BORN: August 29, 1922, Haifa, British Mandatory Palestine
DIED: May 2, 1996, Haifa, Israel
IDENTIFICATION: Palestinian journalist, author, and politician best known for his fiction, whose masterful use of ironic humor showcases the contradictions of Palestinian life in Israel, and for his participation in Israeli politics.
SIGNIFICANCE: In his lifetime Imil Habibi was one of a handful of writers who could communicate to a wide audience the ironic position of Palestinian Arabs living in Israel. After 1948, when the Israeli state was established as a democracy, Palestinians found they were denied an equal place in it. Habibi worked to point out and change this situation. His fiction was one part of this effort; others were his journalism, his work to unite Arabs and Jews in the Communist Party of Israel, his tenure in the Israeli Knesset (parliament), and his work with Jewish and Palestinian writers.