In January 2009, an Israeli tank shelled the home of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish in the Gaza Strip and killed three of his daughters: Bessan, 21; Mayar, 15; and Aya, 13. This tragedy occured only minutes before Dr. Abuelaish was scheduled to speak live on Israeli television. His recorded cries for help captured hearts and headlines in Israel and around the world, and his response to the loss of his daughters was followed by international audiences. Dr. Abuelaish never sought to seek revenge or sink into despair and hatred. Instead, he called for those in the Middle East to stop the bloodshed and facilitate discourse for mutual understanding. His strongest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and his advocacy efforts have been acknowledged with numerous humanitarian awards.
The Daughters for Life Foundation was established in memory of Bessan, Mayar, and Aya, and their love of life and learning as well as their hopes and dreams for a better educated world. The Foundation believes that lasting peace in the Middle East depends on the empowerment of girls and young women through education, which will allow them to become agents of change for the betterment of life throughout the Middle East. To that end, we provide scholarships and awards for aspiring young women in order to enable them to pursue studies that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Awards are offered to students in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, as well as scholarships at the graduate and undergraduate levels to study in North America and Europe.
“I know what I have lost, what was taken from me, will never come back. But as a physician and a Muslim of deep faith, I need to move forward to the light, motivated by the spirits of those I lost. I need to bring them justice… I will keep moving but I need you to join me in this long journey.”
We support young women of any Middle Eastern nationality, regardless of their religious affiliation, ethnicity or background. Our recipients are chosen not only for their academic prowess, which has often been challenged in the face of socio-economic adversity and hardship, but also for their character and commitment to the improvement of lives for girls and young women in the Middle East. Our goal is to invest in their potential for leadership and foster their success in whichever fields they choose to specialize in.
MEET THE FOUNDER
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH
A five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee and internationally recognized human rights and inspirational peace activist, known as the “Martin Luther King of the Middle East”, often referred to as the “Gaza Doctor” in the media, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian medical doctor and infertility specialist who is devoted to advance health and education opportunities for women and girls in the Middle East, through his researches and his charitable organization, the Daughters for Life Foundation.
Dr. Abuelaish, who has worked in Israeli hospitals caring for patients and delivering babies of both Palestinian and Israeli descent, has always said that all people, regardless of their religious and political beliefs, are equal, deserve access to quality education and health care, and should have every opportunity to lead fulfilling and rewarding lives.
Born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abuelaish has overcome many personal hardships, including poverty and violence, to become one of the most outspoken, prominent, and beloved educators and public speakers on peace and development in the Middle East. His personal doctrine is that hate is not a response to war. Rather, open communication, understanding, and compassion are the tools needed to bridge the divide between Israeli and Palestinian interests. “All can live in harmony,” he says. “And all can reach their full potentials spiritually, emotionally, physically and intellectually.”
Dr. Abuelaish received his elementary, preparatory and secondary educations in the refugee camp school system in Jabalia, Gaza. As a child and 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 associated with the siege and its 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. Abuelaish aspired to become a doctor from a young age. He earned a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Cairo and earned a diploma in Obstetrics and Gynecology with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the University of London. He specialized with training programs in Israel, Italy, and Belgium and earned a Master’s degree in Public Health, Health Policy, and Management at Harvard University. Dr. Abuelaish was the first Palestinian doctor to receive a staff position at an Israeli hospital and for many years, he worked as a senior researcher at the Gertner Institute in Sheba Hospital in Israel.
When his three young daughters, Bessan, 21, Mayar, 15, and Aya, 13, and his niece Noor, 17, were killed by an Israeli tank in Gaza on January 16, 2009, Dr. Abuelaish’s family had already been grieving the loss of his wife to cancer four months earlier. His 2010 memoir I Shall Not Hate, describes how the tragedy that befell Dr. Abuelaish’s family inspired him to dedicate his work towards peace and conflict resolution between Palestinians and Israelis. The memoir has been translated into 16 languages, been widely received all over the world, and has decorated Dr. Abuelaish a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Currently, Dr. Abuelaish is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada. where he teaches three courses in public health: Women’s Health in Countries of Conflict, Health as an Engine for the Journey to Peace, and International Perspectives on Health Services Management. These courses focus on understanding the sources of social and political conflict, and provide tangible and pragmatic ways to promote health as a strategy towards building peace.
