Raja Shehadeh is a Palestinian author, lawyer, human rights activist, and founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq. Shehadeh wrote several acclaimed books, including Strangers in the House, Occupation Diaries, and Palestinian Walks, which won the prestigious Orwell Prize for political writing.
Raja Shehadeh was born into a prominent Palestinian Christian family that fled from Jaffa to Ramallah in the West Bank, Jordan. His great-great-grandfather, journalist Najib Nassar, founded the Haifa newspaper Al-Karmil in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, before the First World War.
In 2011, Shehadeh wrote a memoir, A Rift in Time, about his great-uncle — the details of his life and the route of his great escape from occupied Palestine.
Raja Shehadeh attended Birzeit College for two years before studying English literature at the American University of Beirut. After graduating from AUB, he enrolled at the College of Law in London. Following his education, Shehadeh returned to Ramallah and went into legal practice with his father.
Shehadeh also trained as a barrister in London. In 1979, he founded the human rights organization Al-Haq, one of the first human rights organizations in the Arab world.
Raja Shehadeh has written several books on international law, human rights, and the Middle East. He debuted in 1982 with the history book The Third Way about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 2008, Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks won the Orwell Prize. In this evocative book, Raja describes six mountain walks in the landscape that became the site of a tense standoff between his fellow Palestinians and settlers who arrived from Israel between 1978 and 2006.
Palestinian Walks is a heartbreaking metaphor for the deprivations of an entire people estranged from their land.
His most recent book, We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I (2022), is a subtle psychological portrait of a complicated father-son relationship.
In addition to writing, he blogs regularly for the International Herald Tribune, New York Times, and others.
Raja Shehadeh lives in Ramallah, on the West Bank.