Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf are a married couple whose joint mission in life is to destroy the homeland for Jews in the State of Israel. They promote a form of non-violence that is intended to complement the violence perpetuated by terrorist groups against the Jewish people. They do this through two groups in which they are active: the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and the Free Gaza Movement.
Adam Shapiro calls himself a human rights activist and documentary filmmaker. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York by Jewish parents, who were themselves involved with leftist causes and have been unstinting in their support for his activities. "My parents felt a general affinity for Israel, although they never went there. When I engaged with the issue, it wasn't a major trauma for them to find out what the situation was really like. They genuinely want to see an end to the violence for everyone."
Where Adam disagrees with his family, and the majority of world Jewry, is in his view of Judaism."I don't identify as Jewish. I see it as a religion rather than an ethnicity and, as I have no religious feelings, I don't regard myself as Jewish. I know many other people have a different understanding. I am the only one in my family who sees it that way."
"I think there's an incorrect supposition that someone who is Jewish necessarily has to stand with Israel. My philosophy is that we're all human beings, and I don't buy into ethnicity and sectarianism. I do what I think is right, and there are plenty of Israelis out there standing with me. Allowing the Palestinians to live in freedom is good for Israel and good for the Jews."
He became famous for visiting and acting as a human shield for Yasser Arafat in his Mukataa (government palace) in Ramallah while it was besieged during the March 2002 Israeli military operation in the West Bank and Gaza. This occurred in the aftermath of a Palestinian massacre of 30 Israelis - some of them Holocaust survivors - at a Passover Seder shortly after the Intifada was launched.
Shapiro received his B.A. in political science and history from Washington University in St. Louis in 1993. He subsequently spent a year studying Arabic in Yemen after receiving his M.A. in Arab studies at Georgetown University. He received his M.A. in political science from New York University. He is currently is a doctoral candidate in International Relations at American University. With his shaved head, bandanna-scarf babushka, and hoop earring, he’s a hip dude.
Shapiro has a strong affinity with extremists in Afghanistan, asserting that the Taliban was unfairly displaced. “It seems to me that Palestine has become Afghanistan XP (as in expropriated),” he complained in the January 29, 2002 edition of The Jordan Times. “Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the rightful and legitimate Palestinian leadership has been stripped of its standing in the international community and has been deemed irrelevant by its opponent.”
On a subsequent trip to Israel in August of 2002, Shapiro was arrested, jailed, and ordered deported after he and others chained themselves to a checkpoint. He was detained as he tried to escort Palestinians from their village, Hawara, to the town of Nablus, a few miles to the north, to protest road closings, he said.
In 2004 Shapiro was part of a collective that released About Baghdad, the first documentary after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It features the return to Baghdad of the poet Sinan Antoon. In 2006 Shapiro, with Aisha Bain and Jen Marlowe, released Darfur Diaries. They explored the history of the conflict in Darfur and interviewed refugees and displaced persons, particularly victimized women and children. Shapiro's documentary, Chronicles of the Refugee came out in 2008. It is a six-part documentary series about the experiences of Palestinian refugees worldwide. Shapiro conducted over 250 interviews in 18 countries.
Seeds of Peace
Shapiro’s interest in the Palestinian cause started with his involvement with "Seeds of Peace," a U.S.-based nonprofit organization seeking to foster dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian youth. He worked for the foundation in New York from1997, was a counselor at the Seeds of Peace camp in Maine, and when a youth centre, Center for Coexistence, was established in Jerusalem in 1999, he took the job of co-director.
Shapiro met Huwaida Arraf at Seeds of Peace in Jerusalem, where he was Arraf’s boss. Arraf began work there in the spring of 2000 as a program coordinator.
While still working for the NGO, Arraf got involved in various demonstrations organized by Israelis and foreigners in the West Bank. "But, because I couldn't be linked to the NGO, I had to promise to keep my name out of the press and my ass out of jail." I wore sunglasses and held a sign in front of my face," she explains with a smile. But, her face was noticed - and she got arrested.
Seeds of Peace also required Shapiro to keep out of politics, so in the beginning his role in ISM was, he says, "logistic". "I typed press releases and I helped with funding." Fundraising? He laughs. "No. From my own pocket. I was the only one with a job."
Arraf resigned from her job and decided to devote her time solely to individual actions with Palestinians until the idea arose to create the ISM. Shapiro joined her to work full-time for the ISM. It was June 2001, Shapiro says, when he asked her to marry him.
They got engaged in a short ceremony at the church. The priest said a couple of prayers and blessed the rings. Shapiro had been told to agree to get married in a church and he said, “It's not a problem.”
