Late one January afternoon in 2009, during a three-week war between the Israeli military and Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip, two tank shells crashed through the bedroom wall of a Palestinian home in Jabalia City where Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish lived with his family.
Three of his daughters between the ages of 13 and 21 were killed instantly, along with a 17-year-old niece.
Abuelaish, a gynecologist and obstetrician who was the first Palestinian doctor to work on the staff of an Israeli hospital, responded with a book, “I Shall Not Hate,” about his life, the tragedy that befell his family, and his vision for a peaceful future between Israelis and Palestinians. The book has been translated into more than 20 languages. Abuelaish has won numerous awards for his peace activism, and has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
During the first week in November, Abuelaish discusses his journey and the role that doctors can play as peacemakers at several public appearances at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU).
“Since our MA in biomedicine program emphasizes a holistic approach to health and healing, we are especially interested in hearing Dr. Abuelaish’s description of how healthcare delivery is linked to creating peace,” said Roman Miller, professor of biology and director of the master’s in biomedicine program.
Abuelaish is now associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
“Dr. Abuelaish has an inspiring story of forgiveness, resilience and hope,” said Daryl Byler, director of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. “In spite of losing three daughters and a niece due to Israeli shelling of his Gaza home, Dr. Abuelaish has chosen to work for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. His choice to humanize rather than demonize the ‘other’ is a powerful example for all who are proponents of nonviolence.”
The following events on campus will be open to the public:
- Tues., Nov. 4, 11-11:45 a.m. Seminary chapel, in Martin Chapel
- Tues., Nov. 4, 7-8:30 p.m. Community lecture, “From Forgiveness to Compassion: The personal journey of a Gaza physician” followed by book signing, in Martin Chapel
- Wed., Nov. 5, 12-1 p.m. Center for Interfaith Engagement lunch and informal conversation about interfaith experiences in the Middle East, in West Dining Room
- Wed. Nov. 5, 1-2 p.m. Book signing, in EMU Bookstore
- Wed., Nov. 5, 4-5 p.m. Suter Science Seminar, “I Shall Not Hate: A Journey of Hope through Faith, Tolerance and Courage” followed by book signing, in Science Center 106
Abuelaish’s visit is sponsored by EMU, the EMU Student Government Association, the EMU Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, the EMU Center for Interfaith Engagement, the EMU nursing department and James Madison University’s Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence.