Yusif Barakat, one of the last Nakba survivors

Yusif Barakat, 85, Psychotherapist/peace activist, was born in Haifa, Palestine, and was displaced from his homeland at the age of 12 in August, 1947.

Barakat’s family left their home when Jewish immigrants were settled in Palestine after World War II. This 12-year-old shepherd boy landed at Ellis Island with his family, not speaking a word of English. Four years later, his father died, leaving Barakat to take care of his mother and three sisters.

He has been taking care of the needy ever since. Now a retired psychotherapist, Barakat has devoted himself to working with boys in the juvenile justice system, helping them develop trust and relationships through his treatment and rehabilitation program.

Barakat has had a long career in private practice doing family therapy and drug addiction treatment. He was elected as Oakland County Commissioner and was a candidate for the State House of Representatives and for the U.S. Congress.

He also has deep emotional ties to his native Palestine and is deeply saddened that the U.S. government is facilitating the suffering of Palestinians. “I am appalled at the billions of U.S. tax dollars that have gone to the Israeli government, which continues a 62-year-long occupation of Palestinian homelands. And when I saw all the death and destruction from the invasion of Gaza, I knew I had to do something.” And this is why Yusif joined the Gaza Freedom March in December of 2009.

Departing for Egypt, Barakat and 84 other international activists caravanned into Gaza to witness the still remaining devastation of the previous year’s attacks, and on December 31, joined local Palestinians in a non-violent march from Northern Gaza to the Erez/Israeli border. On the Israeli side of the Erez border Palestinians and Israelis called on the Israeli government to open the border.

See article, “Jogger” to give some more background.