Huwaida Arraf was born in Roseville, Michigan . Her father, a devout Catholic, is an Israeli citizen from the northern village of Ma'aliya (after which the town of Ma'alot was named). He married her mother, a nurse from Beit Sahur near Bethlehem, and immigrated to the U.S. in 1975 when they were in their 20s, and despite family entreaties, they have not wanted to return. He found work at General Motors.
Arraf has US citizenship, and under Israeli law, she also has Israeli citizenship through her father, an Israeli-Arab. She attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and as an undergraduate, she was active in anti-Israel politics.
"In the beginning of `96, I knew I wanted to build the future of Palestine. So she spent her junior year abroad studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem to get a better understanding of Israeli society and working and studying Hebrew for two months on a kibbutz. She completed a major in political science, Hebrew, and Judaic and Arabic studies in 1998.
After graduating, Arraf worked at the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C., promoting the rights of Arab Americans.
From 2004 – 2007, she studied at the American University Washington College of Law, from which she received a Law Juris Doctor, focusing her studies 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.
From 2007 – 2008 Arraf taught in a human rights law clinic at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, the first legal clinic in the Arab World.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM)
Huwaida co-founded the The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in 2001, while living in Jerusalem. Her three partners were: Ghassan Andoni, a Palestinian activist; Neta Golan, an Israeli-Canadian activist; and George N. Rishmawi, a Palestinian activist. Adam Shapiro joined the organization shortly after it was founded.
The type and scope of ISM's actions vary. ISM activists frequently serve as human shields for armed Palestinian terrorists; many act as couriers for terrorists, smuggling explosives and bomb-making materials into Israel for the PLO. ISM chooses to ignore historical context in order to undermine Jewish legitimacy. The ISM is silent on Palestinian terror attacks, and the deliberately targeting of Israeli civilians, calling ‘martyrs’ those killed in suicide missions and thereby tacitly endorsing these crimes against humanity.
The ISM was established during the Second Intifada which began in late September 2000 and ended roughly around 2005. The intifada was a high-intensity campaign of terrorism conducted against Israeli military and civilian targets inside Israel and in the area of the Palestinian Authority, utilizing tactics such as ambushes, sniper attacks, car bombings, and drive-by shootings.
What was seen as an effective Palestinian tactic was suicide bombing. Most suicide bombing attacks targeted civilians, and took place at crowded places in Israeli cities, such as public transport, restaurants, and markets.
At one point, members of the ISM divided themselves up among Palestinian homes in Beit Jala, just outside of Jerusalem, to act as human shields against shelling by Israeli tanks that were firing at Arab snipers who had been firing at civilians in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.
They also organized massive two-week actions, in August and December 2001. Activists were recruited from abroad to help dismantle dirt roadblocks, observe soldiers' behavior at IDF checkpoints, and to demonstrate in front of army tanks.
Adam Shapiro and the PFLP started the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the United States as part of the International Solidarity Movement. The ISM in the US, at Arraf’s estimation, is one-quarter Jewish. Jewish volunteers on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank estimate that it may be as much as a third Jewish, a figure recently confirmed by journalists.
Arraf was one of the ISM participants who slipped past Israeli security forces into Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity in May of 2002 to bring supplies to, and act as human shields for, Palestinian terrorists who were holding the clergy and staff as hostages inside.
"We had tried to get into the basilica before, but this time the coordination was better," Arraf says. In mobile phone conversations, the men inside the church agreed to remove their internal barricades and open the door as the ISM arrived. The action was a huge morale-boost for the men, who were hungry and often felt they had been forgotten.
In March 2003, senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested with two Kalashnikov rifles while he was hiding in ISM’s Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists. Sukiya was involved in several thwarted suicide attacks, including a planned suicide bus bombing in northern Israel in September 2002, another suicide attack in October 2002, and a planned suicide attack with an explosive suitcase in February 2003.
In April, 2003, ISM, brought two Pakistani British Muslim terrorists into Gaza from Jordan under the guise of a fake travel and tours company. The men, Asif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif, spent the night with ISM and the next day at ISM’s Gaza office. Then, they blew up Mike’s Bar in Tel Aviv. Three Israelis were murdered and fifty were wounded in the attack.
An official Israeli report showed how the terrorists covered their tracks “by forging links with foreign left wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).” Some sources believe that their martyrdom videos may have been shot by ISM or at ISM’s offices.
