Palestinian Poet Jailed for ‘Incitement’


I am younger than all of them.
Yet, by my griefs, I am older than the days—
a chill has fostered me, and taught me
of people’s cunning.
Treachery both orphaned and undressed me—
and my eyes were buried in agony

–Dareen Tatour

[ Ed. note – Dareen Tatour is a Palestinian poet who was arrested 7 months ago and charged with “incitement.” She is presently, by court order, in home detention and forced to wear an electronic cuff around her ankle, and it looks like she will remain interned in this manner for some time to come.

Below you will find an article about a court hearing on her case held Sunday in Nazareth–a hearing in which Tatour’s supporters were blocked from entering–and beneath that a translation of one of her poems into English, followed finally by a Haaretz article published a day ago. You can also go here to visit a Free Dareen Tatour Facebook page that has been set up.

Actually, I would say Israel has good reason to be worried about her. This lady is a talented poet. She may well be the next Mahmoud Darwish of Palestine. Perhaps the Huffington Post might publish an article explaining how artists and poets can get arrested and thrown in jail in the only democracy in the Middle East. I’m just kidding. I really don’t expect Huffington Post to do that.

Finally, it is of course worth commenting upon that Israeli Jews delight in the freedom to go marching down public streets chanting “death to Arabs,” or to stand in public holding signs aloft reading “kill them all”–and many in fact do such things without the slightest worry of being charged with “incitement.” ]


Nazareth vigil supporting poet Dareen Tatour and the court hides behind closed doors

By Free Haifa

It is almost 7 months since Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet from Al-Reineh (near Nazareth), fell into the black hole of persecution by Israel’s oppression apparatus. The case was rarely noticed before the first hearing of the court on April 13 (see reports in Arabic and Hebrew), when it was published that the main accusation against her is posting a poem on youtube and Facebook calling for resistance to the occupation. Apparently Israel expects all Palestinian poets to devote their poems to pour praise and show love for their torturers.

The new “Free Dareen Tatour” Facebook page called for a vigil in front of the Nazareth court before the second hearing of the prosecution witnesses today, May 8 2016. By 12:00, the designated time, there was already a dedicated group of activists waiting in the sun in front of the court building. They received gleefully Dareen that had to travel a hundred kilometers from her exile and home-detention in a suburb of Tel Aviv. Many of the activists (and some of her family members) didn’t see Dareen since her detention, and it was a very warm meeting.

There were signs in Arabic, Hebrew and English, all calling for the freedom of Dareen Tatour, freedom to Palestinian arts, free speech and freedom to the people. People kept coming and we kept writing new signs to let them all show their solidarity. Many Palestinian journalists and a team from Haaretz were busy taking photos and making interviews, as can be seem from the multitude of news items about the event that were published today.

Finally a group of high-school students that came to visit the court as part of their “citizenship” class joined the demonstration. They were taking pictures of themselves, proving in practice that this time they really learned something about democracy and freedom of expression and the need to struggle for them.

At 13:15 we packed the vigil and some 50 of Dareen’s supporters entered the court’s building in order to attend the hearing, filling all the waiting halls in the second floor. We had to wait more than an hour before the previous (closed) hearing finished. But as we gathered to enter the courtroom we were blocked by the guards. They announced that the hearing will be held behind closed doors.

With no legal grounds, Judge Adi Bambiliya decided that it will be more pleasant and efficient to shut out Dareen’s family and supporters, including Knesset members Haneen Zoabi and Basel Ghattas. After some time Dareen’s father, alone, was allowed in. Only at 16:55, after almost all the supporting public went away in despair, the ten of us that still hanged around were allowed in.

All that the court achieved today was hearing one more policeman witness for the prosecution, named Salman ‘Amer. He is the guy that inspected Dareen’s smartphone and computer. From his words in court he seems not to be much of a computer expert, just like the policemen translator of Dareen’s poem, who witnessed in the previous hearing, had no qualifications in poetry or translation.

What we did learn about was the police’s racist viewpoint that stands behind the whole persecution of Dareen, like thousands of more Palestinians:

  • The witness mentioned many times that he had found in Dareen’s smartphone and computer “a picture of the ‘Mekhabelet’ from Afula”. ‘Mekhabel’ is a special Hebrew word for Palestinian resistance fighters, designated to de-humanize them. But Israa Abed, the women that was shot in Afula central station, was harmless and defenseless. Luckily she survived her cold-blood shooting – and was not accused by the Israeli police of any security offences.
  • One special ‘accusation’ against Dareen, coming up in Amer’s written testimony, was that she read a poem in “Woman’s Day” in Nazareth. My feminist friends commented that educated women are really a great danger to the regime.
  • Another proof of Dareen’s criminality, according to Amer, was that she participated in commemorating the Kafr Qasim massacre. On October 29, 1956, the Israeli army declared a curfew in Kafr Qasim near Tel Aviv, and killed 49 innocent Palestinians, mostly coming back from their fields or work and not knowing that they are in breach of the army’s orders. To the question of Abed Fahoum, the defense lawyer, what is wrong about commemorating this massacre Amer replied that it is “politics” and “goes against state security”!

