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Izzeldin Abuelaish

Peace advocate, survivor Izzeldin Abuelaish to speak at MemAud

Three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and best-selling author comes to speak to students for International Education Week.


As a Palestinian born and raised in a refugee camp in the Gaza strip, Izzeldin Abuelaish experienced a world of war and hate. 

His book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey On The Road To Human Dignity, shares the hardships he has endured including poverty, hatred and the adverse death of his three daughters and niece in the 2009 Gaza War. Wednesday, Abuelaish will speak at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium as the keynote speaker for Ohio University’s International Education Week, sharing those experiences. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of OU’s Center for International Studies which is sponsoring the week of events. 

Abuelaish, feeling he owes a responsibility to his daughter, finds strength to relive how hate and violence affected him directly, and for others to hear the peaceful principles in his Daughters For Life Foundation.

Throughout his work and life story, he promotes the opportunity of young women in the Middle East to excel. Currently, he is an associate professor of global health at the University of Toronto. His efforts have garnered him three Nobel Peace Prize nominations. 

Lorna Jean Edmonds, vice provost for Global Affairs and professor of health sciences and professions, knows Abuelaish personally.

“The thing about Izzeldin is that he was promoting peace through health all his life,” Edmonds said. “He speaks from the heart and the soul and from his daughters. He tries to be their voice.”

As Athens residents still recover from Sunday’s fire, his talk will be applicable as it focuses on rising above hardship. 

“I want to inspire them — to give them hope,” Abuelaish said. “I want them to believe in not underestimating themselves … and encourage them to take action.”

Edmonds said his message will not be about the Middle East, but about community building. 

“This is as relevant to Athens, as it is to countries in Africa, Europe or the Middle East,” Edmonds said. 

Abuelaish said he will talk about the importance of education. Not just academic education, but education with a social impact, as well as the education of women, and the relationship between genders.

“The world is full of hate, and we can overcome this with education,” Abuelaish said. “Education is the light which guides us in times of darkness.”  

His foundation derives mainly from his daughters and their memoriam so they are heard by others. 

“We were created to compliment each other, to support each other … this world is not built on men and only men,” Abuelaish said. “We lost the connectedness and relationship to each other … We need to know each other better than we know the material world.”



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