Palestinian doctor talks about peace during Inclusion Day at York

How does a Palestinian medical doctor continue to advocate for peace between Israelis and Palestinians after three of his daughters were killed during an Israeli incursion into Gaza last year? That’s what Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish will explain on Oct. 6 when he delivers the keynote speech at York’s Centre for Human Rights Inclusion Day – Dialoguing Across Differences.

He will talk about how he still yearns for peace and how, despite his horrific loss, there is no hate in his heart. Winner of the 2010 Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada and author of the Canadian bestseller I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey (Random House Canada, 2010), Abuelaish will give his keynote address at 6pm on Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the Price Family Cinema, 102 Accolade East Building, Keele campus. Admission is free. For tickets, click here.

Left: Izzeldin Abuelaish

Born, raised and educated in a refugee camp in Gaza, Abuelaish completed years of medical studies to become a gynecologist and obstetrician. He worked in an Israeli hospital delivering babies while living in Gaza. His commitment to health as a means to peace made him an eloquent proponent of coexistence between Palestinians and Israelis.

Minutes before a live interview from his home in January 2009, a shell blasted through the wall of his house killing three of his children. The immediate aftermath was broadcast live and the doctor’s grief shook viewers around the world.

Abuelaish has said, “If I knew my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss.”

A finalist for the 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Abuelaish’s dedication to humanitarian principles remains unbroken. He is also a professor of medicine at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. He is currently in the process of establishing the Daughters for Life Foundation for girls and women in the Middle East to help promote health and education in memory of his three daughters, Bessan, Mayar and Aya.

In addition to Abuelaish’s keynote, there will be discussions, presentations and workshops about differences, including topics of race and racialization, gender expression and expectations, (dis)abilities, sexual orientation and classroom diversity.

The sessions are free, but participants are encouraged to register in advance by clicking here.

From 10 to 11:15am:

Yvonne Simpson, manager in the Employee Well-Being Office, will discuss “Community Engagement: Enhancing Opportunities for Accommodation of Persons with Disabilities.”

A discussion on “Family Planning: Does Culture Matter? Health as a Bridge to Peace and the 519 Church Street Community Centre,” will also take place.

Students Hans Rollman and Tasia Alexopoulos will look at “Diversity vs. Normativity: Systematic Barriers to Classroom Dialogue and Inclusivity.”

From 11:30am to 12:45pm:

Student Bronwyn Walker will discuss “Disabled or Dis-enabled?”

Jennifer Dalton, a visiting scholar at the Centre for Refugee Studies, will look at “Engagement and Equality: Dialoguing on Aboriginal Peoples and Identity.”

From 1:45 to 3pm:

Students Amina Abbas, Shadell Permanand and Inbal Marcovitch will discuss “Agents for Change – Lessons from Middle East Peacebuilding Initiative.”

Kathleen Gould Lundy in the Research & Field Development Office of the Faculty of Education will look at “Keeping the Conversation Going: Thoughtful Dialogue and Respectful Relationship.”

From 3:15 to 4:30pm:

Ros Woodhouse, academic director of the Centre for the Support of Teaching, and colleagues will discuss “Developing Dialogue in Diverse Classroom.”

Environmental studies Professor Anders Sandberg and colleagues will look at “Climate Change, Climate Justice and Human Rights.”

The evening portion of the program will take place in the Accolade East Building on the Keele campus with light refreshments beginning at 5pm. Abuelaish’s keynote address will begin at 6pm with closing remarks, along with a book signing, at 7:30pm.

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit the Centre for Human Rights website or click here.