“A poem stands accused,

my poem morphs into a crime.

In the land of freedom,

the artist’s fate is prison.”

So read the words of a poem written by the young poet Dareen Tatour, who was put in prison under charges of ‘incitement’ in 2015 for a poem that she wrote that was posted on Youtube. She has now been in prison for more than two years, and was supposed to have a court hearing on December 27th, but it was postponed until January.

Dareen’s case has drawn attention from poets and authors worldwide, for the implication it has on free speech. Several petitions submitted to the Israeli government have called for Dareen’s release, but the government continues to delay her trial on ‘incitement’ charges.

“I’ve never seen the prosecution as obstinate as it has been in Dareen’s case,” attorney Abed Fahoum told Electronic Intifada earlier this year. “I believe that they aim to use her to intimidate and silence all Palestinians.”

In April 2016, Dareen’s court hearing was attended by a local blogger, who wrote, “The prosecution started to rest her case by bringing the policemen that translated the ‘Qawem’ poem to Hebrew. The scene was completely surrealistic. Poems, by their very nature, are contradictory to the concept of “proven beyond reasonable doubt” that stands at the heart of the criminal law. The (policeman) witness was struggling with the ambiguities of the poem’s words, supplying his intuitive interpretation to the phrases. We were torn between the urge to laugh loudly and bewilderment at the knowledge that the freedom of our dear Dareen depends on this nonsense….He testified breezily that his competence was based on studying literature at high school and his love for the Arab language. They are confident they can rob Dareen of her freedom according to an interpretation of her poem without even caring to bring a proper translator!”

This is the poem that has led to Dareen’s continued, ongoing imprisonment for more than two years, translated by poet Tariq al Haydar:

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.