Trial of poet Dareen Tartour: Grand battle of free speech v. incitement

The case has become a symbol of the fault line battle over incitement, free speech and discrimination between the country’s Jewish majority and its Arab minority.

Gavel [Illustrative] (photo credit: INIMAGE)
Gavel [Illustrative]
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
The defense rested Tuesday in the trial of poet Dareen Tartour in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court, on charges of incitement to perpetrate violence and terror stemming from various online posts, for which she claimed defense on the basis of free speech, mistranslations and persecution of minorities.
Tartour is an Israeli citizen who lives in Reina in the North, but refers to herself as a Palestinian poet.
Around the start of the so-called “Knife Intifada” in October 2015, she wrote posts, which the prosecution said encouraged violence and terrorist acts against Israel. She was indicted on November 2, 2015, and has since spent extensive time in full detention and under house arrest.
The prosecution alleged that she posted images of violence and narrated a call to Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs to undertake a comprehensive intifada and follow the martyrs.
It also noted an “Islamic Jihad newsflash” she posted, calling for an intifada in all of Palestine, including within the Green Line.
The defense’s Arabic literary experts testified that the police’s translator mistranslated to give a violent connotation to what could be a call to nonviolent resistance. They also objected to criminalizing poetry and posts on the basis of free speech protection.
Defense lawyer Nery Ramati asked about enforcement of Israel’s incitement law to try proving it is use disproportionately against Arabs in Israel and Palestinian residents of the West Bank.
On the Internet links presented against Tartour as evidence, activist blogger Yoav Haifawi said the court ruled in favor of defense objections that it could not be proved that content was not edited after they were first presented in court. The next hearing is scheduled for April 27 and the verdict is expected to follow.