Azmi Bishara

Azmi Bishara


Date of birth = Birth date and age|1956|7|22|df=y
Date of Aliyah =
Date of death =
Knesset(s) = 14th, 15th, 16th,
17th (resigned)
Party = Balad
Former parties =
Gov't roles =

Azmi Bishara ( _ar. عزمي بشارة, _he. עזמי בשארה, born July 22, 1956),- English: Azmi Bishara IPAudio|AzmiBisharaEn.ogg|listen
- Arabic: عزمي بشارة IPAudio|AzmiBisharaAr.ogg|listen
- Hebrew: עזמי בשארה IPAudio|AzmiBisharaHe.ogg|listen
Information from Azmi Bishara Knesset Profile in [ English] , [ Hebrew] and [ Arabic] ] is a Palestinian Christian politician. A member of the Israeli Knesset representing the Balad party from 1996 until resigning in April 2007, Bishara is still the leader of that party. Bishara holds an Israeli citizenship. [ Jerusalem Post piece about Azmi Bishara for the 1999 elections] Accessed March 11 2007]

His resignation took place amidst news of a series of "serious" but "unspecified" criminal charges being laid against him by Israeli security services, [ Ex-MK Bishara suspected of treason, passing data to Hezbollah] Haaretz, Accessed 2 May 2007] which were later revealed to be treason and espionage. [ [,7340,L-3394602,00.html Bishara suspected of aiding Hizbullah for money] Ynetnews, Accessed 3 May 2007] By resigning, Bishara lost his parliamentary immunity and has chosen to remain abroad, though he has indicated that he intends to return. [ [ Police probe Arab Knesset member] Al Jazeera, Accessed 30 April 2007]

Early life

Bishara was born in Nazareth, He went to school in Nazareth Baptist school,Fact|date=April 2007 and established the first National Committee of Arab High School Students and in 1974 was its chairman and in 1976, [ Azmi Bishara - National Democratic Alliance] Haaretz, Accessed March 11 2007.] he was instrumental setting up the Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands, as well as the first National Arab Student Union.

In the 1970s, Bishara attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was the head of the Arab Student Union, and was also active in the Jewish-Arab student group Campus. At the time Bishara was a member of the Israeli Communist Party Rakah (now part of Hadash), and supported an Internationalist-Marxist political agenda.

Upon completing his Ph.D in philosophy at Humboldt University of Berlin in 1986, he joined the faculty of Bir Zeit University, ["1980-1986: جامعة هومبولون برلين. تخرج منها بشهادة دكتوراة في الفلسفة بإمتياز."
"1986-1996: محاضر الفلسفة والدراسات الثقافية، جامعة بير زيت."
"1980-1986: Humboldt University, Berlin. He graduated cum-laude with a Ph.D. in Philosophy."
"1986-1996: Lecturer in Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Bir-Zeyt University."
[ Archived bio of Azmi Bishara (in Arabic) from the official NDA website] Accessed February 24 2007
] and went on to head the Philosophy and Cultural Studies Department for two years, from 1994 to 1996. He has also worked as a senior researcher at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. [ Bishara's English bio at Adalah] ]

Political career

Bishara has been a Knesset member ever since the fourteenth Knesset (first seating June 17 1996) and "was a key founder of the political party that he represents in the Knesset, the National Democratic Assembly (NDA-Balad)." (The NDA is at times misnamed the "National Democratic Alliance".)

Bishara was the first Arab citizen of Israel to run for Prime Minister in the 1999 election, [ [ Profile: Israel's Arab voice] . BBC News, January 9 2003] but dropped out of the race two days before election day. In the end, only Ehud Barak and Benyamin Netanyahu were left as final candidates, with Barak emerging victorious. [ [ Healing a national wound] BBC News, May 21 1999, accessed April 18 2007]

In 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court "overturned Central Elections Committee decisions to disqualify MKs Ahmad Tibi and Azmi Bishara, and Bishara's party, Balad, from running in the elections to the 16th Knesset." The CEC's decision was supported by Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein, "who went so far as to submit his own petition to the CEC against the party and its leader." "The CEC ruled that Bishara and Balad sought to destroy the Jewish character of the state and supported the armed struggle against it." [ [ High Court overturns disqualifications of Tibi, Bishara] Jerusalem Post, Accessed February 24 2007]