Before we dispersed the judge tried to convince the parties to negotiate an agreed settlement. She told the defense lawyer that he should forget about abolishing the indictment. But she also pressed the prosecution to notice that they have some deep flaws in their case. The super-motivated prosecution lawyer, Elina Hardak, who doesn’t spare any effort to make life harder for Dareen, said that she can’t give ground. She claimed that the State Prosecutor and the Attorney General stand behind the case.

The hearing finished at 18:00. There are 5 more witnesses for the prosecution, and the next hearing was set for July 17, at 16:00. Another hearing was set for September 6. By this schedule Dareen will be denied her basic freedoms for more than a year before her case will be decided.


How Old Am I Now?

By Dareen Tatour | translated by Ahmed Zahran

Out of the darkness of my night–out of my prison
out of my anger erupting like a volcano
out of my hollow life—out of my tears
out of my day drenched in sadness
I have come to you, my fate!
With perplexed diamond tears
to register you, my birthdate,
to ask: How old am I now?

I am younger than all of them.
Yet, by my griefs, I am older than the days—
a chill has fostered me, and taught me
of people’s cunning.
Treachery both orphaned and undressed me—
and my eyes were buried in agony.

Since I came to the world,
need has shaped my image.
These toys of mine are remnants of a missile
and, when I am hungry, my food is fasting.
At last I’ve come to know that I have nothing
but tears and heaps of peace. 

Ahmed Aly Zahran is a teaching assistant at Menoufia University. He completed his M.A. in comparative literature with a thesis titled: “Color-Struggle in the Poetry of Amiri Baraka and Mohammed El-Faytouri: a Comparative Postcolonial Study.” He looks forward to writing his PhD and is also a poet searching for a publisher for his first collection.


Arab Poet Can See Neither Rhyme Nor Reason for Her Indictment


As Dareen Tatour wandered around the Nazareth courthouse on Sunday, no one there – including the security guards and police officers – would have considered her a threat. Wearing a shirt more appropriate for a teenage girl, Tatour walked excitedly around with friends and acquaintances, all of whom had come to support her.

No one could have imagined that this smiling woman had been deemed dangerous by the state, and that the only difference between her and the other people was the electronic leg cuff around her ankle.

Tatour, 35, is from the village of Reine, near Nazareth. Seven months ago, she was indicted for incitement to violence and supporting a terrorist organization. The prosecution asked the court to remand her until the end of legal proceedings against her, saying her charge sheet showed how dangerous she is.

She spent three months behind bars and was eventually released after a long legal battle, but with restrictions: For example, she was placed under house arrest in an apartment her brother rented for her in Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv.

Tatour smiles and says that if she really is such a danger, why was she allowed to go to Kiryat Ono?

On October 11, 2016, a week or so after the latest wave of violence broke out in the West Bank and Jerusalem, police came to her parents’ home in Reine and arrested her without any explanation. She was taken to the local police station in Nazareth for questioning.

“At the beginning, they called me things like a terrorist, and I didn’t understand what all the hubbub was about,” she recalls. “I also didn’t think I would be detained – I thought it would be a matter of a few hours and then I’d return home.”

Some three weeks after her arrest, though, she was indicted due to postings on Facebook and YouTube. She posted a number of videos on the latter, including reciting poems (in Arabic) she had written. The prosecution said the poems called for committing acts of violence and terrorism, as well as encouraging, praising and identifying with violent acts and terrorism.

The indictment quoted one of her poems, titled “Resist, My People, Resist Them”:

“Resist, my people, resist them. In Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds and breathed my sorrows / And carried the soul in my palm.
“For an Arab Palestine, I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’ / Never lower my flags / Until I evict them from my land / I cast them aside for a coming time …
“Resist the colonialist’s onslaught / Pay no mind to his agents among us / Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.”

In a Facebook post, alongside a photograph of a woman from Nazareth who was shot in Afula bus station while waving a knife, Tatour wrote, “I am the next shahid [martyr].”

On Sunday, some 30 people gathered outside the Nazareth court to show their support, including the three Knesset members from the Balad party (part of the Joint Arab List faction).

Tatour doesn’t deny writing the posts and poems, but denies that she intended to incite violence.

“I wrote in a very difficult atmosphere – mostly after the murder of the Dawabsheh family [in July 2015] and Mohammed Abu Khdeir [the Palestinian youth murdered by Jewish extremists in July 2014], and I asked who will be the next shahid, who else would pay with their life? I have written poems from a very young age, and in 2010 published a book. I never imagined that poetry and writing would lead to my arrest and such serious charges,” she said.

Tatour’s case was postponed until September. Until then, she will remain under house arrest in Kiryat Ono.

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