Jared Malsin

On the Middle East

Brave, big-hearted Vittorio Arrigoni is dead

with 8 comments

Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian Palestine solidarity activist and journalist, was killed this evening after being kidnapped hours earlier by a little-known fringe Salafi group in Gaza. It was the first kidnapping of an international in Gaza in the nearly four years since Hamas took control.

I met Vittorio several times when I was in Gaza last year. I first met him when I accompanied him and several other activists to visit Palestinian families who had been injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes in the mid-Gaza area. He was a burley, bearded man, dressed in black and smiling wide. Talking politics the whole way, we shared the front seat of a van on the ride from Gaza City down to Deir Al-Balah. He had a tattoo of the word “resistance” (“muqawama”) in Arabic on the inside of his right arm.

He was a man who lived and died to express his solidarity with Palestinians. He was big-hearted and he was brave, twice participating in blockade-defying sea voyages to Gaza, three times jailed by Israel for his activism.

He embodied a certain spirit of the European anti-fascists of the 1930s and ’40s, who went to fight and die as partisans in Italy and Spain. “I come from a partisan family,” he once told an interviewer. “My grandfathers fought and died struggling against an occupation, another occupation. It was the Nazi-Fascist one. For this reason, probably, in my DNA, there are particles that push me to struggle.”

His murder is an outrage and an enormous tragedy.

Those who knew him better than I will write better tributes. I’ll quote now from In Gaza, a blog written by Eva, one of Vittorio’s ISM colleagues:

Stay human, he always said. And so was the title of his book on the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-2009. Stay human.

Viks blog, Guerilla Radio, gave voice to Palestinians who have strong voices but are denied the microphone.

During the Israeli war on Gaza, we all worked together, riding in ambulances, documenting the martyred and the wounded, the vast majority (over 83%) civilian. Vik was always on the phone, Italian media taking his words and printing them for the public to see.

Aside from the loss of a compassionate, caring human, activist, and friend, I am saddened by the group that did this. Surely they knew Vik was with them, for them. But in every society, including my own, there are extremists, people who act with misguided guidance.

Vik was there, among the war casualties, among the on-going martytrs unspoken in the corporate media, celebrating Palestines beauty and culture, dancing Dabke at my wedding celebration.

He was there to joke with us, to counsel us, to smoke shisha by the sea…He wrote the truth, spoke the truth, stayed human.

Vik, my brother, allah yerhamek, bless you for your humanity and your great contribution to Palestinian justice. I will miss you, your smile, your humble, fun personality.

Yatikalafia ya Vitorrio.

And here, via ISM, is the video from which I quote above:

Written by jaredmalsin

14 April 2011 at 11:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. I am shocked at the murder of this honorable man. May he rest in peace. My heart felt condolences to Vittorio’s family and friends.


    15 April 2011 at 5:52 am

  2. Vittorio Arrigoni you in our hearts forever.
    you are symbol of freedom iam really so sad and please if you can help me to talk with his family tell me
    we will not forget you FOREVER

    mohammed khalil bashir

    15 April 2011 at 7:06 am

  3. i am one of the Palestinians who lives in Gaza

    mohammed khalil bashir

    15 April 2011 at 7:46 am

  4. Vittorio Arrigoni. You are a brave human being. I never knew you until I heard your death news. Your life was never in vain. You lived for a noble cause and died for a noble cause. You shall be remembered by entire humanity for your bravery and solidarity for the oppressed.

    Suhail A Wahab

    15 April 2011 at 8:57 am

  5. […] Brave, big-hearted Vittorio Arrigoni is dead | Jared Malsin Weblog […]

  6. […] April 17, 2011 at 08:18 (Activism, Assassinations, Extremism, Gaza) From Jared Malsin […]

  7. “But in every society, including my own, there are extremists, people who act with misguided guidance.”

    However, it does appear that the Arab world has a greater portion of extremists, at least for political reasons. There is surely as much death and mayhem in Latin America, but that is financial – drug trade.

    Not enough news coming out of central asia, but that violence is also among an Islamic people?

    Chris Berel

    27 April 2011 at 7:29 am

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