Visits to Syria

Bishara visited Syria in 2001, and gave a speech at a memorial ceremony for Syrian President Hafez al-Assad where he expressed support for Hezbollah. Upon his return to Israel, he was indicted and charged with incitement to violence and support for a terrorist organization, as defined by Israel's Prevention of Terror Ordinance. [ [ Israel's Knesset Votes to Revoke Immunity From Popular Palestinian Member of Parliament Azmi bishara] ] Bishara again visited Syria in September 2006, where he warned of the possibility that "Israel launch a preliminary offensive in more than one place, in a bid to overcome the internal crisis in the country and in an attempt to restore its deterrence capability." [ [,7340,L-3301614,00.html MK Bishara warns Syria of Israeli attack] Ynetnews, September 9 2006] He and members of his party also visited Lebanon, where they told the Lebanese prime minister that Hizbullah's resistance to Israel has "lifted the spirit of the Arab people". [ [ Balad MKs praise Hizbullah resistance] Jerusalem Post, September 15 2006] Soon thereafter at Interior Minister Roni "Bar-On's request, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered a criminal investigation be opened against Balad MKs Azmi Bashara, Jamal Zahalka and Wassel Taha over their recent visit to Syria", as " [a] fter Bashara's last trip in 2001, the Knesset passed a law forbidding MKs from visiting any enemy state." [ [ Bar-On wants passports of Arab MKs who visited Syria revoked] Haaretz, September 11 2006]

Resignation from Knesset and Suspicion of High Treason

On April 22, 2007, Bishara resigned from the Knesset via the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, following a police investigation into his foreign contacts, and accusations of aiding the enemy during wartime, passing information on to the enemy and contacts with a foreign agent, as well as laundering money received from foreign sources. [ Balad Chairman Bishara: I cannot receive a fair trial in Israel] Haaretz, Accessed 28 April 2007] He was said to be "considering staying abroad because he feared a long term jail sentence and an end to his political career." [ [ Report: MK Bishara leaves Egypt] Jerusalem Post. Accessed 25 April 2007] He also stated that he believed he wouldn't receive a fair trial.

Following a petition by Haaretz and other media outlets to lift a gag order preventing publicization or publication of information relating to the specific charges being laid against Azmi Bishara, on May 2 2007 the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court announced the gag order would be fully lifted. One week prior, the court had only allowed for the fact that Bishara is suspected of assisting the enemy in wartime, transmitting information to the enemy, contact with a foreign agent and money-laundering to be publicized. [ [ Gag Order on investigation of ex-MK Bishara to be lifted wednesday.] Haaretz May 2 2007]

Bishara is accused of giving Hizbullah information on strategic locations in Israel that should be attacked with rockets during the 2006 Lebanon War, in exchange for huge amounts of money. Wiretaps were authorized by the Israeli High Court of Justice. Investigators say that Bishara recommended long-range rocket attacks which would serve Hizbullah cause. [ [,7340,L-3395153,00.html Bishara recommended that Hizbullah attack south of Haifa] Ynetnews, Accessed 3 May 2007]

According to court documents "Bishara was questioned twice in the case and during the last encounter he told interrogators that he intends to leave Israel for a couple of days. He said he would attend a third questioning session soon upon his return to Israel". [ [,7340,L-3391929,00.html Bishara suspected of aiding enemy during Lebanon war] Ynetnews, Accessed 25 April 2007] [ [ Bishara suspected of aiding enemies during Second Lebanon War] Haaretz, Accessed 25 April 2007] Bishara addressed a rally of supporters in Nazareth via telephone in April 2007. He told the thousands of supporters that, "My guilt is that I love my homeland... our intellect and our words are our weapons. Never in my life did I draw a gun or kill anyone." [ [ Thousands protest in Nazareth in support of former MK Bishara] Haaretz, Accessed 28 April 2007]
Said Nafa, Bishara's replacement in the Knesset, commented on the charges leading up to Bishara's resignation, saying "There were many instances in which the Shin Bet tried to set people up ... They're just trying to behead a prominent Arab leader. They will fail." [ [ Balad's MK-to-be: 'Anti-Israelization' conscientious objector] Haaretz, Accessed 3 May 2007]


*According to The Jerusalem Post " [h] e received a kidney transplant in March 1997 at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem's Ein Kerem", and (in 1999) was "a spokesmen for the National Association of Dialysis Patients in Israel."


