In Israeli Court, the Poet Was Neutralized, So to Speak

In her despair, poet Dareen Tatour revealed a painful truth: If you’re a Palestinian, you have no reason to expect justice from the Israeli judicial system, even if you’re an Israeli citizen.

Arab-Israeli poet Dareen Tatour, 35, laughs during an interview at her house in Reineh, northern Israel September 26, 2017.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

“I didn’t expect justice,” said poet Dareen Tatour yesterday, at the conclusion of the hearing in which the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court sentenced her to five months in prison for incitement to violence and support for a terror organization, due to things she wrote in the social media. In her despair, Tatour revealed a painful truth: If you’re a Palestinian, you have no reason to expect justice from the Israeli judicial system, even if you’re an Israeli citizen.

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What could Tatour expect from a country whose government is presently celebrating the nation-state law, which establishes Jewish supremacy and Arab inferiority, and which is headed by a leader who profits politically from incitement against Arab citizens? “The case is political from the start, because I’m a Palestinian, because it’s about freedom of expression. I’m imprisoned because I’m a Palestinian,” said Tatour, summing up what was self evident. Her sentence is another drop in the ocean of political persecution of opponents of the occupation.

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Tatour, 36, from the community of Reineh near Nazareth, was arrested in October 2015 after posting a poem called “Resist, my people, resist them,” and two other posts, during the period of the stabbing attacks. According to the indictment, she posted on Facebook and YouTube “various posts that include calls to commit acts of violence or terror, and words of encouragement, praise and identification with acts of violence or terror.”

But what is permitted to Jews in Israel is forbidden to Palestinians; the soundtrack of their lives in Israel is interwoven with calls for their death or expulsion. After all, incitement against Palestinians, including outright permission to spill their blood, is a matter of routine in both the physical and virtual Israeli public sphere. Our ears have become accustomed to it, and nobody is prosecuted.

In Tatour’s indictment a translation of her poem appeared, which included the following lines: “I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’ / Never lower my flags / Until I evict them from my land.” Her conviction tells more about Israeli democracy than it does about Tatour’s deeds. Woe to a democracy in which public criticism, as harsh as it may be, against the policy of oppression and occupation that it has been practicing for the past 51 years, criticism expressed by means of a poem by a woman who belongs to the nation that is being oppressed, is considered incitement to terror, whose punishment is imprisonment.

The Israeli government can legislate Jewish supremacy, persecute and silence those who oppose the occupation, who do so using nonviolent means, whether they are Jews or Arabs, but it won’t help: The truth will come to light. Tatour’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, said she intends to appeal the ruling. We can only hope that her appeal will be accepted and Tatour will go free.