There was only room to stand in the Arab-Hebrew Theater of Jaffa on Wednesday night as hundreds showed their support for Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who was arrested in October 2015 after posting a poem on YouTube and Facebook.
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Tatour, who was charged with incitement, has now been under house arrest in her parents’ home in the Galilee village of Reineh, near Nazareth, for almost two years.
The auditorium was so full that organizers had to place additional seats in the foyer for attendees.
“She’s been under arrest for two years because of a poem denouncing the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the Dawabsheh family,” said Tatour’s father, Tawfik, who opened the event. He was referring to the July 2014 killing of a East Jerusalem teenager and the deaths of three members of a Palestinian family during an arson attack in the West Bank the following year.
“Despite the great injustice that was done to Dareen, we can and must live together in peace,” her father stated. “Regrettably, the ministers and prime minister use every chance they get to incite – not only against Arabs but against anyone who doesn’t agree with them; against anyone who wants to live in a world without occupation and racism,” he added.
“In October 2015, the police stormed the house of poet Dareen Tatour,” said journalist Orly Noy, hosting the evening. “Only during the third time they interrogated her did they show her the poem for which they arrested her, and for which she has been under arrest for two years."
“There’s a tendency to persecute Arab Israelis who see themselves as Palestinians, express their opinion on the occupation and object to Israel’s policy,” Noy added. “Today, we cry out: ‘Dareen Tatour is not alone!’”
“Dareen is undergoing a Kafkaesque trial,” said Tatour’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky. “The indictment says ‘The State of Israel against Dareen Tatour.’ It should be Dareen’s indictment against Israeli society, which reads poetry by a poet who says ‘I’m the next victim’ and then persecutes her. This is a society that accuses the victim. A poet must be protected. People shouldn’t go to jail in Israel because of poetry.”
Palestinian rap artist Tamer Nafar performed “Spoken Word,” while poets Tal Nitzan and Mahmoud Abu Arisha recited some of their poems. Actors Doron Tavori and Leora Rivlin read some of Tatour’s trial transcripts. Writer Sheikha Haliwa and poet Rachel Peretz read poems penned by Tatour. Haliwa read them in Arabic and Peretz read their Hebrew translation.
“Tatour may not be a great poet,” said one of the audience members, “but arresting her is a stupid, dangerous act. People’s freedom of expression must not be limited, regardless of their work’s quality or disagreements about it.”
A short film was screened in which Tatour read one of her poems, “Resist, My People, Resist Them,” accompanied by dramatic music and images of riots between soldiers and Palestinians. The audience applauded.
However, one person shouted from the audience, “Shame on you – these are violent images. This is how our children are murdered.” Others booed him and the actors then returned to the stage for another round of reading transcripts from the trial.