Israel Criminalizes Palestinian Poetry

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Israel Criminalizes Palestinian Poetry

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.orgHome – Stephen Lendman)

Israel operates like all other totalitarian states, wanting the message controlled – especially wanting Palestinians denied speech, media and academic freedoms.

Exercising these fundamental rights freely is criminalized. Even Palestinian poetry is considered a crime when expressing legitimate opposition to occupation harshness.

Arab Israeli poet Dareen Tatour was maliciously mistreated for justifiably criticizing repressive Israeli policies.

In October 2015, she was arrested, detained, then held under house arrest for the “crime” of poetry. Conviction last May followed. 

When charged, Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens are virtually always judged guilty by accusation, due process and judicial fairness denied them.

Falsely charged with “incitement to violence” and “support for a terrorist organization,” Tatour was unjustly sentenced to five months in prison – wanting her passionate voice for justice silenced, her message suppressed.

Responding to the sentence, attorney Gaby Lasky representing Tatour said “(W)riting a poem, even if it’s against the government, isn’t a crime” adding: 

“It’s regretful that a country (calling itself) a democracy will sentence to jail a poet because of a poem that she wrote.” 

“The prosecution wanted to send her to jail from between 15 and 26 months. The judge decided to sentence her to five months which is still a long time in prison” for her right of free expression. 

Her poem titled “Resist, My People, Resist Them” in response to Israel’s brutal murder of three Palestinian children urged nonviolent struggle for freedom.

Following her sentence, she said “I wasn’t expecting justice to be done. The case was political from the start, because I am Palestinian and support freedom of speech.”

Palestinian Policy Network’s Yara Hawari said Tarour’s arrest, conviction and sentence explain how Israeli Arab citizens are treated as harshly as occupied Palestinians, adding:

“The case of Dareen Tatour captures what it means to be Palestinian under the Israeli settler colonial regime – especially the limits on freedom of speech and expression.”

Arab Center for Social Media Advancement director Nadim Nashif stressed that “(a)s a  Palestinian and as a person, (Tatour) has the right to denounce the Israeli occupation.” 

The Netanyahu regime “has been implementing systematic moves since 2016 that included a series of legislations, laws and bills that aim to silence and criminalize activists…”

It “represents another move in the militarization of the Palestinian virtual space, as already seen with the heavy use of surveillance technologies, and lastly, hundreds of cases of interrogations perpetrated in an attempt to terrorize Palestinians from the West Bank, Jerusalem, (and Israeli Arab citizens), preventing them from expressing any criticism towards the policy of occupation.”

Following her conviction in May, Tatour said her unjust trial revealed Israel’s fantasy democracy, adding:

“The whole world will hear my story. The whole world will hear what Israel’s democracy is. A democracy for Jews only. Only Arabs go to jail. The court said I am convicted of terrorism. If that’s my terrorism, I give the world a terrorism of love.”

Haaretz ripped Tatour’s unjust conviction and sentence, saying it proves “Israel has separate laws for Arabs and Jews.” 

Imprisoning her for the crime of poetry may have transformed her “from a marginal figure into a national heroine.”

She’s a symbol of resistance against Israeli tyranny similar to the stature Ahed Tamimi gained through her courageous activism for justice.

Below is the text of her poem in English Israel criminalized:

“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, 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.

They burned blameless children.

As for Hadil, they sniped her in public

Killed her in broad daylight.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist the colonialist’s onslaught.

Pay no mind to his agents among us

Who chain us with the peaceful illusion.

Do not fear doubtful tongues.

The truth in your heart is stronger.

As long as you resist in a land

That has lived through raids and victory.

So Ali called from his grave:

Resist, my rebellious people.

Write me as prose on the agarwood;

My remains have you as a response.

Resist, my people, resist them.

Resist, my people, resist them.”

Israel reviles peace, equity and justice. The only solution for Palestinians is sustained nonviolent resistance against Ziofascist tyranny no one should tolerate.

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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.