Huwaida Arraf

Palestinian-American human rights attorney and activist; co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement

Huwaida Arraf is a Palestinian-American attorney and human rights activist. She received her Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan, and her Juris Doctor from the American University Washington College of Law, where she focused her studies on international human rights and humanitarian law. Over the past two decades Huwaida has been involved in a number of legal and grassroots initiatives for Palestinian rights. In 2001, she co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led non-violent resistance movement, which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. From 2007-2008, Huwaida helped build the first accredited clinical legal education program in the Arab world, based at Al-Quds University. She was one of the initiators and organizers of the first delegation of lawyers to enter Gaza following Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009), and co-authored the report on their findings, "Onslaught: Israel's Attack on Gaza and the Rule of Law." Huwaida is the former Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, and from August to December 2008, led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip to confront and challenge Israel's illegal blockade on the 2 million Palestinians living there. She was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and was traveling with it when it was lethally attacked by Israeli forces on 31 May 2010.  In 2011, she was one of the six Palestinian Freedom Riders, who, inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides of the 1960s, attempted to ride segregated Israeli settler public transport, for which they were harassed then violently arrested. Huwaida is currently based in Michigan where she practices civil rights law and continues to devote much of her time to activism on Palestine and other human rights and social justice issues. She is the co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee, and sits on a number of organizational boards, including New Generation for Palestine, Eyewitness Palestine and  the Advisory Board of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. In 2020 she served as a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
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A case study: Palestine-Israel and bridging across power differences
Israel-Palestine has long been referred to as the center of the world's most intractable conflict, but is it? The case study of Palestine-Israel human rights organizing allows us to consider real world challenges of bridging: How do you bridge for the greater good when there are serious power imbalances between groups or individuals, or when you're up against overwhelming narratives that promote endless conflict? In the work for structures that include all people, what can you gain and what can you lose by bridging? How do people navigate the messiness of long-bridging, and how do group...