Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish received his elementary, preparatory and secondary educations in the refugee camp school system in Jabalia, Gaza. As a child and as an adult, he and his family endured the dismal and severely impoverished conditions of the refugee camp, as well as the constant humiliation and inhumanity of the siege and its associated checkpoints and travel restrictions.
At all times, Dr. Abuelaish strived to maintain a balanced and positive perspective toward his experiences and the Israeli people, knowing that the latter are not representative of the sentiments that fuel one of the world’s longest conflicts and the conflict that threatens overall world security.
Dr. Habib Khoury, 42, is a Palestinian Canadian practicing dentistry at Centrum Dental Care in Kanata. Last year, he came up with the idea of finding an innovative way to raise funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s Community Mental Health Program. The program supports Palestinians, particularly children, who are coping with mental health issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
When Marwan Abdalla began planning the first Palestinian Festival in Ottawa, there was one thing he was certain of, “We are having it at City Hall!” Fortunately, the city was receptive and the festival will be taking place in Marion Dewar Park, adjacent to City Hall, from August 29th to 31st. Mayor Jim Watson will even be opening the event with an inaugural speech.
Canada’s most famous Palestinian resident, University of Toronto Professor Izzeldin Abuelaish, has been tirelessly working to demand an end to the current conflict that is costing the lives of so many civilians in Gaza, his homeland.
Dr. Abuelaish knows firsthand the crushing loss that these conflicts bring to ordinary Gazan families. When an Israeli missile crashed through his house his three daughters and niece were killed in Gaza in 2009. But Dr. Abuelaish vowed not to hate and wrote a memoir, ‘I Shall Not Hate’, calling for an end to the occupation and the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians that he saw as responsible for the death of his family members.
Gaza, and Palestine in general, has always been portrayed through the gory images of bombings, the dead and the injured, bloodshed and tons of rubble and destruction. Although this is an ugly reality that should never be concealed from the eyes of the international audience that observe the goings-on in Palestine through the media, there is no personal connection that is made with the Palestinian people where they can be recognized for the things that make people human. What many people end up being surprised to realize is that Gaza, outside the scope of war and violence, is a beautiful city full of people that are immersed with the love for their culture, traditions, cuisine, history, and nation.