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Jewish Fatah delegate nominated to Revolutionary Council

Aug. 8, 2009 3:38 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2009 3:06 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – A Jewish member of Fatah was nominated for a spot on the movement's Revolutionary Council on Saturday.

Vowing to step up lobbying efforts worldwide if elected, Dr Uri Davis told Ma'an one of Fatah's weakest attributes has been its failure to establish ties with international parties, movements and human rights organizations.

In an interview, Davis played down the significance of his nomination to the Revolutionary Council, Fatah's 130-member governing body. Each member of the movement has the right to run for office despite one's religion, race or color, the Fatah delegate noted.

While it is common for Palestinian Christians to support Fatah and hold positions within the organization, Davis would likely be the first Jewish member of its Revolutionary Council if elected. He already serves as a Fatah-affiliated observer member (non-Palestinian) of the Palestinian National Council, to which he was appointed by the late Yasser Arafat in 1984.

Davis was born in Jerusalem in 1943 eight years after his mother and father, Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia and Britain, respectively, arrived in Palestine in 1935. They were an early wave of Zionist immigrants who established homes in the area more than a decade before the state of Israel was founded.

Despite his parents' political leanings, Davis told Ma'an, he has rejected their Zionist ideology. "It violates the Human Rights Convention because it is racism; it legalizes oppression," he said.

"The dangers of occupation and racism stem from attempts to legalize them, as we saw happen in South Africa," he explained.

Davis was recruited to Fatah in the 1980s by Palestine Liberation Organization leader and founder Khalil Al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad, who was assassinated in 1988 by an Israeli commando unit led by current Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Tunisia.

"I wasn't convinced that the Israeli left-wing parties were satisfactory because all of them are Zionist parties," Davis explained. "Thus, I examined Palestinian left-wing parties but discovered that most of them adopted Marxism," such as the secular Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine.

"However I was pro-socialism rather than Marxism, so I joined Fatah because it contained a liberal framework that encompasses contradictory yet harmonious ideologies," he added. "The movement has struggled to liberate land and people from occupation."

In addition to his participation in Palestinian politics, Davis is an academic at the United Kingdom's University of Bradford, serving as a professor of Peace Studies there. The university was among the first in the world to offer such curriculum.

Inside Israel Davis works as a civil rights activist, and describes himself as an "anti-Zionist Palestinian Hebrew." He is a founding member of the Movement Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine (MAIAP) and of Al-Beit, the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Israel.

Davis attended school in Kfar Shmaryahu in Israel, and avoided the country's military draft for Jews by performing civilian service at Kibbutz Erez. He received BA and MA degrees at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as a second MA and PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Today Uri resides with his wife, Mays Abu Ali, in the central West Bank city of Ramallah. The two were wed in 2008, Davis' first marriage to a Muslim. Thrice divorced, his previous marriages were to two Christians and once to a Jewish woman.
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