Israeli Arab poet jailed for ‘incitement’

Dareen Tatour

JERUSALEM: An Israeli court yesterday sentenced an Arab woman to five months in prison for incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization in poems and other social media posts, the justice ministry said. Dareen Tatour, 36 and an Israeli citizen, posted a video clip of herself reading her poem “Resist, my people, resist them,” in Oct 2015, accompanied by pictures of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to authorities. The posts on YouTube and Facebook came as a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence was erupting, including Palestinian knife attacks.

“I wasn’t expecting justice to be done. The case was political from the start, because I am Palestinian and support freedom of speech,” Tatour told reporters at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court in northern Israel. She was convicted in May and sentenced. The court also added a six-month suspended sentence to Tatour’s jail time, according to the official minutes distributed by the justice ministry. Her lawyer Gaby Lasky was expected to appeal.

Tatour’s prosecution has drawn international criticism. International writers group Pen has defended Tatour, saying she “has been convicted for doing what writers do every day – we use our words to peacefully challenge injustice”. The poem was quoted in Hebrew in the charge sheet, but according to an English translation on the Arabic literature and translation site ArabLit, it contains the following lines: “For an Arab Palestine, I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’, Never lower my flags, Until I evict them from my land, Resist the settler’s robbery, And follow the caravan of martyrs.”

Prosecutors said that on Oct 4, she also quoted a statement by Islamic Jihad calling for “continuation of the intifada in every part of the West Bank”, alleging it showed her support for the outlawed militant group. Tatour said her poem was misunderstood by the Israeli authorities as it was not a call for violence, rather for non-violent struggle. Tatour, from the Arab village of Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested on Oct 11, 2015. Her sentencing comes after the release on Sunday of Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi who served an eight-month sentence for slapping two Israeli soldiers, an episode recorded in a video that went viral. Tamimi, 17, was greeted by crowds of supporters and journalists upon her release in her hometown of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank. – Agencies

This article was published on 31/07/2018