Huwaida Arraf is a first generation Palestinian-American born and raised in Detroit, MI. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan with majors in Political Science, Arabic and Hebrew & Judaic Studies. Huwaida spent her junior year abroad, studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem -- the only Arab on the program. 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.
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 served 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.
In April, 2001 with other Palestinian and international activists, she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), 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. 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 food and water to the people trapped inside the Church. Since August 2001, over 3500 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.
In 2004, Huwaida co-edited "Peace Under Fire" - a collection of personal accounts of ISM volunteers published by Verso Books. She is currently co-editing another book on the Palestinian resistance to be published by The New Press in the Spring of 2007.
Huwaida is currently a third year student pursuing her Master's and law degrees 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 Imagine Life and the steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
In July 2006 Huwaida and her husband Adam Shapiro, a fellow human rights activist, supported the call from over 200 Lebanese civil society organizations for local and international community participation in a campaign of civil resistance to Israel's war against the Lebanese people. The two traveled to Lebanon and helped coordinate civilian relief efforts and accompaniment for returning refugees to South Lebanon.
In August 2008, Huwaida was on the Free Gaza boats that sailed from Cyprus to Gaza, the first boats to challenge Israel's closure of the Strip anddock in Gaza Port in over 40 years. She has since lead 4 other successful solidarity missions to Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement. In February 2009 Huwaida was part of a National Lawyers Guild delegation that traveled to Gaza to document possible Israeli violations of international law and war crimes that may have been committed during Operation Cast Lead.
Civil Resistance in Lebanon
International Solidarity Movement
Palestine and International Law
If you would like to plan a speaking event with Huwaida, please contact her at huwaida.arraf [at] gmail [dot] com or (202) 294-8813.