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The Quarantined Terror Of Love!

“Resist, my people, resist them.
Resist the settler’s robbery
And follow the caravan of martyrs……”

Dareen Tatour – the Palestinian poet, photographer and social media activist from Reineh, Israel – published this poem, titled ‘Qawem Ya Shaabi Qawemahum‘ (‘Resist my people, resist them’), on YouTube and Facebook in October 2015. Since then, she has been tortured by the all-powerful STATE (read Israel). The Israeli authorities had detained 36-year-old Dareen in October 2015 and put her behind bars almost immediately. Even after her release in 2016, she had to spend four months under house arrest in Tel Aviv without any Internet and telephone connection. She was allowed to spend just two hours (per week) at public places with her relatives, as the Israeli authorities deemed her a “threat to public safety“. In July 2018, an Israeli court sentenced the poet to five months in prison for “inciting terrorism” in the poem she had posted on the social media.
A police officer had translated the poem from Arabic to English and the translated version was submitted to the court as evidence against Dareen during the trial. Prosecutors said that her post was basically a call for violence, adding that she not only encouraged terrorism, but also backed a terror outfit. The indictment clearly stated that the poem’s “content, its exposure and the circumstances of its publication created a real possibility that acts of violence or terrorism will be committed“.

Dareen was also convicted over another post, which (according to prosecutors) expressed support for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US and the UK, and for a new Palestinian intifada against the Israeli occupation. Dareen’s third post was a photo of an Israeli Arab woman, who was shot and wounded by the Israeli police after she brandished a knife. The caption was: “I am the next martyr.
Undoubtedly, the context of the poem is based on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, Dareen claimed that there was no call for violence in her poem, rather it calls for a non-violent struggle. She slammed the Israeli authorities for misinterpreting the poem. Her lawyer Gaby Lasky said it was unfortunate that Dareen was convicted of online incitement of terrorism for her poem. Lasky insisted: “I don’t think that writing a poem, even if it’s against the government, is a crime. It’s regretful that in a country that believes in democracy, will sentence to jail a poet because of a poem that she wrote. The prosecution wanted to send her to jail between 15 and 26 months, (but) the judge decided to send her for five months which is still a long time in prison.

Tatour (R) and her lawyer, Gaby Lasky, in court (Reuters)

Dareen had published one poetry collection – titled ‘The Final Invasion’ – in 2010. Her second collection, ‘The Atlantic Canary Tales’, was due to be published in December 2015, but her arrest prevented that. “I wrote a lot while in prison. The Israeli prosecution tried to press that I provoked the publishing ban when my poem ‘A Poet Behind Bars’ appeared on the International Translation Day in English on Pen International website. I wrote this poem before the ban on November 2, the day I was indicted in Jalameh prison,” she stressed. Her novel – ‘My Dangerous Poem’ – will be released soon and she believes that the book will give clear answers to many questions.
More than 150 writers, including some Americans and Israelis, condemned the prison sentence of the Palestinian poet. Alice Walker, Claudia Rankine, Naomi Klein – the winners of the Pulitzer Prize – strongly criticised Israel for harassing Dareen and other Palestinian writers. Earlier, the Israelis had murdered noted Palestinian authors Ghassan Kanafani, Majed Abu Sharar and Kamal Butros Nasser. Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), widely regarded as the Palestinian national poet, was banned from re-entering Israel and eventually died in Texas, the US. BBC correspondent Yolande Knell said: “It is a matter of freedom of expression…. The situation in the ‘occupied’ West Bank is deteriorating.” For her part, President of PEN International Jennifer Clement said: “Dareen Tatour has been convicted for doing what writers do every day – we use our words to peacefully challenge injustice. PEN will continue to call for justice in this case.

PEN International President Jennifer Clement

Dareen has been accused of encouraging Palestinian rebels to attack the Israelis. However, the poet denied the allegation and claimed that she was tortured and raped repeatedly by the Israelis. In one of her poems, Dareen says: “In my Jerusalem, I dressed my wounds/ And breathed my sorrows to God/ And carried the soul in my palm/ For an Arab Palestine./ I will not succumb to the “peaceful solution”,/ since the poison has spread,/ killing flowers from my home./ Never lower my flags/ Until I evict them from my land.
We can easily see blood (of the martyrs) in Dareen’s poetry. Who are those martyrs? May be… Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was kidnapped and burnt alive by the Israeli settlers on July 2, 2014. May be…. Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, the 18-year-old Palestinian who was shot dead. Or may be the 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh, who was also burnt alive by 21-year-old Jewish settler Amiram Ben-Uliel on January 3, 2016. Dareen considers all of them as martyrs. That’s why she says: “Resist, my people, resist them.

Dareen Tatour at her residence in Reineh

Dareen believes that her trial was politically motivated. “I expected prison and that’s what happened. I didn’t expect justice. The prosecution was political to begin with because I’m a Palestinian, because it’s about free speech and I’m imprisoned because I’m a Palestinian,” she told the Israeli Haaretz daily.
At the same time, the poet expressed hope that “the whole world will hear my story”. Talking to the media, she stressed: “The whole world will hear what Israel’s democracy is….. a democracy for Jews only. Only Arabs go to jail. The court said that I am convicted of terrorism. If that’s my terrorism, I give the world a terrorism of love.
Humanity salutes the imprisoned poet, who wrote: “It is a poem. I am asking whether I would face freedom or prison after the verdict. In the end, I conclude that whatever the decision will be, I will end up free.” (Dareen’s last text, titled ‘The Final Chapter’)

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, 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.

(Translated by Tariq al Haydar)

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