Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Azmi Bishara - an unsung Arab-Israeli hero

"..he also edited a series of fifteen brochures and school books for teaching democracy and democratic principles in Arabic."

His life and actions speak for themselves...

[From Wikipedia]
Azmi Bishara (عزمي بشارة) (born July 22, 1956) is an Israeli Arab politician and an elected member of the Knesset. Bishara was born in Nazareth into a Christian Palestinian family, though he is explicitly secular.

He was the first Arab member of the Knesset to run for Prime Minister. He is controversial in Israel because of his support for turning Israel into "a state of all its citizens", as he criticizes Israel's nature as a "Jewish state" and its state ideology of Zionism.

Bishara has been a member of the Knesset since 1996 and is a founding member of the National Democratic Assembly in Israel, also known as Balad, a political entity representing the Arab minority in Israel under the banner of liberal democratic values. Balad and Azmi Bishara believe that equality in Israel rests upon the separation of religion and the state and the transformation of Israel from a "Jewish state" to a state of its citizens. As such, the NDA combines the struggle for national rights and democracy into one political program, supporting both the Israeli Arabs' power to run their own cultural affairs and the desire of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to live in an independent Palestinian state. Azmi Bishara is responsible for many of the major concepts of debate in public and political life of Israel.

Bishara, also considered a public intellectual, publishes writings in Arabic, English, German and Hebrew, on the issues of democracy and civil society, national minority rights in Israel, Islam and democracy, and the Palestinian question both in Israel and outside of it. He is the editor of a book on the philosophy of enlightenment (Hebrew), a book on identity and contruction of identities (Hebrew) and the author of five other books, A Contribution to the Criticism of Civil Society, A Reading in a Ruptured Political Discourse, The Palestinian Intifada and Its Reflections in the Israeli Public Opinion, Theses on a Deferred Awakening, and his last book: From the Jewishness of the State to Sharon. He also published two novels of a planned trilogy: The Checkpoint (2004) (available in French translation and a Hebrew translation is forthcoming) and Love in the Shadow Zone (2005). Bishara has contributed articles to many books that deal with nationalism, Islam and democracy, the Palestinian issue, and minority rights; he also edited a series of fifteen brochures and school books for teaching democracy and democratic principles in Arabic.

Early in 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected five appeals presented by the Attorney General and supported by Israel's right-wing parties that would have prevented Bishara and his party, Balad, from running in the national elections. Bishara ran and won for a third term.

In 1974, Bishara established the first National Committee of High School students, and in 1976, he was instrumental setting up the Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands, as well as the first National Arab Student Union. Upon completing his Ph.D in philosophy at Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany, he joined the faculty of Bir Zeit University in 1986, and went on to head the Philosophy and Political Science departments until 1996. Additionally, Bishara was the director of research at the Van Leer Institute between 1990 and 1996.

Bishara has been awarded the “Ibn Rushd 'Averroes' Prize for Freedom of Thought” for the year 2002 in Berlin, May 14, 2002 and the Global Exchange Human Rights Award for the year 2003 in San Francisco May 22, 2003

One of his articles
Arab Association for Human Rights (Israel)


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