The organization was thrust into the limelight after an American citizen, ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie, was killed on March 16, 2003 while attempting to intervene in the demolition of a Palestinian home by a bulldozer in Gaza. In addition, a British citizen, Tom Hurndall, a young photographer, was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip on 11 April 11, 2003 by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper. Hurndall was left in a coma and died nine months later. Brian Avery, another ISM volunteer, lost half his face after being sprayed with shrapnel from a heavy machine gun fired at his feet.
Functioning as a spokeswoman for the ISM, Arraf clears most ISM communications personally through the organization's media office; she frequently leads demonstrations in the West Bank and addresses anti-Israel audiences in the United States.
She wrote the ISM training manual to recruit anarchists worldwide to go to Israel and interfere with the IDF. At the ISM, she has participated in the training of thousands of volunteers from around the world. She went to Durban. She organized corporate style conferences at major universities. She flew from the US to EU to Israel and back, toured the US and Canada continuously.
On another occasion, she held a seminar on how people could use the Israel Birthright program under false pretenses in order to procure free airplane tickets to Israel, where they could work with the ISM.
In 2004, Arraf co-edited the book “Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine, and the International Solidarity Movement,” a collection of personal accounts by ISM volunteers, and is co-editing a book about the Palestinian resistance.
In 2006, Arraf traveled to Lebanon with her husband to coordinate civilian relief efforts in Lebanon and provide company for refugees returning to the south of Lebanon. The visit took place after the Second Lebanon War which started when terrorists from the group Hezbollah fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an ambush of two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence that left three soldiers dead and two additional soldiers taken to Lebanon.
Since September 2008, Arraf has been employed as legal consultant by the F.G. Human Rights Project, Ltd. This project is another name for the Free Gaza Movement, in which she serves as the chairperson, an organization established to challenge the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by sailing ships to Gaza.
Since August 2008, she has led 5 sea voyages to the Gaza Strip. She was aboard the 2008 Free Gaza boats as well as the 2010 six-ship flotilla that was raided by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010. The "Blue Marmara Ship,” was boarded and during the clash, nine activists died and 10 Israeli commandos were seriously wounded. At the time of the raid, Arraf was aboard the Challenger 1, one of the smallest ships (30 feet) of the flotilla.
Most recently, the ISM was behind the failed July 2011 “Flytilla,” an effort to fly several hundred high-profile militant activists into the West Bank.
For a video of Huwaida Arraf debating Israeli spokesman Ranaan Gissin on August 24, 2008, press here.
The ISM Strategy of non-violence to complement violence
The Palestinian/Arab strategy to end the existence of the Jewish State of Israel has been primarily one of violence. Based on the belief that Jews are not indigenous to the region, and Jews value life more than death, it is just a matter of putting pressure on them through terrorism for them to eventually run back to the Western and East European countries from where they came. In any case, it is clear from the Koran that the Jews are arrogant but they are also cowards.
From the point-of-view of the Arab world, the strategy of violence has been successful. The Jews withdrew from the Sinai after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. They retreated from the cities of Samaria and Judea when terrorism led to the Oslo agreement in 1993. They unilaterally left Lebanon on May 25, 2000 after attacks by Hezbollah, and they unilaterally left Gaza and four settlements in Northern Samaria in August 2005 after their exposure to attacks. It would seem to be just a matter of time that Israel will no longer exist.
Adam Shapiro and Huwaida Arraf, while agreeing that there is no place for a homeland for the Jewish People, and support a strategy of violence, they have also called for a strategy of non-violence to complement the strategy of violence. The use of nonviolence can be employed to attain specific, pre-determined goals.
They claim that there has been no successful nonviolent movement without a concurrent violent movement. They give the examples of India militants who attacked British outposts and interests while Gandhi conducted his campaign, while the Black Panther Movement and its earlier incarnations existed side-by-side with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
Non-violence, however, must be directed at obtaining some “right.” Palestinian Birzeit University students who march through a militarily-occupied area under curfew on their way to school, who confront soldiers and absorb their teargas, sound grenades and rubber bullets, are attempting to exercise their right to education and to move freely. While they may not succeed, their effort is one aimed at directly achieving rights. The students, acting together in a disciplined manner, are directly acting in a way to achieve their rights.
What is needed is nonviolent direct action against the occupation. This includes roadblock removal, boycotts, refusing to obey curfew orders, blocking roads, refusing to show ID cards or even burning them.
Shapiro and Arraf accept that Palestinians have a right to resist with arms, as they are an occupied people upon whom force and violence is being used. The Geneva Conventions accept that armed resistance is legitimate for an occupied people, and there is no doubt that this right cannot be denied.
The choice of using nonviolence would not be effective if it was not organized strategically. Large-scale, mass popular participation must be developed in order for a movement to have an effect.
