‘Only Arabs go to jaiI’: Israel convicts Palestinian over poem

Dareen Tatour to appeal conviction for ‘resist’ poem that called for Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.

Dareen Tatour
Dareen Tatour has spent the last 16 months under house arrest and is barred from accessing the internet [Ammar Awad/Reuters]

Israel has convicted a Palestinian poet for inciting violence and supporting a “terror organisation” after she published poems on her Facebook page along with images of Palestinians protesting Israeli occupation.

Dareen Tatour, who has denied the charges, was convicted by a Nazareth court on Thursday for a 2015 social media post of a video with her reading one of her poems, titled “Resist, my people, resist.”

In the video, which received less than 300 views, Tatour urged Palestinians to never “agree to a peace solution”.

After the hearing, Tatour said she expected a conviction. “I am ready for anything, and I do not regret anything I have done.”

She said there was no call for violence in her poem, but calls for a struggle, which Israeli authorities interpreted as violent.


“The whole world will hear my story. The whole world will hear what Israel’s democracy is. A democracy for Jews only. Only Arabs go to jail. The court said I am convicted of terrorism. If that’s my terrorism, I give the world a terrorism of love,” she said.

Tatour was arrested in an Israeli police raid on October 11, 2015, and spent the next 16 months under house arrest, during which time she was barred from publishing her work and accessing the internet.

Since then, more than 150 American literary figures, including nine Pulitzer Prize winners, have called on Israel to free Tatour, including Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Natasha Trethewey and Jacqueline Woodson.

International writers group PEN defended Tatour in a statement on Thursday. “Dareen Tatour has been convicted for doing what writers do every day – we use our words to peacefully challenge injustice,” it said.

‘Buried freedom of speech’

“In essence what the court has done has buried the right of freedom of speech in its decision while we brought the court many many different poems of Jewish poets that have written through history, things that are harsher than what Dareen has written, and nobody even thought to criminalise their poems,” said Tatour’s lawyer Gaby Lasky.

The prosecution had argued Tatour’s posts “created a real possibility of inspired individuals committing acts of violence or terror.”

The court is expected to deliver its sentence against the 36-year-old sometime this month.

Israel has historically handed Palestinians lengthy prison sentences for minor offences.

Three years ago, Israel’s Knesset approved a law that imposes up to 20 years in prison on people convicted of throwing rocks, despite condemnation from rights groups.

Ahed Tamimi, a 16-year-old who has had three of her family members killed in the past year, is facing eight months in jail after slapping Israeli soldiers who raided her home.

The incident took place shortly after her 15-year-old cousin suffered life-threatening injuries after he was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.

In February, hundreds of Palestinians launched an open-ended boycott of Israel’s military courts to protest against prisoners being held without charge or trial.

Source: Al Jazeera