Poems from an Israeli Prison

by Fouzi El Asmar

“The author [is] a thirty-one-year-old Arab citizen of Israel. He used to write his poems at home in Lydda . . . Now he writes them in Damon Prison . . .
I walked among the inmates and asked for Fouzi. A tall man emerged, strikingly handsome with a captivating smile. Looking more mature than his thirty-one years, Fouzi emitted an aura of confidence, determination, and honesty. I could tell both by looking at him and by the way he behaved with the other inmates, that Fouzi al Asmar is a leader of men . . .
I asked Fouzi why he was detained. He looked me directly in the eye and said, ‘Because I am an Arab.’ But there are 300,000 Arabs, I observed, and only a few handfuls are in prison; why were you singled out? ‘Because I express the feelings of the 300,000 and that makes me dangerous. There are Jews who share my beliefs, maybe even some who express them better. But they are not dangerous because they are Jews, and no Arab will listen to them. That is why I am being detained and not Meir Vilner’ (The Jewish head of Rakah, the Arab Communist Party).
I asked him what the Israeli authorities had accused him of when they detained him thirteen months earlier. He said that they had concocted a story about his being a terrorist organizer. This time I looked into his eyes and asked: ‘Were you a terrorist organizer?’ He smiled: ‘If they could have proved it, they would have brought me to trail.

. . . Meir Shamgar, the Attorney General of Israel denies . . .  that he is being detained because he is an Arab . . . ‘Sure he is a poet, but the cloak of a poet can sometimes conceal deadly bombs.’ “

Alan M. Dershowitz
Professor of Law
Harvard University
– Commentary, December 1970