What can this strategy hope to achieve as its goals?
First, such a movement would encourage all elements of the society to participate and join in the struggle and would establish or enhance unity.
Secondly, the adoption of nonviolent direct action resistance would change the image of the Palestinian struggle around the world.
And this takes us to the third benefit, which is that in changing the image, more foreigners would be emboldened and empowered to speak out and question their governments' policies vis-à-vis supporting Israel.
Additionally, more foreign civilians would be encouraged to come to work with Palestinians in their legitimate struggle against occupation and injustice, thereby internationalizing the Intifada and bringing more resources to bear on pressuring Israel and the international community to establish a just peace.
When asked what would be her "utopian" vision of a nonviolent direct action, Arraf describes an enormous march: "Every city, every village, man woman and child, sheep and donkeys, if you want," she says laughing, all come "out of their homes, walking together, arm in arm, past soldiers, past roadblocks. A march for liberation. Marching, ignoring and overcoming armed soldiers at roadblocks, with the power of the people and your beliefs in your rights ... exercising your right to walk in freedom on your land and not stop at a checkpoint."
Lee Kaplan describes the inner workings of the International Solidarity Movement
Lee Kaplan, spent eight years of his life as a journalist in the United States and abroad to learn more about the ISM. He went through ISM training orientations and has their training manuals. At their orientation sessions in the US and UK, we were instructed that our purpose was to harass the IDF in any way possible in order to frustrate their anti-terror operations. If we encountered armed terrorists while in the West Bank or Gaza, we were told, simply say hello to them and move on, as they were keenly aware that we were there to assist them.
Adam Shapiro personally told me there are plain-clothed Palestinian handlers at every ISM demonstration that direct the activities. These supervisors direct attacks against the separation fence that is being built to keep suicide bombers and armed terrorists from infiltrating into Israel. One of the handlers leading the attacks on the security fence is a veteran of the Marxist terrorist group PLFP named Hisham Jam Joun.
Lisa Nessan, one of those ISM trainers, told me at an ISM Georgetown conference that standing as a human shield in front of an armed terrorist as he threw rocks or shot at an Israeli soldier was indeed considered “nonviolent.”
In the last three years the ISM has developed an extensive presence in the United States, while operating under several organizational names to avoid unwanted scrutiny of its operations. One of these entities, Al Awda (the Return in Arabic), is also known as the Palestine Right to Return to Return Coalition (PRRC). There are Al Awda chapters all over the United States, particularly in the vicinities of U.S. college campuses.
Other ISM groups under the name SUSTAIN (Stop U.S. Taxpayer Assistance to Israel Now) operate in Los Angeles and New York. In New Jersey, the ISM supporters call themselves Palsolidarity. When they hold events in the U.S. and Canada they call themselves the Palestine Solidarity Movement.
The party line, however, is always the same. The right of so-called Palestinian refugees to return to Israel is “unconditional” and Israel itself must become “Palestine.”
I signed up for the ISM training session in 2004, after seeing their Internet announcement calling for volunteers for their campaign, which they called “Freedom Summer 2004,” after the nonviolent campaign of the civil rights movement in the American south in the 1960’s.
I was advised if I wanted to train with the ISM I needed to attend an orientation lecture at The New College of San Francisco. The lecture was a two hour diatribe, reviewing the history of the Middle East. It was pathologically anti-Israel
On the Saturday morning, June 12, 2004, I arrived for my actual training. The session was held at 2263 Mission Street in San Francisco, a ratty storefront theater in a rundown area of the city that had a folding grid gate barring the entrance from the public.
About ten of us showed up, counting both volunteers and trainers. Before we were allowed to enter the storefront, however, we had to go through a simulated interrogation by an “Israeli border guard.”
Now that we had entered “Israel,” we formed a circle and had a discussion of the “border checkpoint” we’d just been through. I was told I did the right thing to get past the guard by lying that I had not realized Ghannam was an Arabic name and making up the hotel, since I would be actually staying with Palestinians.
Jamie, who was a social worker for the city of San Francisco, then handed out ISM training manuals, big thick white notebooks containing eight sections, a text designed for would be infiltrators and subversives. They contained valuable information on how to disrupt the Israeli law enforcement and defense officials as effectively as possible.
“Don’t say to the border guard you are there to help the Palestinians!” Jamie interjected. “The goal is to have the Israeli guards think you are a tourist.
Once the introductions were complete, Jamie shared with us the experiences and methods used by previous ISM volunteers to fool the Israeli border police. “Make a reservation in a hotel in Israel even if you don’t use it.” “Bring guidebooks for Israel that look dog eared.”
