Paul Larudee

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Paul Larudee
Paul Larudee (2010).jpg
Paul Larudee

(1946-04-25) April 25, 1946 (age 74)
EducationGeorgetown University (BA)
Piano technician
Years active1987–present
Spouse(s)Betty Larudee

Paul Larudee (born April 25, 1946) is an Iranian-born American political activist who is a major figure in the pro-Palestinian movement. Based in the San Francisco Bay area,[2] he is involved with the International Solidarity Movement and was a founder of the Free Gaza Movement and the Free Palestine Movement.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Larudee was born in Iran[1] to an Iranian Presbyterian minister and his American missionary spouse in 1946 and grew up in the American Midwest.[4]

He attended Georgetown University from 1970 to 1973[5] and received a Ph.D. in linguistics.[6] He also graduated from the Niles Bryant School of Piano Technology in 1990.[2]


Larudee spent 14 years in Arab countries, supervising a Ford Foundation project in Lebanon, working as a Fulbright-Hays lecturer in Lebanon, and a United States government adviser to Saudi Arabia.[6][7]

Larudee has worked in the U.S. and abroad as a piano technician. He is certified as a Registered Piano Technician by the Piano Technicians Guild and has conducted training classes for the Guild and in overseas programs. He is the inventor of the patented Lo-Torq tuning pin, which is used for piano rebuilding. He has also compiled an English-Spanish glossary of piano terminology.[2]

He now runs the company Sharpe & Flatte Piano Service in El Cerrito, California.[2]


Larudee supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and opposes Jewish emigration to Israel. He has accused Israel of carrying out "pogroms" and committing "genocide" against Palestinians.[8] He believes that Israel "confiscates" Palestinian land and turns Palestinian cities into "concentration camps." He has also expressed sympathy for Palestinians who turn to terrorism.[9] He defines "Palestine" as "Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem."[4] He believes that the Palestinian issue is the "root" of many problems in the wider Middle East and even in the United States.[10]

At a 2009 fundraiser for Gaza, Larudee said that "Palestine will be freed in our lifetime" and that "We are all Palestinians ... What happened to Palestinians can happen to everyone."[11]

Appearing on Iranian Press TV in December 2012, he said:

"Israel has never really cared about international law unless it is enforced in some meaningful way; for example all it takes is for the United States to threaten to cutback aid and all of a sudden Israel changes its actions completely."

He criticized the U.S., saying that it in other parts of the world the United States' reaction to deplorable actions "is very strong" while "when Israel does the same things, there is this hypocritical action of doing nothing or even worse supporting and providing billions of dollars a year." Asked about Israeli security, he replied that "Israel is one of the most powerful nations on the planet, its military security is not in question, so why are we so concerned about this? How about a little concern for reciprocal matters and standards such as the security of the Palestinians?"[12] In response to the notion that Israel has a natural right to sovereignty and existence, Larudee has responded "I am sorry but there is no nation on earth that has the right to exist and this was articulated by Thomas Jefferson.... nations have risen and fallen and disappeared from the earth and will appear on the earth according to the necessity and requirements of their population. No nation on the earth has the right to exist, let us get rid of this myth."[8] Larudee has blamed U.S. aid to Israel for exacerbating Palestinian suffering.[12] He supports lawfare.[13] Larudee has said of Palestinian acts of violence against Israel:

"I do not see wild-eyed religious fanaticism as the reason for the attacks. I see instead a resilient people without other means of resistance, pushed to desperation by the increasing pressures of ethnic cleansing, while their cries for help are ignored. Is there a proud people anywhere that might not be driven to such measures to defend themselves?"[14]

Elsewhere, he has stated that he is opposed to suicide bombing.[15]


International Solidarity Movement[edit]

Larudee is an active member and local leader of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in which capacity he has acted as a human shield in the West Bank. He has also written training materials for new ISM members. He has been described as the head of ISM's northern California chapter.

Beit Jala incident[edit]

Larudee was one of about 100 individuals who visited refugee camps in the vicinity of Bethlehem and Nablus between March 29 and April 13, 2002, to protest and, in his words, to "check on the see how they were". Larudee claimed to have been shot at and wounded at a camp in Beit Jala on April 1. In a CNN interview, he said that before visiting the families he and his colleagues had to ask the IDF forces at the camps for permission. "But their reaction was to simply fire at us". After the CNN interviewer noted that a report stated the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers had "fired at your feet," Larudee acknowledged that the IDF had not fired at their bodies. He claimed, however, that shots had bounced off the stone walls and caused "several head injuries" in his group.[16] In a June 2002 interview, he admitted that it was "possible in some cases I was protecting the wrong people".[15]

Eviction in Contra Costa County[edit]

On March 17, 2011, Larudee was lawfully evicted by the Contra Costa County Sheriffs Department. During the eviction, he was warned that he would be arrested if he refused to cooperate. He refused, and was carried to a transportation vehicle. Larudee later described this as "torture".[17]

Free Gaza Movement[edit]

