ALI QASED, SON OF PALESTINE, DIES AT 62
Ali Qased, long-time activist and organizer for Palestinian national rights, died in the early hours of Sunday, April 3rd, 2005, after spending nearly two weeks in a New Jersey Hospital. He had been battling health problems for the last three years, and finally succumbed to complications from heart failure at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Patterson, New Jersey. He was 62.
Qased was born in a village near Ramallah, Ein Yabrood, on May 27th, 1942, six years before Al-Nakba, or “the Catastrophe,” when over 750,000 Palestinians were driven off their land by European Jewish settler-colonialists and their British allies. That moment in the history of the Palestinian people stayed with Qased his whole life, and prompted him to dedicate his political work to fighting for the Right of Return for all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.
As a teenage activist, Qased was forced into exile to Egypt, where he studied and gained a degree in economics and political science from the American University of Cairo. Egypt was also the place where he became influenced by the ideas of Jamal Abdel-Nasser and ultimately joined the ideologically-similar Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM). After moving to Puerto Rico, he also gained a Master’s Degree from the American University of Puerto Rico.
A leader in the Palestinian and Arab community of New York, Qased also organized Palestinians in Ohio, New Jersey, and Algeria, where he lived for eight years. But it is his work in the United States that will be missed the most. He influenced activists all across the country, and will always be remembered for his strong will, principled stances, and mentorship of two generations of Palestinian and Palestinian-American organizers and activists. Adherents of his ideas and views can be found in many cities in the U.S., from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Youngstown, Ohio, to Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, and New York.
His ideas were militant and revolutionary, but grounded in a brilliant understanding of community organizing—meeting people at all different political levels, and helping to move them forward to advanced views of the world. He obviously saw Israel and Zionism as the enemies of his people, but also recognized the roles that U.S. imperialism and Arab reactionary regimes play in the repression of Palestinian national rights. And most importantly, he was an internationalist, supporting national liberation and workers’ struggles all across the globe, including the U.S.
One of his protégés commented on an irony associated with his death: “Ali was a man who spent his whole life fighting for Palestinian national rights, especially the Right of Return. But he’ll be buried in New Jersey, while American Jews from Brooklyn have the ‘right’ to be buried in Jerusalem, the capital of his nation, Palestine. He lived and died in exile [barred by Israel from returning to Palestine], like most Palestinians, as a proud representative of the heroism and steadfastness of an entire people.”
Qased is survived by his strong and loving wife of 29 years, Fatma; four daughters, Arwa, Khulood, Rama, and Reem; two sons, Jamil and Hakam; one granddaughter, Fatma; and three grandsons, Ali, Wajih, and Adam. He is loved by many around the world, and will be greatly missed.