Dr. Abuelaish’s Awards
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Saint Joseph’s College, 2016
- Doctor of Science, Simon Fraser University, 2016
- Doctor of Laws, University of Windsor, 2016
- Doctor of Laws, Brock University, 2016
- Doctor of Laws, University of Calgary, 2015
- Doctor of Laws, York University, 2015
- Doctor of Humane Letters, New College of Florida, 2015
- Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies, Sault College, 2014
- Doctor of Laws, University of Saskatchewan, 2014
- Doctor of Laws, McMaster University, 2014
- Doctor of Letters, University of Toronto, 2013
- Citizenship from the Government of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2012
- Doctor of Laws, University of Western Ontario, 2012
- Doctor of Laws, University of Manitoba, 2011
- Doctor of Laws, Queen’s University, 2011
- Governor General Medallion, 2016
- Public Peace Prize, 2014
- Order of Ontario, 2013
- Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2013
- Calgary Peace Prize, 2012
- Mahatma Ghandi Peace Award of Canada, 2010
- Living Legend Award, Human Symphony Foundation (Washington, DC), 2016
- Personality of the Year in Palestine, 2015
- Award of Excellence for Promotion of Human Rights and Peace, 2015
- Medicine and Health as a Catalyst to Peace, 2015
- One of the 500 Most Powerful Arabs in the World, 2013
- Walter Reuther Social Justice Award, 2012
- Middle Eastern Monitor Magazine Book Prize (London, UK), 2012
- Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, 2012
- Middle East Institute Award, 2009
- Stavros Niarchos Prize for Survivorship, 2009
- Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2016
- Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Finalist, 2009
I Shall Not Hate
“I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity”, was published in 2010 and inspired by the loss of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish’ three daughters and his niece. It has achieved worldwide critical acclaim, has been an international bestseller in five continents, and has been translated into 23 languages, resonating with millions of people worldwide. As a matter of fact, his book has received over 26 million hits on Google and been used in universities for various fields of study.
What can you do? You can do a lot.
You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians and religious leaders.
You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony…
“I know that what I have lost, what was taken from me, will never come back. But as a physician and a Muslim of deep faith, I need to move forward to the light, motivated by the spirits of those I lost. I need to bring them justice… I will keep moving but I need you to join me in this long journey.” – I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish – now known simply as “the Gaza doctor” – captured hearts and headlines around the world in the aftermath of horrific tragedy: on January 16, 2009, Israeli shells hit his home in the Gaza Strip, killing three of his daughters and a niece.
By turns inspiring and heartbreaking, hopeful and horrifying, this is Abuelaish’s account of a Gazan life in all its struggle and pain. A Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Abuelaish is an infertility specialist who lived in Gaza but plied his specialty in Israeli hospitals. From the strip of land he calls home (a place where 1.5 million refugees are crammed into 360 square kilometres of land), the Gaza doctor has been crossing the lines that divide the region for most of his life, as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the border and as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved public health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East.
But it was Abuelaish’s response to the loss of his children that made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, in this personal account of his life, Izzeldin Abuelaish is calling for the people of the Middle East to start talking to each other. His deepest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
DAUGHTERS FOR LIFE
Board of Directors
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is the Founder and President of The Daughters for Life Foundation. A Palestinian physician, he is now one of the most prominent international speakers on peace and development and has been called the “Martin Luther King of the Middle East.” In two separate addresses to the nation, President Barak Obama has held up his work as an example of the promise of reconciliation in the Middle East.
Dr. Abuelaish’s internationally acclaimed book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, was inspired by the loss of three of his daughters – Bessan, Mayar, and Aya – to Israeli shelling in 2009. The book has been translated into 16 languages and is a testament to his deeply held belief as a devout Muslim that non-violence is the only path to lasting peace.