Larudee is a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) (along with Greta Berlin, Mary Hughes Thompson, Sharyn Lock and Renee Bowyer), which was formed in fall 2006 to challenge the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Its first attempt to break the Israeli blockade took place in August 2008. FGM has asserted that its activities fall under the banner of "civil resistance" and "direct action" against Israel's "brutal siege" and its "collective punishment" of Gazans. FGM has conducted eight separate trips to Gaza, between August 2008 and July 2009.[18] Larudee was one of the passengers on the Free Gaza Movement's first trip, on August 23–29, 2008. Fellow passengers included ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf.[4]

The Free Gaza Movement was given funds by the Turkish IHH for its 2010 flotilla, which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists and one American/Turkish activist on the MV Mavi Marmara during the Gaza flotilla raid. In 2008, Israel designated the IHH as a terror group, accusing it of funneling support to Hamas and other terrorist groups. A 2006 online blog report linked IHH to fundraising for jihadis headed to Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan. In a Seattle trial, IHH was described as playing a major role in the Al Qaeda Millennium bomb plot targeting Los Angeles International Airport.[19] It has turned out that none of the accusations were verified, and IHH is one of the very few UN MGOs affiliated with the UN. That IHH was banned in Germany later turned out to be a mixup between the Turkish İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri and the banned German Internationale Humanitäre Hilfsorganisation e.V.. The U.S. government said it "cannot validate" any relationship or connection between İHH and al-Qaida

Gaza Freedom Flotilla[edit]

Larudee was a member of the U.S. delegation aboard the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010.[7] Larudee was on board the ship Sfendoni when the raid took place. He later said that he and his collaborators "locked arms to prevent the Israelis from coming in but they used electric tasers, stun grenades, and batons and they smashed the windows of the wheelhouse and then they tied us. When it got light, they had removed all the handcuffs. I spoke to some of my Greek friends and got an OK to jump into water. So I made sure that everybody could see me, because I wanted lots of witnesses, and when the Israeli started coming closer to me, I jumped. My goal was to delay the Israelis and spoil their plans, and encourage the others on the ship to resist".[20]

Larudee jumped into the water, later explaining that "I chose to resist by jumping overboard from the Sfendoni soon after we were captured, far out at sea. I took the calculated risk that Israel would find it hard to explain its failure to rescue me, and that the act might disrupt their operations to at least some extent".[21] He also said later that "the Israeli military had to send out an extra boat and fish me out of the sea. Consider it the last form of protest we could resort to".[1]

After this, according to Larudee, the IDF subjected him to "multiple beatings in two days of captivity in Israel". He wrote that he "continued to protest by refusing to speak or walk, forcing my captors to carry me. Pain was used to force me to comply, and of course, when pain didn't work, they applied more pain, with the same result".[21] In an interview he said that "I forced them to carry me everywhere. I wouldn't open my mouth for most of the time. They were very rough with me. They put my arm behind my back and twisted my joints. This was basically torture. I screamed, but I also told them that you can tear my arm out and it's not going to make me walk. So they ended up carrying me".[20] All Israeli government officials and members of the military were exonerated by an internal inquiry into these events.[22]

Although Larudee said he practiced nonviolence during this entire episode, he said that "it's not necessarily for everyone" and expressed his admiration for those on the Mavi Marmara, another boat in the flotilla, who resisted the IDF violently. He also maintained that all of the flotilla's participants were unarmed.[21]

Gene St. Onge, who took part in the 2010 flotilla, later said that in response to the IDF's orders, Larudee had "resisted at every point. If they told Paul to sit, he'd stand. If they told him to stand, he'd sit". It was when soldiers started paying attention to another passenger, St. Onge continued, that Larudee jumped overboard.[23]

Larudee organized the 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla under the auspices of the Free Palestine Movement, but Greek authorities refused to let the ships leave port. According to Larudee, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned the 2011 flotilla organizers against "creating a situation in which the Israelis have a right to defend themselves".[24]

Free Palestine Movement[edit]

Larudee is a co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement, which achieved official recognition by the United Nations in 2011.[3]

Global March to Jerusalem[edit]

Larudee was one of the organizers of the Global March to Jerusalem. He and the other organizers, Feroze Mithiborwala and Ali Mallah, wrote at the Huffington Post in March 2012 that "Israel is justifiably concerned about being treated as an international pariah" because "Israel has, in effect, put all its eggs in the American basket. American power is what allows Israel to receive deferential treatment in most European countries....Without U.S. diplomatic intervention, advocacy and arm-twisting, it is doubtful that any country in the world would defend Israel's policies". They added that the Greek government had "humiliated itself by preventing a peaceful flotilla of boats from leaving its shores for Gaza in 2011, for the sake of relations with Israel". And they concluded that the Global March to Jerusalem was "merely the latest and possibly the largest and most diverse expression" of swelling worldwide anti-Israeli sentiment.[25]

Problems with FBI[edit]

Larudee has said that "In Paris or wherever I have a stopover, FBI agents usually approach me, asking where I've been and what I've been up to. I answer none of their questions expect [sic] those already answered in my passport". He says that FBI agents visited him twice. "They asked me six questions; I remember the first one: 'Is it true that you wrote on your website that you had been training volunteers?' But they didn't even name the website".[1]

Deported from Israel[edit]

