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Huwaida Arraf

Palestinian American activist & lawyer

Huwaida Arraf 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.

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 Palestine/Israel every few years until Arraf was ten years old.

Arraf triple majored in Arabic, 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. 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.