Habib was born in 1933 in Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan to Shalom and Simcha. The family made aliyah when he was three. He studied in Talmud Torah Mizrahi and elementary school, completing external matriculation exams. Later he would pursue Asian and political studies at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University.
He started his activity with Lehi at age 14 in the youth division, and his main job was putting up posters and distributing promotional material. While he was doing this, the CID seized him and court-martialed him in September 1947. He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, but because of his youth he was sent to the Tel Monde juvenile facility. After a few months, he escaped, making contact with Lehi and finding refuge with the Yardeni family in Raanana, until the heat died down. After the Partition Plan was announced, he joined the Hagana and fought in its ranks as a communications officer. He was part of the capture of Ein Kerem, and he even wrote about the battle.
In the 1950s and 1960s, alongside his academic studies, he was active in the Mapai and in public life: education, welfare and society. He was a faithful representative of his neighborhood and his fellow Jews from Edot HaMizrach (the communities of the east). In 1969, he was elected to Jerusalem city council, and he served two terms. He founded a group of academics from Edot HaMizrach, his constant goal being to close the gap between various ethnic groups in Israel.
In 1974, he was elected to the Knesset with Mapai (now the Labor Party), and he was active in economically disadvantaged urban communities. In the Knesset, he promoted a number of causes, including the preservation of Edot HaMizrach traditions by including them in the curriculum, rehabbing buildings in dilapidated areas, and establishing an Edot HaMizrach caucus which would include every Knesset member from this community, regardless of party, in order to fight for the community’s interests and advance legislation for this purpose. He was very active on behalf of youth in crisis. After his Knesset service, he was made the director of the Tax Authority in Jerusalem.
Above all, Habib is remembered for his leadership of the Kurdish community in Israel, as he founded, headed and did everything within his power to preserve and honor it. He was the general secretary of the organization for Kurdish Jews in Israel until his dying day, and he edited six volumes of the periodical Hithadshut, which was full of articles about the community’s origins. In 1971, he revived the ancient tradition of Seharane, a post-Passover holiday celebrated by Kurdish Jews.
He passed away of heart disease in 13.7.1994. He left a wife, Shulamit née Cohen, and three sons: Ehud, Yuval and Gil; and two daughters: Yakira and Yifat.