This is one of the speakers at The Rachel Corrie Foundation’s 2006 Peace Works Conference.
Huwaida Arraf is a first generation Palestinian-American. The oldest of five children, she was born and raised in Detroit, MI. In 1998, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan with majors in Political Science, Arabic and Hebrew & Judaic Studies. While in college, she co-founded and facilitated an Arab-Jewish dialogue group on campus and participated in numerous other co-existence and conflict resolution programs. Huwaida spent her junior year abroad, studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – the only Arab on the program. After graduation, Huwaida worked to promote the rights of Arab-Americans in her position at the Arab American Institute in Washington, DC. In Spring 2000, Huwaida accepted a job as a Program Coordinator in Jerusalem with Seeds of Peace – an American-based non-profit organization focused on working with youth from regions of conflict, including the Middle East, Cyprus and the Balkans. Huwaida left her job with Seeds of Peace a year later after becoming more involved in active resistance to the Israeli occupation forces and policies. With other Palestinian and international activists, she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in April, 2001.
In April 2002, as Israeli forces continued their siege on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Huwaida led a group of international activists to the Church to deliver bread and food to the people trapped inside the Church. For this humanitarian action, she was arrested by the Israeli Army and forced to leave the country. She returned one month later however and resumed her organizational role with the International Solidarity Movement. Huwaida has been arrested over a dozen times over the past four years by the Israeli military for nonviolent protest in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and international individual activists and grassroots community organizations working to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle for freedom and an end to Israeli occupation. The movement utilizes nonviolent, direct action methods and strategies to confront and challenge the Israeli occupation forces and policies, in working towards its goal of bringing about an end to the brutal and repressive Israeli occupation.
The ISM has led roadblock removals and numerous mass breakings of military curfew, and has often intervened to ensure proper delivery of humanitarian supplies and help sick and wounded people get medical care, including escorting ambulances. Since it’s founding, the ISM has organized 10 large campaigns and dozens of other actions where hundreds of individuals from around the world have come to participate in Palestine. Since August 2001, over 3000 volunteers from over 30 different countries have joined the ISM in Palestine. The Movement was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – in 2003 and 2004. Huwaida spent her time in Palestine working with local Palestinian leaders and groups and training international activists to defy – unarmed and nonviolently – the Israeli Armed forces.
International Solidarity Movement activists have also been documenting and writing about the numerous violations of human rights that they have observed. International ISM volunteers have been serving as eyewitnesses and oftentimes as human shields for innocent Palestinian civilians targeted by the Israeli Army. In 2004, Huwaida co-edited “Peace Under Fire” – a collection of personal accounts of ISM volunteers published by Verso Books.
Huwaida left Palestine in August of 2004 to pursue her Master’s and law degrees and is currently a second year student at American University’s Washington College of Law. Her focus is International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, with a particular interest in war crimes prosecution. She is currently a co-chair of the Students for Justice in Palestine at the Washington College of Law and she serves on the advisory board of KinderUSA and the steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. Huwaida is married to fellow human rights activist, Adam Shapiro.
On the web: