Dr. Abuelaish's 'Daughters for Life'

“If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss,” wrote Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Gazan obstetrician-gynecologist specializing in infertility following the killing of three of his daughters and a niece by an IDF tank shell that hit his family’s home in the Jabalia refugee camp in the final days of Operation Cast Lead in 2009. The tragic incident took place while Abuelaish was reporting live from Gaza by telephone for an Israeli news broadcast.

Despite knowing that his daughters have not been and will not be the last sacrifice, Abuelaish has nonetheless been able to forge ahead on that road better than most. “Urged on by the spirits of those he lost, his belief in medicine and his deep faith in Islam, Abuelaish offers practical ways of bridging the gaps between two peoples he believes have more similarities than differences,” wrote Canadian author Jonathan Garfinkel in his review of the doctor’s book, “I Shall Not Hate,” in The Globe and Mail last year.

One major way in which Abuelaish, 57, is bridging the gaps and working toward a more peaceful Middle East is through his Daughters for Life Foundation, which he has established in memory of his late daughters. This year the foundation is distributing its inaugural set of awards, 35 of them at 10 universities in Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In Israel, the awards will go to students at Haifa University and Ben-Gurion University, where the first three awards were presented earlier this month.

The $1,000 awards are given out to outstanding female students in the fields of medicine, law, education, journalism and business, for their “demonstrated academic excellence, creativity, compassion, a developed sense of humanity, the overcoming of adversity, devotion to improving the circumstances of girls and women and financial hardship.” Those four fields were the ones in which his daughters had expressed interest before their deaths.

The three BGU recipients are:

Abuelaish, who now lives in Toronto and teaches at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at BGU’s Soroka University Medical Center and received his Masters of Publish Health from Harvard. He was the first Palestinian doctor to be appointed to a staff position at an Israeli hospital, and for many years he worked as a senior researcher at Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Dr. Abuelaish's 'Daughters for Life'

Thank you!

This article has been sent!