Protestors rebrand former Berkeley Library in honour of slain Palestinian poet

Refaat Alareer was a poet from Gaza who was killed by the IDF last year

The Library, formerly known as the Berkeley Library, has been unofficially renamed as “the Refaat Alareer Library” by student protestors in the ongoing encampment to protest College’s continued ties to Israel and silence on the genocide in Gaza.

The encampment is organised by Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and Trinity Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (TCD BDS).

Refaat Alareer was a Palestinian poet, writer, and academic most known in the West for his 2011 poem “If I must die”, widely popularised since the beginning of Israel’s assault on Gaza. It has since been translated in to over 40 languages.

Alareer was killed by an Israeli bombardment on December 6, 2023, in Northern Gaza, alongside his brother, sister, and four nieces and nephews.

Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor have claimed that Alareer was deliberately targeted by the Israeli army, saying that his apartment was “surgically targeted” within the whole building.

Protestors have written his name in chalk on the plaque outside the main library entrance. This formerly read ‘The Berkeley Library’ before being removed after College’s landmark decision to dename the library due to Berkeley’s owning of enslaved people.

This action took place nearly 24 hours after the encampment first began. Around 8PM on Friday students pitched tents on Fellow’s Square, outside the Arts Block, and later barricaded the entrance to the Old Library, which houses the Book of Kells.

It echoes similar acts by students from Columbia University in New York, who occupied a building on their campus and renamed it to “Hind’s Hall”, in honour of 6 year old Hind Rajab from Gaza who was also killed by Israeli bombs.

Organisers of the protest plan to continue the encampment “indefinitely, until [their] demands are met”. College has since limited access to campus to staff and students with a valid College ID, closed libraries and student spaces, and cancelled events which were due to take place on campus.

This post was edited on May 5, 2024 at 22:15 to correct the fact that the poem “If I must die” was written in 2011 and not 2023.