Guest, Paul Larudee

Guest Name: 
Paul Larudee
Paul Larudee
Guest Occupation: 
Teacher, Lecturer, U.S. Government Advisor, Solidarity Movement Activist, Co-Founder Free Palestine Movement, Co-Founder Free Gaza Movement, Doctor of Linguistics, Training Administrator, Humanitarian, Professor
Guest Biography: 

Dr. Paul Larudee spent 14 years in Arab countries as a student, teacher, Fulbright-Hays lecturer, and U.S. government advisor. He has been to Palestine many times since 1965, and is active with the International Solidarity Movement, a nonviolent resistance group. He is a co-founder of the Free Palestine Movement (FPM) and the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), whose boats broke a 41-year-old Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in August, 2008, and he was a member of the U.S. delegation aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli forces on May 31, 2010.

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Paul Larudee was born to an Iranian Presbyterian minister and his American missionary spouse in 1946 and grew up in the American Midwest. He has a Ph.D. in linguistics from Georgetown University and spent 14 years in Arab countries as a contracted U.S. government advisor, Fulbright-Hays exchange lecturer, teacher, training administrator and graduate student.

Paul has visited the Palestinian region many times since 1965, including four times with the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement that applies nonviolent principles to resist Israeli human rights violations. Paul was among seven ISM volunteers wounded by Israeli gunfire in April, 2002 in an otherwise nonviolent attempt to help Palestinian families. In 2006, he was held in Israeli detention for two weeks while unsuccessfully appealing a decision to deny him entry. He helped organize nonviolent resistance in Lebanon during the 2006 Israeli invasion. He is one of the founders of the Free Gaza Movement, whose boats, on August 23, 2008, became the first in 41 years to enter Gaza by sea, breaking the Israeli naval blockade. He is also a founder of the Free Palestine Movement, which also seeks to challenge Israel's blockade and denial of access to all of Palestine by sea, air and land.

Paul, a former student of Noam Chomsky, became a Professor of Linguistics himself and remains a good friend and colleague of Professor Chomsky. Working with the NorCal branch of the International Solidarity Movement, Paul is very much a believer in and practitioner of Gandhi's principles of non-violence. Paul was one of the 5 USA delegates aboard the Sfendoni, a ship of the Freedom flotilla attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.

When Israeli commandos boarded the Sfendoni in 2010, Paul non-violently resisted, refused to sign any papers without his lawyer and as a result the Israelis tased, tied-up, twisted his limbs, slammed his head into concrete repeatedly, and hit him with a flash bomb. Paul suffered multiple bruises, 2 black eyes, but refused to be treated by Israeli doctors as he did not trust them, especially since he suffers from Diabetes and needed special treatment and compatible medication. Paul was kept in prison for two days at Givon Prison, Ramle, Israel.

Paul also serves on the steering committee of Syria Solidarity Movement...

Origins of the Syria Solidarity Movement

In the summer of 2012, a loose network of social justice activists in the Middle East, Europe and North America that had worked together in previous projects related to Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt began to discuss forms of action with respect to the crisis in Syria.  They were concerned that nearly all the discourse in the West was in favor of military conflict and imperialist interests.  One of them, Eva Bartlett, created a list serve to provide a means of sharing information and discussion.
 
In August, some of the activists met at the Anti-Imperialist Camp in Assisi, Italy and formed a small delegation that went to Syria soon after.  For the remainder of the year, they made plans for a larger international delegation to go to Syria on a solidarity and fact-finding mission in order to bring back informed recommendations and a different narrative for promulgation.
 
Simultaneously and independently, the Syrian Mussalaha (“Reconciliation”) movement, which had formed in December, 2011, began taking its message to the West, largely through the efforts of Mother Agnes-Mariam of the Cross, Mother Superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated near Qara, Syria.  She made contact with Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, and did speaking tours of Australia and Ireland, and by the end of 2012, they, too, were making plans for an international delegation to Syria.
 
The Mussalaha delegation eventually took place in May, 2013, under the leadership of Mairead Maguire, with Mussalaha as the host organization, with Mother Agnes-Mariam as their representative.  Following the delegation, a number of subscribers to the nosyriaintervention list serve decided to try to create a North America speaking tour for Mother Agnes.  They therefore formed a nonprofit organization to sponsor the tour and, more generally, to provide alternate Syrian views of the crisis, to study alternate means of resolution and to pursue an end to the crisis, based upon principles set forth in the mission statement of the new organization.
 
On this basis, the Syria Solidarity Movement formed a Steering Committee, which designed and implemented the Mother Agnes-Mariam North America speaking tour and intends to undertake similar projects in support of its mission.