The Red Priest of Haifa: Rafiq Farah (1921–2020)
Rev. Rafiq Farah
Society for the Defense of Arab Minority Rights in Israel
Shafa 'Amr
British Mandate
Emergency Regulations
Martin Buber
oral history
In Remembrance
1921 - 2020

Rafiq Farah, archdeacon of the Anglican Church and the author’s father, chaired the Society for the Defense of Arab Minority Rights in Israel from 1951 to 1965. This article draws on oral history recorded by the author, on personal documents, and on archival material to chronicle the events that led to the Society’s formation, and to examine more closely the effects of the 1948 Nakba on the Palestinian Arab community in Haifa. In August 1949, Rafiq Farah wrote a letter published in the Israeli Communist Party newspaper al-Ittihad in which he proposed the formation of a league for the defense of universal human rights. Martin Buber, a Jewish philosopher, wrote a letter to Farah supporting the idea. The al-Ittihad article acted as a catalyst that provoked debate among Arabs and Jews and that in turn led to the Society’s formation. After its establishment and until 1966, during a period of a “reign of terror” imposed on Palestinian Arabs, the Society waged a courageous legal battle against Israel’s Emergency Regulations, which included fighting against Israeli confiscation of Arab lands and properties; it was no small feat, and their struggles were not always in vain.

Author biography: 

Randa Farah is an anthropologist and associate professor at Western University in Canada. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the Centre for Global Studies, Huron University College.

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