Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Doctor who lost three daughters in Gaza War addresses need for peace

Published: October 23, 2009
Section: News

A doctor who lost three daughters during the Gaza War spoke about the need for peace and cooperation in the Middle East in Olin-Sang auditorium Wednesday.

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, whose three daughters were killed when Israeli tanks destroyed his home on Jan. 16, explained that action towards peace and not discussion must be the ultimate goal.

Abuelaish, currently a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, lived through the 22 day Gaza War last winter. The three week struggle left about 1,740 dead and 5,500 wounded, according to Abuelaish. Before moving to Canada, he worked as a physician in Israel.

In a presentation of words and images, Abuelaish described a photo of his daughters’ bedroom, indignant that the tanks would attack children’s bedrooms.

“This is their room that was full of weapons. These are their weapons – books and toys,” he said.

“I hope [some]one from Brandeis to tell me what is the definition of peace,” Abuelaish continued. “I am not coming to convince you, but maybe to awaken the human feelings among all of us.”

After losing his wife last fall in addition to his three daughters during the war, Abuelaish stressed he did not want to blame one side or the another, but rather to create a joint effort to end the fighting.

“Darkness will never drive out darkness,” he said. “Only love, understanding, and care can drive out darkness.”

Abuelaish, calling hate a disease, expressed how he was able to move on and demand peace after the tragedy he suffered.

“The choice is between being sick and diseased or being healthy with a scar.” he said. “Immediately, I decided to be human and not to be sick with hate.”

In a conflict full of opinions and prejudice, Abuelaish explained the need to look at both sides of the issue.

“Our problem, Palestinians and Israelis, is that we don’t know each other,” he said.

Though he was repeatedly asked by the audience to take a political position, Abuelaish replied that, “we must look for the best who can lead – not the one from this party or not.”

“I think if you want to know you must open your eyes and use them both because the coin has two sides,” Abuelaish said.

Proud of his daughters’ academic success in high school, Abuelaish also discussed the importance of equal opportunity for girls and women in Gaza.

On one of the slides during his presentation, the doctor quoted Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” stating that he has his own dream of peace in his homeland.

“It’s a matter of action. Willingness and talking is good, but it is not enough,” he said. “I think it’s a moral and ethical responsibility of each of us to defend the Gazans not because they are Palestinians but because they are humans.”

Stressing that the problem is urgent, Dr. Abuelaish said, “The patient is suffering. The patient is in pain.”