The University of Haifa hosted Dareen Tatour, a woman who had been convicted of incitement to violence against Israel and of support for terrorist organizations, to give a talk in its English Literature department on Sunday.
Tatour is a poet who grew up in Reineh, an Arab village in the north near Nazareth. Her poems contain themes of rising up against Israel and incitement to violence. She has also expressed these views outside of her poetry with one example being a Facebook post she made after a stabbing attack where she wrote that she intended on being the next shahid.
One of her poems, "Rise Up, My People and Go With the Shahids" was used in a performance in the Jaffa Theater, which led to the then-finance minister blocking financing for the theater in 2018. She was then imprisoned for six months for her support of terrorism. When she was released, Tatour left Israel.
A brief bio was written in the invitation to the lecture in which Tatour was described to have been born in Palestine despite Reineh being located within Israel's borders. The bio also refers to the Israeli courts as the "Israeli occupation court."
During the lecture, Tatour read out excerpts from her poems that strongly oppose Israel and call out for violence.
"This incident sends a message of support for terrorism in an academic institution that is funded by Israeli taxpayers," said founder of the Choose Life Forum Deborah Gonen. "An academic institution needs to decide its direction. Will they promote terror and encourage murder or will they take a clear stand against any such incident? Any institution that chooses to act against Israel needs to know that its financing will be stopped immediately."
"Any institution that embraces a terrorist in the name of appreciation of their literary work is sinning against the truth," said the Ad Kan organization in a statement. We are calling to the university's management to look into how they can allow such radical people to enter an official event."
"The arrival of a convicted supporter of violence and terror organizations and her representation in an invitation that carries the university's logo that was sent to students is on par with legitimizing the threat to morality," the Im Tirzu Organization wrote in a letter sent to the university.
"In light of this, we expect the university's management to publish an official condemnation of the incident and take a strong stance against future invitations to supporters of terrorism to take part in official events."
"The event was held without the knowledge of the university administration. Its content does not align with our values," said the university's spokesperson in a statement. "Had we known about the event beforehand the University administration would have required amendments. The content of this event belies our moral principles. However, this is the nature of free speech. We uphold this principle even when the content is abhorrent."