*He is the author of books that include: "Min yahudiyat al-dawla hata Sharon" ("From the Jewishness of the State to Sharon") (2005), [ [ At a glance] Al-Ahram Weekly, Accessed 30 April 2007] , "The Ruptured Political Discourse and Other Studies" (Arabic, 1998) and "The Palestinian Intifada and Its Reflections in the Israeli Public Opinion"Fact|date=February 2007
*He also published two novels of a planned trilogy: "The Checkpoint" (2004) (available in French translation, [ [ La Palestine fragmentée] Le Monde Diplomatique, Accessed 30 April 2007] and a Hebrew translation is forthcoming) and "Love in the Shadow Zone" (2005). [ [ Culture 101: A roundup of the month's news in the arts and culture] Egypt Today, Accessed 30 April 2007]
*Bishara has contributed articles to many books that deal with nationalism, Islam, and democracy, the Palestinian issue, and minority rights. [ Publications] Palestine Institute for the Study of Democracy, Accessed 30 April 2007]
*He also edited a series of 15 brochures and schoolbooks for teaching democracy and democratic principles in Arabic.


*On the Democratic Option: Four Critical Studies. Re-published by the Center for Arab Unity Studies, Lebanon, 1993 (with Burhan Ghalioun, George Giacaman, and Said Zeedani)
*Ziad Abu-Amr, with a Critical Commentary by Ali Jarbawi and Azmi Bishara: Civil Society and Democratic Change in Palestinian Society. 1995
*A Critical Perspective on Palestinian Democracy. 1995 (with Musa Budeiri, Jamil Hilal, George Giacaman, and Azmi Bishara)
*A Contribution to the Critique of Civil Society. 1996
*The Ruptured Political Discourse and other Studies. 1998
*The Site of Meaning: Essays from the First Year of the Intifada. 2002
*In the Wake of the Israeli Invasion: Issues of Palestinian National Strategy. 2002.
*Theses on a Deferred Awakening. 2003
*From the Jewishness of the State to Sharon 2005 ISBN 9950-312-16-7
*The Elements of Democracy Series Series Editor: Dr. Azmi Bishara (12 publications from '94 to '99)


*The Arabs in Israel/Azmi Bishara, Moreton-in-Marsh : Arris, 2003
*The Palestinians of Israel/an interview with Azmi Bishara in "The new Intifada:resisting Israel’s apartheid", edited by Roane Carey;introduction by Noam Chomsky, London; New York:Verso, 2001, ISBN 1950943778
*The Palestinian elections:an assessment/‎Azmi Bishara et al.,‪ Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University of Jerusalem,‎‪ 1997 [*&PID=5861&SEQ=20070218054033&CNT=25&HIST=1 "Azmi Bishara" in the Library of Congress Online Catalog] ]

Articles in English (partial list)