Larudee was arrested in and deported from Israel in 2006. Larudee was accused by Israeli authorities of being engaged in "anti-Israeli" activities that included meetings with Hamas a group accused by the United States of being a terrorism. Larudee had been photographed with Hamas leaders when he received an award after the first Gaza flotillas. He was traveling this time under the false identity Paul Wilder because he had been banned from the country before due to his association with Palestinian terrorist groups according to Lee Kaplan. Lee Kaplan from alerted the Israeli security before his trip. LaRudee tried to remain in Israel in a case that went to Israel's Supreme Court but Larudee claimed he was deported due to Kaplan's articles about him. "This is something small I can do to make life under occupation just a little more bearable for people, so I do it," he said. But when he disembarked from his plane, Israeli authorities put him in a holding cell. When they ordered him back onto the plane to be deported, he refused to go and instead contacted an Israeli leftist human-rights attorney.[26]

Deportation from India[edit]

Larudee was taken into custody in December 2012 in Tirur in the Malappuram district of India, where he had spoken at a Student Islamic Organisation conference. Charged with "violating visa norms," he was issued a "quit India" notice, which required that he "leave India as early as possible". He was then blacklisted by police in Kerala, which means that he cannot enter India again.[27]

According to one report, Larudee was taken into custody and was sent back due to his violation of the visa condition that tourists are not allowed to deliver speeches to the public.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Larudee lives with his Lebanese wife, Betty, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are both Christians. They met in the 1970s at the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia, where he was working at the time. "I would like to live in Lebanon," he said in 2012, "but my wife likes to live in America. She says she would not mind to move here, but does not want to leave her children," who at the time were 39 and 34 years old.[1]

Larudee is fluent in French, German, and Arabic.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kevorkova, Nadezhda (Apr 5, 2012). "The Quiet American". RT.
  2. ^ a b c d "About Paul Larudee". Sharpe and Flatte.
  3. ^ a b "Endorsers of Free Palestine Movement". Free Palestine Movement.
  4. ^ a b c "Paul Larudee, PhD - USA". Free Gaza. Archived from the original on 2010-05-22.
  5. ^ "Paul Larudee". LinkedIn.
  6. ^ a b "Paul Larudee". Palestine: Information with Provenance.
  7. ^ a b "2011 Gaza Freedom Flotilla Delegation". Free Palestine Movement.
  8. ^ a b Larudee, Paul (Jul 11, 2012). "Uniting the Global Movement for Palestine". The Palestine Chronicle.
  9. ^ Larudee, Paul (Mar 24, 2002). "Letters to the Editor". The New York Times.
  10. ^ "ISNA Conference Again Features Conspiracy Theories". Investigative Project on Terrorism. ISNA. Jul 6, 2009.
  11. ^ Ghazali, Abdus. "Americans are losing civil rights because Palestinians are losing rights under Israeli occupation: Dr. Paul Larudee". UMA.
  12. ^ a b "US blind aid to Israel hurting Washington security: Paul Larudee". Press TV. December 21, 2012.
  13. ^ "US activists tells Lebanese TV of new plans to break Gaza blockade". BBC: Monitoring Middle East. Jun 16, 2010.
  14. ^ Larudee, Paul (Sep 14, 2002). "Sleeping in the bed of a suicide bomber". Gush Shalom.
  15. ^ a b Simerman, Johm (Jun 3, 2002). "A day in the life of a human shield; Paul Larudee is among a growing number of international sympathizers to wade into the Mideast conflict". Contra Costa Times.
  16. ^ "American Discusses Living Through Israeli Bombing". CNN. Apr 1, 2002.
  17. ^ Taylor, John (Apr 1, 2011). "Larudee has only himself to blame". Contra Costa Times.
  18. ^ "Index of Boat Trip Passenger-lists". Free Gaza.
  19. ^ Athanasiadis, Iason (Jun 1, 2010). "Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?". Christian Science Monitor.
  20. ^ a b "US activists tells Lebanese TV of new plans to break Gaza blockade". BBC: Monitoring Middle-East. June 16, 2010.
  21. ^ a b c Larudee, Paul (Jun 10, 2010). "The Price of Defying Israel". Huffington Post.
  22. ^ Birnbaum, Ben (Jan 24, 2011). "Flotilla report clears Israel; new blockade break planned". Washington Times.
  23. ^ Berton, Justin (Jun 4, 2010). "Flotilla detainee痴 harrowing experience". San Francisco Chronicle.
  24. ^ Larudee, Paul (Jul 8, 2011). "Oakland Tribune My Word: Defending Israel from threat of nonviolence". Contra Costa Times.
  25. ^ Larudee, Paul (Mar 27, 2012). "Does the Global March to Jerusalem Delegitimize Israel? Not at All". Huffington Post.
  26. ^ Egash, Ruth; Yaakov, katz (Jun 6, 2006). "Top ISM leader denied entry into Israel". Jerusalem Post.
  27. ^ Nijish, T.P. (Dec 31, 2012). "Kerala cops blacklist pro-Palestine activist". Times of India.
  28. ^ "Pro-Palestinian campaigner from US sent back". Business Standard. Dec 30, 2012.

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