DR Uri Davis cannot avoid being an Israeli because he was born of an Israeli father, but the unique Palestinian is in a big quarrel with the government of his mother country of Israel because of its forceful occupation of the land of Palestine and brutal treatment of the Palestinian people.
Born in Jerusalem in 1943, Dr Davis would be expected to be a truly patriotic Israeli ready to defend the Zionist government at all costs. On the contrary, Dr Davis is diametrically opposed to the Zionist state’s policy of illegal occupation of the Palestine land.
He assumes an anti-Zionist stance with an equally fiery posture that makes him take sides against his Jewish brothers and sisters in the Middle East struggle for the emancipation of Palestine that he was elected to the Revolutionary Council of Fatah in 31st place from a field of 600.
Fatah was formerly known as Palestinians National Liberation Movement. It is a Palestinian nationalist political party and the largest faction of the confederated multi-party Palestinian Organisation (PLO). Generally, Fatah is considered to have had a strong involvement in the revolutionary struggle in the past and has maintained a number of militant groups.
It had been closely identified with the leadership of founder Yasser Arafat until his death in 2004. Presently Dr Davis is Vice-Chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights (ILHCR). As a lecturer in Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, Dr Davis has attracted many denunciations from his Israeli government by his joining the Palestinian organisation.
He has been called ‘traitor’, scum anti- the State of Israel. I met Dr Uri Davis last Tuesday at Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Masaki, Dar es Salaam in the evening. As a member of ILHCR, he was in the country in what he said was a campaign to prevent African nations from attending a Zionist sponsored meeting in Lome, the capital of Togo.
Israel, he said, which is an oppressive regime committing atrocities against humanities in Palestine, would be trying to portray itself as a humanitarian state sponsoring peace in the Middle East, which is wrong.
That meeting is unlikely to take place. “The meeting basically is to gain the support of African states,” he told Reporter at Large. Dr Davis is the first Israeli Jewish member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah talks about a unique political journey to visit Tanzania recently.
He has been as much shaped by the tidal forces of recent Jewish history – not least his own family’s sufferings in the Holocaust – as any fellow citizen of Israel.
But he disputes a largely manufactured account of that experience that he believes has been used deliberately to camouflage its “apartheid programme”. Dr Davis considers the state of Israel as an apartheid regime.
It is sur prising it is considered the only democratic nation in the Middle East while it occupies the land of Palestine as the longest occupied land in modern history, and rules the people of Palestine with shocking brutality, he says.
Dr Davis explains that apartheid of the Israeli state differs from South Africa’s apartheid from the way the two regimes have structured their apartheid systems. “The South Africa’s segregated its two communities of the black and the white by separating the areas they were each allowed to visit or live in. Blacks were not allowed to be at some beaches reserved for the white and so on and so forth.
Moreover, the whites and blacks would not stand in the same queue for anything,” he explains. Dr Davis adds that in Israeli queues carry all people, Jews and non-Jews. Buses are also for all.
Nobody is forbidden to go anywhere or to board separate buses on account of the colour of their skin. But the ‘settler regime’ constructs residences for Jews only in the land of occupied Palestine. Palestinians must have a permit to work in some parts of their land.
And so, on the surface, Israel appears not to be an oppressive regime of apartheid, but a democratic state. The son of an Israeli father who is a British Jew and Czech mother, Dr Davis says he is not anti-Jews, but denounces the Zionist’s use of violence against an un-armed people fighting for their liberation.
He says: “I am an anti-militarist and recognise the right to use force in certain instances, in armed resistance, which is legal in international law. It allows armed resistance, the targeting of the opposite party in uniform.”
Dr Davis wants Israel to treat people of Palestine with love and respect and love and handle the question of land with serious and honest discussions. Israelis, in his view, ought to learn from the Holocausts and assume a kind, not vengeful stance, towards others.
He says: ““An important part of the education that I received from my parents, was never to generalise. To beware of every sentence that begins with ‘all’. It was not ‘all’ Germans who killed my mother’s family. It was some Nazis.”
Another distinction was emphasised by his mother. “If she heard the suggestion of vengeance, she would be horrified. She sought justice. One of the biggest problems addressing a Zionist audience is that the distinction between justice and vengeance has collapsed.”
Dr Davis says, given the military power of Israel, a nuclear state, people of Palestine know they cannot defeat the Zionist state in a military confrontation, but both sides must accept the truth that they both belong to the Middle East and can have and indeed deserve states of their own that can exist side by side.
Such a situation, he says, can only come to reality from peaceful discussions. Davis has written a series of books and articles that classify the State of Israel as an apartheid state, alleging that Israel’s policies towards Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel, are comparable to South Africa’s apartheid policies:
Israel: An Apartheid State (1987), Apartheid Israel: A Critical Reading of the Draft Permanent Agreement, known as the “Geneva Accords” (2003), and Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within (2003) Now Dr Davis enjoys an extraordinary mandate to explain his own views.
And he hopes, too, that just as the small number of white members of the ANC widened its legitimacy during the apartheid era in South Africa, other Jews too can be attracted to participate in Fatah, transforming it into a broader-based movement that stands for equal rights for both Arabs and Jews in a federated state.
In his opinion African states should not allow themselves to be manipulated by Israel to withohold their support for the course of Palestinian liberation.
The Middle East decades old fight between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East has always falsely been taken as a brawl from religious difference. It is not. There are Christian Israelis and Muslim Israelis.
Palestinian Israeli, Uri Davis has cleared the air and stated, perhaps for those who already knew, and for the knowledge of those who did not know, that the Palestine fight is a struggle about land. Israel occupies falsely and forcefully the land of Palestine.
That suppressive occupation is what Palestinians are resisting and will go on fighting till they are free in what is known as Free Palestine.