with Samidoun delegations to Lebanon. He was an Arab struggler committed to Arabic language and Arab liberation with one approach, a true internationalist, and one who lived his life dedicated to the cause of Palestine.

He continues to present us with an inspiration and an example as we work to achieve those goals he shared, and we join in the salute of the Palestinian prisoners: “We mourn you as a writer, an intellectual, a comrade, and a fighter for the freedom for which you died. Sleep with clear eyes, and know that the road to freedom will never be cut off for free people.”

As we remember him today, we republish the letter from the Palestinian prisoners’ movement in honour of Samah Idriss on his passing:

The prisoners’ message in memory of Samah Idriss

It is an unusual morning, when the news of your departure comes to sink its teeth into the delicateness of love and emotion, the morning turns into sunset and your soul sets there, Samah. We remain in its shade as it flutters and fills the space on this exceptional morning. The news of the tragedy of your departure replaces for now our thoughts of liberation and freedom. Your absence keeps us transfixed in time, we look around us and remember you, and we still need your words and your committed, principled positions. We are still in the middle of the road to freedom, Samah.

Your news has traveled and reached us as the dew drops fade from the prison fences and bars. With it, our feelings crept in, and we felt the wound of losing you publicly. We want you to hear our last cry, you, who always spoke with our voice and our screams, or perhaps we want to bid you farewell with a whisper of screaming.

Our words will certainly reach you. We are in the prisons of the Zionist colonizer, and we wanted to meet you. You can see and, as you taught us, the journey is still long, and our lamp still needs a lot of oil, so why have you left now?!

Samah, we know that you have not left the mountain. You are as a mountain in your stances, and your steps are engraved in the path of this long journey. You are our beloved comrade, a companion on the hard path of struggle, a friend on the long road. Your body has left us, but your spirit will remain an inspiration to us. Your words and your positions are a beacon that we raise, debate and discuss as we walk. We will keep walking, comrade, until we get there.

From behind bars, behind walls, behind fences, in the clutches of the Zionists, we salute your family, your loved ones, your comrades and your companions. We mourn you with pride and admiration, and the highest commitment to the struggle. We mourn you as a writer, an intellectual, a comrade, and a fighter for the freedom for which you died. Sleep with clear eyes, and know that the road to freedom will never be cut off for free people.

Your comrades in the occupation prisons

26 November 2021