“I know that what I have lost. What was taken from me will never come back. But as a physician and a Muslim of deep faith, I need to move forward to the light, motivated by the spirits of those I lost. I need to bring them justice… I will keep moving but I need you to join me in this long journey.” Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, OOnt, MD, MPH, is a Palestinian physician and
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, OOnt, MD, MPH, is a Palestinian physician and internationally recognized human rights and inspirational peace activist devoted to advancing health and education opportunities for women and girls in the Middle East, both through his own research and by founding the charitable organization The Daughters of Life Foundation.
He has dedicated his life to using health as a vehicle for peace. He has succeeded despite all odds through a great determination of spirit, a strong faith, and a stalwart belief in hope and family. Dr. Abuelaish is the first Palestinian doctor to receive an appointment in Medicine at an Israeli hospital. Through his work he has had the opportunity to experience the impacts of conflict in countries like Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Uganda, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia.
Working as both an insider and outsider to conflict led him to consider doctors as peace-makers by the moral doctrine of their profession. His work as both a healthcare practitioner and a peace advocate mobilizes health as a tool for peace. Dr. Abuelaish has overcome many personal hardships, including poverty, violence, and the horrific tragedy of his three daughters’ and niece’s deaths in the 2009 Gaza War. He continues to live up to the description bestowed upon him by an Israeli colleague, as a “magical, secret bridge between Israelis and Palestinians”. He is now one of the most outspoken, prominent and beloved researchers, educators and public speakers on peace and development in the Middle East.
Dr. Abuelaish’s book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, and autobiography of his loss and transformation, has achieved critical acclaim. Published in 2010, (currently in 20 different languages), the book has become an international best-seller and was inspired by the loss of his three daughters . The book has become a testament to his commitment to forgiveness as the solution to conflict, and the catalyst towards peace. Dr. Abuelaish’s impact on peace-seeking communities is exceptional. He has been invited to give many speeches at places such as, the Canadian House of Commons, the American Congress, the Chilean Senate and Parliament, the European Parliament at Place Du Luxembourg in Brussels, the State Department, and Forum 2000 in Prague, and many more.
Dr. Abuelaish has been named one of the 500 most powerful Arabs as well as one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims five consecutive years by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan and has received a number of national and international awards and nominations in recognition of his advocacy and promotion of Human Rights, Peace and Health, to name a few, The Order Of Ontario, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Foundation P7V Citizenship Award, Calgary Peace Prize, Lombardy Region Peace Prize, first to receive Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada, Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship, Top 25 Canadian Immigrants, One of three finalist for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and nominated three years consecutively for the Nobel Peace Prize, and support for his candidacy keeps growing exponentially every year. Many influential figures within the diplomatic community have spoken very highly of Dr. Abuelaish’s work. In nominating Dr. Abuelaish for the Nobel Peace Prize the Belgian Parliament named him the “Martin Luther King of the Middle East”. In his nomination for the Sakharov Prize, Dr. David Naylor, then President of the University of Toronto, called Dr. Abuelaish a remarkable ambassador for peace and an exemplar of forgiveness and reconciliation. The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering spoke of him in his speech in Strasbourg, Germany at the opening of the exhibition “From Hebron to Gaza”. President Barack Obama referred to him as an example of strength and reconciliation in his address on May 19
In his nomination for the Sakharov Prize, Dr. David Naylor, then President of the University of Toronto, called Dr. Abuelaish a remarkable ambassador for peace and an exemplar of forgiveness and reconciliation. The President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pottering spoke of him in his speech in Strasbourg, Germany at the opening of the exhibition “From Hebron to Gaza”. President Barack Obama referred to him as an example of strength and reconciliation in his address on May 19th, 2011 when he discussed the possibility of peace within the Middle East. Dr. Abuelaish has founded
Dr. Abuelaish has founded Daughters for Life, a Canadian charity that provides young women in high school and university the opportunity to develop a strong voice and play a more influential role in improving the quality of life throughout the Middle East through their education. Currently, Dr. Abuelaish lives with his five children in Toronto where he is an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.