Arab Israeli poet partially acquitted of incitement

Lawyer calls quashing of charge for poem by Dareen Tatour a ‘victory for freedom of expression’; two convictions for social media posts upheld

Arab Israeli poet Dareen Tatour (right) and lawyer Gabi Lasky at the Nazareth District Court, May 16, 2019. (Facebook)
Arab Israeli poet Dareen Tatour (right) and lawyer Gabi Lasky at the Nazareth District Court, May 16, 2019. (Facebook)

Arab Israeli poet Dareen Tatour won a partial acquittal Thursday, when a court accepted her claim that a poem she had written did not constitute incitement, but left in place two other convictions for postings she had made on social media.

The three-judge panel of the Nazareth District Court reversed the 2018 conviction for Tatour’s poem “Resist, my people, resist them.”

“It is a victory for the freedom of artistic creativity and democracy and a stop sign for the government that persecutes, censors and silences artists and artists who do not think like them,” Tatour’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, posted on her Facebook page.

Tartour, 37, from the village of Reinah near Nazareth, was arrested in October 2015 and convicted in May 2018 for incitement to violence and for support of a terrorist organization after posting material on social media. She served a five-month prison sentence and was released last September.

Arab Israeli poet Dareen Tatour (left) and her lawyer Gaby Lasky right) at the Nazareth District Court, May 16, 2019. (Facebook)

The poem includes such lines as, “I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution,’ Never lower my flags, Until I evict them from my land,” and “Resist the settler’s robbery, And follow the caravan of martyrs.”

Tatour’s poem and postings were made during a wave of attacks by Palestinians, primarily stabbings, that broke out in 2015 and during which social media emerged as a platform for Palestinian calls for violence.

“It is difficult to see this wording as a direct call to commit an act of violence,” the judges wrote in their decision on the poem, while rejecting Tatour’s appeal on her convictions for two social media postings.

The judges noted that the texts did not explicitly call for violence, but were presented in many cases alongside pictures and videos of riots against Israeli security forces, including on Tatour’s YouTube channel.

During her trial, prosecutors had claimed the prevailing atmosphere in the country at the time of Tatour’s postings on Facebook and YouTube after the outbreak of the so-called knife intifada was one of incitement.

The original indictment cited three other Facebook posts, including one that referred to an attempted stabbing attack in the Afula bus station. In that post, Tartour affirmed, “I am the next martyr.”

Lasky on Thursday criticized Culture Minister Miri Regev, who had used Tatour’s poetry as an example in her calls to revoke state funding to “seditious art.”

“I hope she understands that her job is to help creators and artists and not put them behind bars,” Lasky said, adding that she wanted Regev to learn the appeal verdict “by heart, so maybe she will know what democracy is,” the left-wing news site Local Call reported.

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