The renowned Palestinian-Israeli author Emile Habibi died in Haifa on 2 May at the age of 73. In accordance with his will, his tombstone will bear the phrase ‘Emile Habibi – remained in Haifa.’ Habibi was among thousands of Arabs who remained in Israel while others fled or were forced from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. He wrote seven novels in all, but will be most remembered for Strange Events in the Disappearance of Said Abu al-Nahs al-Mutashael, which describes the dilemmas of an Israeli Arab trying to survive and retain his Arab identity after the founding of the Jewish state in 1948. Habibi provoked strong criticism when he became the first Arab writer to win the prestigious Israel Prize in 1992.

Habibi was a consistent advocate of non-violence as the only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. He was a founding member of the Israeli Communist Party and a member of the Knesset for 19 years.