By Dil Bola
By Dil Bola
Rabat – After posting her poetry on social media in 2015, Arab-Israeli poet Dareen Tatour was arrested on grounds of hate speech, initiating an Israeli court case that was finally settled in her conviction and sentencing on Tuesday.
Dareen Tatour, a 36-year-old Palestinian poet and photographer who resides in Reinah, Israel, took to YouTube and Facebook in October of 2016 to release her poem “Qawem Ya Shaabi Qawemahum” or “Resist, My People, Resist.” In the recording of her reading, the poem was used as a soundtrack over footage of Palestinian youths flinging stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers.
In May 2018, Tatour was convicted guilty of incitement to violence online and of supporting the Palestinian militant group aimed at the uprising, ‘Islamic Jihad.’ The final sentencing took place on July 31. Official minutes released by the state’s Justice Ministry declared a five-month imprisonment for the poet coupled with a six-month suspended sentence to her jail time.
Tatour’s reaction was nonchalant as she “…wasn’t expecting justice to be done.” She maintained in her statement to reporters, “The case was political from the start, because I am Palestinian and support freedom of speech.”
‘Resist, My People, Resist’
The most significant lines in Tatour’s poem, as translated by Tariq al Haydar, are:
“Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs.
Shred the disgraceful constitution
Which imposed degradation and humiliation
And deterred us from restoring justice.”
After posting the poem, Tatour took to Facebook once again, this time sharing her views in the form of a news story. Coupled with what Israeli officials claim was a call for “a continuation of the Intifada,” she posted three photos exhibiting Israeli security forces and Jewish extremists killing an Israeli-Arab woman and two Palestinian children. Tatour had added a description in Arabic: “I am the next shahid” (referring to the Arabic word for martyr).
The Israeli interpretation
The publishing of the poem coincided with an outbreak of frequent and fatal attacks by Palestinians on Israelis coined the “Stabbing Intifada.” The string of attacks led the Israeli government to believe online incitement fueled the violence; thus the government launched a legal crackdown.
The number of indictments and prosecutions has tripled since 2014 primarily in charging young Palestinians. Due to the situational context, authorities claimed Tatour’s poem was a call for violence, and she was arrested a few days later.
Tatour vehemently denied the charges, claiming the Israeli authorities were misinterpreting her work as she called for non-violence within the struggle rather than an exacerbation of the existing brutality regardless of which side exhibited it.
The case quickly became notable in the debate of freedom of speech. Advocates both within Israel and abroad began to advocate for Tatour’s rights. Furthermore, the case drew attention, causing the world to question the Israeli government’s use of technology as they search social media for suspicious users inciting violence or attacks on Israel.