Azmi Bishara (b. 1956 in Nazareth), an Israeli Arab politician and academic, earned a doctorate in philosophy from Humboldt University in Berlin in 1986 and for the next ten years was professor of philosophy at Birzeit University; he was also associated with the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem as a senior researcher. Politics, however, occupied him from an early age. In 1974, while still in high school, he established the first National Committee of Arab High School Students; two years later he was instrumental in founding the first National Arab Student Union, which he represented in the Committee for the Defense of Arab Lands when it declared Land Day in 1976.

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