* [ Universal instincts; The West, served by Arab "moderates", is attempting to take the Arab world back to the Stone Age] , 5 October 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 815
* [ Ministry of strategic threats; Avigdor Lieberman's arrival in the Israeli cabinet is symptomatic of the degradation of the country's political system] , 1 November 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 818
* [ Realities of death; The value of life has little to do with the value accorded to death and the latter, is determined as much by who did the killing as by the identity of the victim] , 16 November 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 820
* [ A selective memory] , 24 November 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 821
* [ Strong in spite of themselves; Now is the time for America's Arab allies to whisper advice to Washington, thanks to the resistance in Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine] , 8 December 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 823
* [ On sectarian and ethnic sobriquets; However much you re-label the jar, the contents remain the same] , 14 December 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 824
* [ Ways of denial; The Holocaust must be contextualised, and its lessons learned] , 21 December 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 825
* [ End of the neocons; This year marked a major shift in American fortunes; one to which nationalist and leftist Arab political forces much respond in unity] , 28 December 2006, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 826
* [ Return to Arab survival; Over Iraq, Arab states lost their way, putting the survival of the Arab order subservient to external favour, and US-inspired coalitions] , 18 January 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 828
* [ Bigots and history; Neo-cons, orientalists and Zionists gathered recently in Israel to confirm their fantasies about history, people and politics] , 1 February 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly
* [ In place of appeasement; It is not among the duties of resistance movements to court popularity from outside powers] , 15 February 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 832
* [ Olmert: as expected; Israel is demanding the absurd, but the illusion is shattered if Arab states understand that the game of axis politics is not in their interest] , 22 March 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 837
* [ Initiative versus principle; If Israel rejects the best Arab position, perhaps the Arabs should revert to maximal demands and ask Israel to propose a plan] , 29 March 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly
* [ Back to square one; Tempted by the trappings of statehood, Palestinian leaders forgot they had yet to build a state] , 5 April 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 839
* [ Shattered illusions] , 19 April 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 841
* [ Why Israel is after me] , 3 May 2007, Electronic Intifada
* [ A restructured PLO; Without an organisation capable of representing all Palestinians, both in the occupied territories and the diaspora, the future can comprise little beyond internecine conflict] , 21 June 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 850
* [ Empty-hearted secularism; False oppositions and machinations are rife in the Arab world, where secularism has become a corrupted political fashion] , 2 August 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 856
* [ The one clear solution; A workable and just solution in Palestine is predicated on one principle, tested in South Africa: side with racism or be against] , 16 August 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 858
* [ Israeli games again] , 30 August 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 860
* [ Ignorant thieves] , 6 September 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 861
* [ Headlong to more of the same] , 18 October 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 867
* [ US war insanity] , 08 November 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 870
* [ Madrid redux; Bush's peace meeting is nothing but an empty orgy of rhetoric] , 29 November 2007, Al-Ahram Weekly, issue 873


*Die Jerusalem Frage :‎ Israelis und Palaestinenser im Gespraech‎. Teddy Kollek, Hanan Ashrawi, Amos Oz, Faisal Husseini, Ehud Olmert, Albert Aghazarian, Shulamit Aloni, Nazmi al-Jubeh, Meron Benvenisti, Ikrima Sabri, Michel Sabbah/Uri Avnery, Azmi Bishara (Hg.) (Translated from the Arabic, English or Hebrew by various translators), Heidelberg :‎ ‪ Palmyra,‎ ‪ c1996 [ [ "Azmi Bishara" in the catalog of the Jewish National and University Library] ]
*--alles ändert sich die ganze Zeit:soziale Bewegung(en) im "Nahen Osten"/Jörg Später (Hrsg.), mit Beiträgen von Azmi Bishara et al., Freiburg (Breisgau) : Informationszentrum Dritte Welt, 1994


Bishara was awarded the “Ibn Rushd 'Averroes' Prize for Freedom of Thought” for the year 2002 in Berlin, [ [ List of laureates of the Ibn Rushd prize for freedom of thought] The Ibn-Rushd foundation] and the Global Exchange Human Rights Award for the year 2003 in San Francisco. [ [ Global Exchange 3rd Annual Human Rights Awards Ceremony] Global Exchange, May 22 2003]

References and notes

External links

* [ Shin Bet Hounding Leading Israeli Arab into Exile?]
* [,0,2351340.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail "Why Israel is After Me"] Azmi Bishara's defense in May 2007, "ironic twist reminiscent of France's Dreyfus affair".
* [ Balad] , Arabic.
* [] , video interview with Azmi Bishara, 30 mins.
* [ Dr. Azmi Bishara on YouTube] , Arabic.
* [ "War is peace" by Nimer Sultany] , "persecution against Palestinians begins to echo 1984".
* [,,2133184,00.html "Wanted, for crimes against the state" The Guardian ]

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