Uri Davis, born to Czech And British Jews in Palestine is now on Palestine’s governing council. Is he a contemporary Yossel Mashel Slovo?
Jeune Afrique’s Nicolas Marmié makes the comparison between Uri Davis, recently elected to Fatah‘s Revolutionary (sic) Council, and the great leader of the South African Communist party Joe Slovo. Of course, the SACP was allied against racial oppression from before Slovo’s joining in the 1940s, and it was 33 years from his co founding of Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961 to the first free elections in 1994. Even if the comparison is apt, Israel has a long way to go. But more than timelines, Davis is trying to cross a divide much deeper than even South African Apartheid. Uri Davis, born in Palestine to parents married in Palestine in 1939, has had to convert to Islam and marry a Muslim woman to really be accepted also shows the gulf between these cultures.
Perhaps the much vilified comparison of political and state Zionism with Apartheid masks the fact that the divisions between the peoples of Israel/Palestine is even deeper than that in South Africa. Religion, language, messianic nationalism, and the constant appeals to competing victimhood make a wound seemingly impossible to heal.
Uri Davis, a self described “Palestinian Hebrew” (prior to his pro-forma conversion a “anti-Zionist Palestinian Jew”) is at least making a start, while most Israelis have spent the last thirty years with their heads in the sand. That won’t stop a return to something that looks more like a pre-Nakba society, but just keeps us stuck in a bloody morass. Davis knows this too well.
The attempts to Bantustanize the West Bank and Gaza Strip occupied in 1967 will fail in Palestine just as it has failed in South Africa. One simply mourns the bloodshed that this entails and the suffering in the first instance inflicted against the indigenous people.[2004 interview]
Like Joe, he’s the face of the future. You can demonize it (like Slovo, universally despised by Apartheid government and media), you can ignore it, you can even slow it to a crawl, but no one can stop it.
- Why Israeli Jew Uri Davis joined Fatah to save Palestine. Peter Beaumont. The Observer, Sunday 23 August 2009.
- The lonely struggle of Uri Davis. Seth Freedman. guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 September 2009
- Slovo: The Unfinished Autobiography of ANC leader Joe Slovo. (1997)
- Against Israeli Apartheid. Desmond Tutu & Ian Urbina. July 15, 2002 edition of The Nation.
- Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. A book by Ben White.