Huwaida Arraf

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Huwaida Arraf
Huwaida Arraf a Palestinian American Human Rights Activist.jpg
BornFebruary 1976 (age 47)
EducationUniversity of Michigan (BA)
American University (JD)
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAdam Shapiro

Huwaida Arraf (born February 1976)[1] is a Palestinian American activist and lawyer who co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led organization using non-violent protests and international pressure to support Palestinians.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Arraf was born to two Palestinian Christian parents. Her mother is from the West Bank town of Beit Sahour and her father from Mi'ilya, a local council in Northern Israel. Under Israeli law, she has Israeli citizenship through her father, a Palestinian citizen of Israel. Her parents moved from the West Bank to Detroit, Michigan, Arraf's birthplace, to be able to raise her away from the violence in the West Bank. She and her parents were able to visit Israel every few years until Arraf was ten years old.[3]

Arraf majored in Arabic and Judaic studies and political science at the University of Michigan. She spent a year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and studied Hebrew on a kibbutz.[4] Arraf later earned a Juris Doctor from American University's Washington College of Law. Her focus was on international human rights and humanitarian law, with a particular interest in war crimes prosecution.

As a law student, Arraf conducted research for the Public International Law and Policy Group, which provides pro bono legal assistance to governments involved in conflicts. Arraf also worked with the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the Washington College of Law, where she represented clients before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on issues ranging from indigenous lands rights to cross-border abductions and irregular rendition.[5]


In the spring of 2000, Arraf traveled to Jerusalem to work as program coordinator for Seeds of Peace, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that seeks to foster dialogue between Jewish and Palestinian youth.[6]

In 2001, Arraf worked at the Center for Coexistence in Jerusalem as a regional coordinator.[7]

International Solidarity Movement[edit]

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting what it terms "the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles."[8]

In April, 2001, while living in the occupied Palestinian territories, Arraf founded the ISM with members of two Palestinian foundations, the Holy Land Trust and the Rapprochement Centre, to focus international attention on the oppression of the Palestinians.[9][10]

Since its creation, over 3,000 volunteers from dozens of countries have joined the ISM to monitor human rights abuses in occupied Palestine. In 2003 and 2004, the organization was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.[11]

"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."[11]

Arraf co-authored the book "Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement."[10]

Gaza Freedom Flotilla[edit]

Arraf was the chair of the Free Gaza Movement,[12] the organization behind the Gaza Freedom Flotillas, a series of groups of ships carrying Pro-Palestinian activists that were organized to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. She was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza boats[4] as well as the 2010 flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos on May 31.[13] Using a satellite phone on board, Arraf stated that their plan was to have the boats keep heading toward Gaza "until they either disable our boats or jump on board."[13]

At the time of the raid, Arraf was aboard the Challenger 1,[13] one of the smallest boats (30 feet) of the flotilla. On Thursday, 3 June 2010, she provided her version of the events on Challenger 1 in an interview on Democracy Now.[14]

Arraf resigned from this position in October 2012 after a new board was approved on September 17, 2012,.[15] Her resignation came shortly before a controversy over an allegedly anti-Semitic tweet posted by Greta Berlin on the official Twitter feed of the Free Gaza Movement. Arraf called Berlin's tweet "offensive" but declined to answer a question put to her by Avi Mayer, a staffer at the Jewish Agency for Israel, about whether her departure was related to it.[16]

2022 congressional campaign[edit]

In November 2021, Arraf declared her candidacy for Michigan's 10th congressional district in the 2022 election.[17][18]

Arraf placed fourth in a five-way Democratic primary held in August 2022, losing the nomination to Carl Marlinga.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Arraf married Adam Shapiro, another ISM co-founder, in 2002. They met while both were working at the Jerusalem center of Seeds of Peace.[20]


  1. ^ Guardian Staff (2003-05-31). "A love under fire". the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  2. ^ "Humanity Has No Nationality – هويدا عراف". International Solidarity Movement. 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  3. ^ "Women Rising X: International Changemakers - Human Rights Advocates". Making Contact Radio. 2006-12-20. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  4. ^ a b Huwaida Arraf Archived 2009-01-16 at the Wayback Machine, Biography at Global Exchange.
  5. ^ "Al-Quds University - Staff". Retrieved 26 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Huwaida Arraf biography at American Friends Service Committee.
  7. ^ The Olive Branch, Winter 2001 Archived 2010-06-13 at the Wayback Machine and The Olive Branch, Spring 2001 Archived 2010-06-13 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Huwaida Arraf". International Solidarity Movement. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  9. ^ Seitz, Charmaine (2003-07-01). "ISM At the Crossroads: the Evolution of the International Solidarity Movement". Journal of Palestine Studies. 32 (4): 50–67. doi:10.1525/jps.2003.32.4.50. ISSN 0377-919X.
  10. ^ a b Bevan, Brock L. (2006-09-22). "Peace under Fire: Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement". Middle East Policy. 13 (3): 150–155.
  11. ^ a b "Huwaida Arraf". American Friends Service Committee. 2010-03-30. Retrieved 2020-12-08.
  12. ^ Siegel, Robert (1 June 2010). "'Freedom Flotilla' Protesters Vowed Not To Use Violence, Organizer Tells NPR". NPR News. Direct link to audio file
  13. ^ a b c Kershner, Isabel (30 May 2010). "Israel Intercepts Gaza Flotilla; Violence Reported". New York Times. Jerusalem. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  14. ^ hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (3 June 2010). "Flotilla Passengers Huwaida Arraf of Free Gaza Movement and Retired Army Col. Ann Wright Respond to Israeli Claims on Deadly Assault". Democracy Now!. 9:57 minutes in. Transcript.
  15. ^ "Announcing Free Gaza Ii".
  16. ^ Free Gaza co-founder tweets antisemitic message
  17. ^ Creenan, Robert (2021-11-25). "Human rights activist running for Thumb's Congressional seat". Huron Daily Tribune. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  18. ^ "Palestinian-American activist and attorney Huwaida Arraf runs for Congress". Mondoweiss. 2022-01-26. Retrieved 2022-02-01.
  19. ^ "Michigan 10th Congressional District Primary Election Results". The New York Times. 2022-08-03. Retrieved 2022-08-19.
  20. ^ Blincoe, Nicholas (31 May 2003). "A Love Under Fire". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 10 June 2010.