She continued, “If you use the name of someone in Israel as being the reason for your visit, they will call that person. Make certain you have a story thought out who that person is.” If that person were an Israeli leftist, the task was a lot easier. They were available to verify false stories given to the border guards in order to get the ISM volunteers into Israel. She offered to provide us with the names and numbers of leftists in Israel who would say they knew us. She mentioned the leftist Israeli group B’tselem as providing such false witnesses.
As for luggage, she told us if could pass as students we should just use a backpack. “A duffel bag on wheels does well at the airport. “Most of all, be patient. If they ask you questions such as ‘What are you doing here? Don’t you know there’s a war?’ you should reply, ‘I thought it was better now.’ Or say, ‘I had my ticket for a long time and my Israeli friends said I should come.’ If you are Jewish, know your Hebrew name if they ask you what it is. Know your story. Wear your Star of David especially if you are Jewish.”
Once we were inside Israel we were told we could make our way to the West Bank. She then began making a bulletin board of how we were to function by setting up rules.
The first rule was “Confidentiality.” Volunteers would be assigned to unknown affinity groups where they would function as teams to disrupt the Israel soldiers in military zones.
We were then instructed to say to the media if we were interviewed: “We support the Palestinian right to resist the occupation provided by international law.” If the interview were more extensive, we were told to say: “We call for an immediate end to occupation and immediate compliance and implementation of all relevant UN resolutions.”
When one of the trainees asked if we as ISM volunteers favored a two-state solution to secure peace, Brian Malovany, another senior trainer from Oakland who had just joined us explained, “The idea of a two-state solution is pretty much dead.”
“There can only be one state called Palestine,” explained Molvany. “And the Right of Return is non-negotiable. If people ask you about a two-state solution just tell them it’s a human rights issue.
Whatever you do though, do not dictate to the Palestinians what they should not do.” In other words, if the Palestinians shoot at Israeli soldiers don’t tell them it is wrong to do so. Apparently being non-violent peace activists only applies to the end of dismantling Israel and providing cover for the people who will commit the violent acts.
I asked Molvany, “But what if we see kids throwing stones at tanks or putting themselves in danger. Shouldn’t we tell them not to and urge them to stay away?” Brian Malovany responded: “We can’t tell kids not to throw stones! It’s not our place to tell them what to do.” We were told repeatedly not to tell the Palestinians how to “resist.”
During the lunch break I looked at my manual and found this ISM wisdom:
“When VIOLENCE is mentioned, say RESISTANCE or RESISTANCE TO INJUSTICE.”
“When TERRORISM is mentioned, emphasize STATE TERRORISM.”
“Instead of OCCUPATION say MILITARY OCCUPATION to make people think the occupation is a MILITARY DICTATORSHIP.”
Instead of HUMAN SHIELDS, refer to ourselves as INTERNATIONAL PEACE ACTIVISTS or PEACE ACTIVISTS/WORKERS.
When possible say ETHNIC CLEANSING. This can be used to refer to the expulsion of Palestinians from historic Palestine in 1948 as well as the current situation."
The most cynical section of the manual was the last chapter written by Paul LaRudee, the Northern California ISM leader: “You may well hear Palestinians talking ‘about the Jews’ when they really mean ‘Israelis’ or ‘the Israeli army’ or the ‘Israeli government.’ It is useful to remember the context; talk about “the Jews” is not the indication of bigotry that it would be in the United States or Europe.”
After lunch, we were given the activities schedule for the “Freedom Summer” anti-Israel campaign. It included marching onto an Israeli army base to free captured terrorists and trying to tear down the security fence.
As if conceding the point, the ISM manual stressed that the volunteers were not in any real danger from Israeli security forces and advised them to inconvenience and disobey them in every way possible. The manual also advised those who were arrested to contact the Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyer’s Guild, an organization created by the American Communist Party with a half century of legal experience in supporting Communist and totalitarian causes.
After the break we were told how to deal with Israeli soldiers. If advised to leave an area designated a closed military zone where the IDF is fighting terrorists, we were told to demand their orders in writing. “The soldiers can only detain you. They have to call the border police to arrest you,” counseled Jamie. If the soldiers tell you to back up ten feet, back up only five.” Anything and everything to interfere with the soldiers trying to do their jobs was our goal.
A list of instructions was given on how to deal with possible arrests since we would be doing our best to break the law. If a Palestinian was arrested for something serious like throwing a Molotov cocktail, we were told to show “prison solidarity” with him. We were told that international demonstrators usually get released quickly by the police once they reach the police station. But if we refused to leave without our Palestinian companion, the police might release him also just to get rid of all of us.