Palestinian co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, which focuses on grassroots community nonviolent organizing to resist the Israeli occupation. The organization has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Huwaida Arraf is a co-founder of the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which focuses on grassroots community nonviolent organizing to resist the Israeli occupation.
The founders of the ISM believed that bringing international volunteers to support the Palestinians under occupation would reduce the risk of violent repression of Palestinians by the Israeli military. Since its creation in April 2001, some 3,500 activist volunteers from more than 30 different countries have joined the ISM. The organization has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, in 2003 and in 2004.
"The Palestinian Intifada, the ‘uprising for freedom,’ has got to be an international struggle. . .," Arraf says. "[It] is a struggle for freedom, a struggle for basic human dignity and human rights. Anyone who believes in freedom, believes in justice, believes in equality for all people not based on religion or nationality, can join in the struggle."
Arraf works in the occupied Palestinian territories with local leaders and groups, training international activists to face the Israeli military forces unarmed. She has been arrested more than a dozen times for nonviolent protests in the Occupied Territories, including once for delivering food to the people stranded in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, the oldest of five children, Arraf attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she obtained degrees in Arabic, Hebrew, and Judaic Studies, as well as political science. As an undergraduate, Arraf co-founded and facilitated an Arab-Jewish dialogue group on her campus and was active in other conflict resolution and co-existence groups. As a junior, she attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and studied the Hebrew language on a Kibbutz. After graduating, Arraf worked at the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C., promoting the rights of Arab Americans.
In the spring of 2000, Arraf traveled to Jerusalem to serve as program coordinator for Seeds of Peace, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that promotes dialogue and interactions between young people in regions of conflict, in her case, Palestinians and Israelis. While working at Seeds of Peace, Arraf met her husband, Adam Shapiro, another co-founder of the ISM.
In 2004, Arraf co-edited the book Peace Under Fire, a collection of personal accounts by ISM volunteers, and is currently co-editing a book about the Palestinian resistance. She is a law student at the American University’s Washington College of Law, where she is focusing on International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, with a special focus on war crimes prosecution. She also co-chairs the Students for Justice in Palestine at the Washington College of Law, serves on the advisory boards of KinderUSA and Imagine Life, and is a member of the steering committee for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
In 2006, Arraf traveled to Lebanon with her husband to coordinate civilian relief efforts in Lebanon and provide company for refugees returning to the south of Lebanon.
For more information about the International Solidarity Movement see www.palsolidarity.org.
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Kathleen McQuillen on the Federal Budget and Palestine-Israel