Israeli court sentences Arab poet for incitement to violence
JERUSALEM (AP) — The father of an Israeli Arab poet who was sentenced to five months in prison for incitement to violence online said Wednesday that the ruling was unjust.
An Israeli court sentenced Dareen Tatour, 36, a resident of a village near Nazareth in northern Israel, to five months in prison on Tuesday for social media posts she made in 2015 during a wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
“This is not justice,” Tawfiq Tatour told The Associated Press. “We brought the court strong examples of Jews inciting against Arabs on social media, Jews who call for killing and burning Arabs, but the court didn’t accept that. This is blatant discrimination against Arabs.”
He said her poem “was about the settlers who kill and burn Palestinians.”
Dareen Tatour’s case drew international attention after Israeli authorities arrested her in 2015 and put her under extended house arrest for her poems. More than 150 literary figures, including authors Alice Walker and Naomi Klein, called for Tatour’s release. Critics called her arrest a violation of freedom of expression.
In delivering its sentence, the court said Tatour’s poem incited violence and that free expression has limits. Tatour was also convicted of supporting a terror group.
Tatour insisted that her posts were not a call to violence. After Tuesday’s sentencing, Tatour told reporters at the Nazareth courthouse that her case was political.
“I didn’t expect there would be justice in this hearing. From the outset it was a political case only because I am a Palestinian and in favor of freedom of speech,” Tatour said. “I am being jailed only because I am Palestinian.”
Tatour published a series of posts on Facebook and YouTube in 2015 calling upon Palestinians to “resist” during a wave of Palestinian lone wolf attacks on Israelis that left dozens dead.
Israel says the two-year outburst of Palestinian attacks was fueled by incitement to violence spread on social media.
Critics of Tatour’s trial proceedings, such as the Hebrew-language Haaretz newspaper, have pointed out that Jewish authors of social media posts and publications calling for violence against Arabs have not met similar treatment in Israel’s legal system. The paper published an editorial on Wednesday saying Tatour’s sentence was “another drop in the sea of political persecution of opponents of the occupation.”