Israel Prize Winners Call for Release of Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour

Around 170 intellectuals and cultural figures sign petition calling for charges to be dropped against Tatour, arrested almost a year ago because over a poem published online.

Dareen Tatour in Nazareth District Court.
Dareen Tatour in Nazareth District Court on May 8, 2016. "I never imagined that poetry and writing would lead to my arrest and such serious charges," she says. Rami Shllush

Four Israel Prize laureates are among about 170 intellectuals and cultural figures who have recently signed a petition calling for the release from custody of Israeli Arab poet Dareen Tatour

Tuesday marks a year since she was detained amid allegations of incitement. She is currently under house arrest at her parents' home. 

The signatories, who include writer A.B. Yehoshua, poet Tuvya Ruebner, philosophy professor Avishai Margalit and artist Tzibi Geva, are also calling for pending charges against her to be dropped.

Tatour, who in the past published a book of poetry in Arabic, was arrested in a police raid on her parents' home, where she also lived, in the village of Reineh near Nazareth. She was accused of incitement primarily over a poem that she wrote following the 2014 murder by Jews of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the murder of three members of the Palestinian Dawabsheh family in the West Bank town of Duma last year when their home was torched, allegedly also by Jews.

The poem, written in Arabic and posted on YouTube, is called “Resist my people, resist them.” She was charged with incitement to violence and terrorism. Although not directly referring to violence, some lines of the poem allude to joining martyrs and not “succumbing to the ‘peaceful solution.’”

They include:

“Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.”

After Tatour was arrested in October of last year, she was transferred over a three-month period among a number of detention facilities and ultimately placed under house arrest in an apartment in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono. Recently, however, she was allowed to move to her parents' home, but has been barred from working or using the internet. 

The petition, which was started by poet Tal Nitzan, alleges that the treatment of Tatour reflects a policy of serious discrimination when it comes to the freedom of expression of Israeli Arabs. "The attempt to cast a criminal light on legitimate political protest makes frank discourse impossible and is designed to block any horizon for dialogue between Jews and Arabs in the country," the petition reads.

Also taking note of the attention that Tatour's case has gotten abroad, the petition calls for a halt to what it says is the "persecution" of Tatour.