Israeli court convicts Arab poet of incitement

File photo showing Palestinian-Israeli poet Dareen Tatour poses for a picture at her house in Reineh, northern Israel, September 26, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 03 May 2018
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Israeli court convicts Arab poet of incitement

  • Palestinian-Israeli poet says her words were misunderstood
  • Israel says some Palestinian militants are inspired online

* Arab-Israeli poet says her words were misunderstood
* Israel says Palestinian attackers are inspired online
* Meaning of word “martyr” disputed in trial testimony

JERUSALEM: Dareen Tatour, 36, posted to Facebook and YouTube a video of herself reading out her poem “Resist, My People, Resist,” accompanying footage of masked Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers.
It was published in October 2015 during a wave of deadly Palestinian street attacks on Israelis. The Israeli-Arab poet was arrested a few days later, and prosecutors said her post was a call for violence.
Tatour, who denied the charges, said her poem was misunderstood by the Israeli authorities. It read: “Resist, my people, resist them /Resist the settlers’ robbery/ And follow the caravan of martyrs.”
She said there was no call for violence in the poem, rather for a struggle, which Israeli authorities had cast as violent.
The Israeli judge convicted her, delivering a 52-page verdict that went into a detailed literary analysis of the text and video, and of the Arabic word “shaheed” — which means “martyr” in English.
Language experts called by the defense as witnesses included a famous Israeli poetry professor and an expert in Arabic-Hebrew translation.
The translator told the court that “shaheed” meant different things to people on different sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The Israeli hears ‘shaheed’ and sees an aggressor. The Palestinian sees a victim. That’s a big difference. One sees an attacker blowing up a bus, the other sees a child shot by soldiers,” the expert, Yonatan Mendel, told the court in March 2017.

ONLINE SURVEILLANCE
Tatour’s case became a cause celebre for freedom of speech advocates in Israel. It drew attention to the advanced technology used by Israeli security agencies to trawl through social media to identify and arrest users suspected of incitement to violence, or of planning attacks.
In her ruling, the Israeli judge came down against the defense’s interpretation of Tatour’s words, pointing to a separate post in which Tatour had used “shaheed” to describe a Palestinian assailant who had stabbed a 15-year-old Israeli.
“The combination leaves no interpretation of the word ‘martyr’ other than a violent interpretation that incites to terrorism, and to follow martyr-attackers,” the verdict said.
Tatour was also charged with supporting a terrorist group. Prosecutors said she had expressed support for the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad’s call for an uprising.
Tatour, who belongs to Israel’s Arab minority, comes from a village near Nazareth in northern Israel. She is expected to appeal the verdict, her lawyer said.
“I am ready for everything and do not regret anything I have done. I have done nothing wrong,” Tatour said at the Nazareth Magistrate’s court.
Israel says the wave of fatal Palestinian stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks that began in 2015 was fueled by online incitement and has launched a legal crackdown to curb it.
Indictments for online incitement have tripled in Israel since 2014. Prosecutions by the Israeli military have also increased in the occupied West Bank — most of those charged are young Palestinians.
The average sentence in incitement cases is nine months, though the maximum term that Tatour could face is five years. The court has not issued a date for her sentencing.


Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

Updated 27 June 2019
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Treasury Secretary: US ‘could not be happier’ with Bahrain outcome

  • Mnuchin confident of raising the first $4 billion soon

MANAMA: Jared Kushner’s “workshop” aimed at securing economic prosperity for Palestine closed with optimistic forecasts from President Donald Trump’s special adviser that it could be the basis for a forthcoming political deal with Israel.

Kushner told journalists at a post-event briefing: “I think that people are all leaving very energized, very pleasantly surprised at how many like-minded people they see. It is a solvable problem economically, and the reason why we thought it was important to lay out the economic vision before we lay out the political vision is because we feel we need people to see what the future can look like.

“The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true. We want to show them that this is the plan, this is what can happen if there is a peace deal.”

The next stage, before a political deal is attempted, will be to get feedback from the event and agree to commitments for the $50 billion package for Palestine and other regional economies.

“I think you need $50 billion to really do this the right way, to get a paradigm shift,” Kushner added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “I could not be happier how this has gone,” adding that he was “highly confident we will soon have the first $4 billion. It’s going to be like a hot initial public offering.”

Most of the attendees at the event in Manama, Bahrain, gave Kushner’s economic proposals a serious hearing and agreed it was a useful exercise. Mohammed Al-Shaikh, Saudi minister of state, said: “Can it be done? Yes it can, because it was done before. In the mid-1990s to about the year 2000 there was a global coordinated effort by the US and other countries. I was at the World Bank at the time. I saw it. If we could do it then with significantly less money we can do it again.”

Others warned, however, that there was still a long way to go on the political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Middle East peace envoy, said a political deal was essential.

“This is an economic plan that, if it is implemented, is going to do enormous good for the Palestinian people. But it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish.

“The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian state in a two state solution,” Blair said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, highlighted the work the fund has done in conflict situations. “We had an exceptional result in Rwanda, and a good economic outcome in Mozambique,” she said. But she contrasted this with disappointing results in other African conflicts.

Lagarde said that the aim of the economic plan should be to create jobs. “The focus should be on job-intensive industries, like agriculture, tourism and infrastructure.”

Willem Buiter, special economic adviser to US banking giant Citi, said there were obstacles to the Kushner plan succeeding. “Necessary conditions for any progress are peace, safety and security. And there must be high-quality governance and the rule of law in Palestine,” he said.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jared Kushner believes the conflict is a ‘solvable problem economically.’

• The senior adviser vows to lay out political plans at the right time.

• Expert urges external funding in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans.

He also suggested external funding should be in the form of grants or equity, rather than loans. “We should not burden a country trying to escape from its past with high debts,” he added.

Some attendees warned of the risks to investor funds in the current political situation in the Middle East. 

But Khalid Al-Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Risk is not new to the region. We’ve tackled it for the past 30 to 40 years, but that has not stopped investment flowing in.

“Investors trade risk for return, and the Middle East has learned to cope with risk and conflict. There are pockets where the risk is high and Palestine is one of them. But I remain positive. The return in the region is higher to compensate for the risk,” he added.

At a session of regional finance ministers, Mohammed Al-Jadaan of Saudi Arabia said: “The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope. There is a way forward, but you need political commitment.”

UAE Finance Minister Obaid Al-Tayer added: “We are decoupling politics from economics. If it’s the only initiative on the table we should all give it a chance.”