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Mir Centre for Peace Lecture Series presents Nobel Peace Prize nominee Izzeldin Abuelaish

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
September 8th, 2011

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish was first cast into the public eye during the Gaza War that began in late 2008.

In January 2009, two days before the end of Israel’s 22-day assault on Gaza, Israeli shells fell on Abuelaish’s family home, brutally killing three of his daughters and their cousin.

Amazingly, the loss did not embitter Abuelaish. He decided instead that his girls’ deaths must not be in vain.

Slowly, he turned his grief into a force for peace. To that end, Dr. Abuelaish wrote about the desperate need for peaceful coexistence in his memoir I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctors Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity.

The Mir Centre for Peace is pleased to host a lecture by a humanitarian such as Dr. Abuelaish.

“Peace in the Middle East is indeed a Canadian issue. Because Canada is a close ally of Israel, we need to be aware of the role our government is playing in this conflict,” says Randy Janzen, chair of Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College.  

Known as the Gaza Doctor, Abuelaish is a Palestinian physician who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He is an infertility specialist who lived in Gaza but worked in both Gaza and Israel.

As a doctor, who treated patients on both sides of the line, he has bridged the divide between Israelis and Palestinians for most of his life.

The best-selling book tells the life story of Izzeldin Abuelaish, a person who has lived through six decades of destruction and despair in the semi-permanent and incredibly overcrowded conditions of the Gaza refugee camps.

Abuelaish, like so many other Palestinians, has endured loss, privation, discrimination and suffering on a scale that is inconceivable.

“Dr. Abuelaish’s message is not a political solution to the intractable conflict between Israel and Palestine. It is a human cry for peace. His story is one of forgiveness, reconciliation and hope,” explains Janzen.

I Shall Not Hate describes Abuelaish’s philosophy of peace, which is inspired by his experiences practicing medicine in Israel. He worked in several Israeli hospitals and built many positive personal relationships with Israelis.

These types of relationships, he believes, are essential for peace in the region. He thinks that Israelis and Palestinians need to relate to each other as individuals and must move away from the us versus them mentality that is so prevalent today.

To honour his daughters, Abuelaish established the Daughters of Life Foundation to empower the women and girls of the Middle East. He sees improved health and education for women as the way forward.  

Dr. Abuelaish now lives in Toronto with his five remaining children and is an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health.

You are invited to hear Dr. Abuelaish speak as part of the Mir Centre for Peace Lecture Series. He will be at the Brilliant Cultural Centre on Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and students.

They can be ordered by phone at 250-365-1281 or are available at Otter Books in Nelson, Castlegar & District Library and all Selkirk College bookstores.

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