Davis, Uri

Alternative names
Birth 1943-06-08

Biographical notes:

Uri Davis was born in Jerusalem in 1943 to a British Jewish father and a Czechoslovak Jewish mother, and describes himself as a Palestinian Jew. He was brought up and educated in Kefar Shemaryahu and Tel Aviv, spending some of his compulsory military service as a medic and the remainder of the period in alternative civilian service on Kibbutz Erez (1961-1963). Developing an interest in pacifism and human rights, he became Vice-Chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights in 1969. He graduated with a BA in Philosophy and Arabic from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1968, going on to a Masters in Philosophy at the same institution in 1970. He completed a Masters in Anthropology in 1973 and subsequently also a PhD in Anthropology in 1975, both from the New School for Social Research, New York. His PhD thesis was entitled 'Israel: utopia incorporated - a study in class, state and corporate kin control'.

He subsequently held a range of academic and research positions at British universities and institutions, including the universities of Bradford (School of Peace Studies, 1974-1981), Durham (Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 1981-1982) and Exeter (Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and Department of Politics, 1982-1986), whilst dividing his residence between the UK and Israel. His main research interest is Palestine, with special focus on the structure and history of the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. He has published prolifically on a range of topics, including his autobiography Crossing the Border: an autobiography of an anti-Zionist Palestinian Jew, 1995. He is probably best known for his book Israel: an apartheid state (1987).

In 1986 he resigned as Programme and Research Director of the Palestine Studies Trust (1985-1986) at the University of Exeter in order to take up the Directorship of the Jerusalem and Peace Service consultancy office, London, a position which he held until 1991. Since 1988 he has held and continues to hold honorary research fellowships at the Universities of Exeter and Durham.

He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), is a founding member of the Editorial Board of RETURN magazine ('Against the Israeli Law of Return - For the Palestinian Right to Return'), and was also Director of Ithaca Press, publishers on the Middle East, from 1989-1991. He is also a founder of MAIAP (Movement Against Israeli Apartheid in Palestine), and was its chairperson in 2002. He is also involved with MIFTAH (the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Demoacracy) and Al-Beit (the Association for the Defence of Human Rights in Israel).

Having lived abroad for many years, he returned to Israel in 1992 where he is now actively involved in educational and human rights issues involving Israeli Arabs. His most recent academic project was on the nature of citizenship which resulted in the publication of Citizenship and the state: a comparative study of citizenship laws in Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon (London, 1997), and an edited work Citizenship and the state in the Middle East (Syracuse, New York, 2000).

From the guide to the Uri Davis Collection, c1965-c1990, (University of Exeter)


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  • Arab--Israeli conflict


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  • Middle East Politics and government (as recorded)
  • Palestine Politics and government (as recorded)