Defying travel ban, Arab Israeli poet visits Beirut

Marwan Makhoul, 35, will likely be questioned by Shin Bet upon his return from enemy state

Arab Israeli poet Marwan Makhoul, 35, strolls through Beirut (screen capture: An-Nahar)
Arab Israeli poet Marwan Makhoul, 35, strolls through Beirut (screen capture: An-Nahar)

An Arab Israeli poet from a northern Israeli town recently traveled to Beirut despite a ban on visiting enemy states, Lebanon’s An-Nahar newspaper reported Saturday.

Marwan Makhoul, 35, is a resident of the Jewish-Arab town of Ma’alot-Tarshiha, located just several kilometers from the Israel-Lebanon border.

“Makhoul has managed to break the enemy blockade and reach Lebanon,” the paper reported. It added that the artist would be reading from his poems during several performances in the Lebanese capital including “a poem he wrote in which he attacks the ‘enemy plot’ to recruit Christian Palestinians.” The paper also posted photos of the poet walking through Beirut.

Security officials meanwhile told Channel 10 News they would not treat Makhoul’s visit to an enemy state lightly, and he was expected to be questioned by the Shin Bet security service upon his return to Israel.

Makhoul entered Lebanon with a Palestinian passport, according to the report. His mother was born in south Lebanon.

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman on Saturday called for Makhoul’s arrest, writing on his Facebook page that Israel “must not accept someone with an Israeli citizenship disregarding the law, visiting an enemy country and then returning to Israel, with all the consequences that may have.”

Last year, an Israeli Arab journalist was arrested and held for several days after visiting Lebanon. Majd Kayyal, a well-known activist and writer, was questioned by the Shin Bet for alleged ties to Hezbollah operatives. The national security agency later dropped the charges.

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