Dr. Abuelaish is an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. He has received many awards for his promotion of human rights and peace, including the Order of Ontario, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Calgary Peace Prize, and the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award of Canada. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Manitoba, Queens University, and the University of Western Ontario. Dr. Abuelaish is a nominee for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for the third consecutive year.
Dalal is an active member of the Arab Student Association at the University of Toronto which sponsors public awareness programs on the Middle East. As a teenager she attended a peace camp in New Mexico, USA, which sparked a lifelong interest in dialogue across cultural and religious traditions. Dalal and her sister, Shatha, were media spokespersons for the Daughters for Life Inaugural Gala in 2012.
Paul W. Gooch is President Emeritus, Victoria University in the University of Toronto. A graduate of Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Quebec, he did a master’s degree in the Philosophy of Religion and a doctorate in Greek Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He has taught at the University of Toronto since 1967, where he is Professor of Philosophy, with a cross-appointment to the Centre for the Study of Religion. Prior to becoming President of Victoria, Professor Gooch served as Vice-Provost of the University of Toronto. He has held several academic administrative positions at U of T, including Chair of the Division of Humanities at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, Director of the Graduate Centre for Religious Studies, and the positions of Associate Dean, Vice-Dean and Acting Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. In 1982-83, he was Commonwealth Fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Professor Gooch is the author of Partial Knowledge: Philosophical Studies in Paul (University of Notre Dame Press, 1987) and Reflections on Jesus and Socrates: Word and Silence (Yale University Press, 1996), books well received on both sides of the Atlantic. He is currently engaged in writing a book about Plato’s understanding of human appetites for food, sex and money.
Michelle Kerr is a fundraising leader with over 20 years of experience in philanthropy in the health, post-secondary education and social services sectors. Michelle has a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) designation and a BAA from Toronto Metropolitan University. In her current role as VP Development and Operations at The WoodGreen Foundation, she was part of the team that successfully completed their first major capital campaign, raising in excess of $20 Million to support the poverty reduction work of WoodGreen Community Services. Prior to her current role, she was in fundraising leadership roles at Brock University and Toronto East General Hospital (now Michael Garron Hospital). She is a long-time volunteer for the sport of rowing and is the Immediate Past President of the St. Catharines Rowing Club and a Director on the St. Catharines World Rowing Board.
Darryl is an experienced senior financial and operations executive, with over 20 years of experience in a variety of industries, including consumer packaged goods, custom plastic injection, construction, and auto-motive. He has worked for a Fortune 500 organization in multiple financial business support roles and also has experience working with a number of private and family businesses, ranging in both size and complexity. Known as a proven team leader and business partner, he has the courage to tackle tough issues with a diplomatic approach. Darryl effectively leverages his wealth of experience to act as a trusted advisor for every client.
Since 2013, Darryl has been the president of Part Time CFO Services Incorporated, offering medium-sized companies strategic financial and business advisory services. He provides mentorship and training for financial departments and employees during times of crisis management and succession.
He plays many roles through his voluntary work and extracurricular activities.
He is a board member of Habitat for Humanity Canada, Northhumberland division, secretary and treasurer for the Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre, Expert In Residence for the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster, and is the current President, Vice President, Convenor, Referee & Coach of the Port Hope Soccer Club.
Lorna Jean (LJ) Edmonds retired in August 2020 from Ohio University where she served for seven years as the Vice Provost of Global Affairs and Director of the Center for International Studies. She is a Professor Emerita of Global Health in the College of Health Sciences and Professions. She is an active and engaged executive, educator and scholar invested in the globalization of higher with a particular interest in inclusive, secure and cooperative governance of our world as we extend activities into the universe. She has worked to advance inclusive discovery, talent development, engagement, security, human and disability rights, and peace and social justice in five academic institutions in Canada and the United States, collaborating with hundreds of universities, the private, public and multilateral sectors and professional associations. She has visited over 65 countries, including working with partners facing vulnerabilities in safety, security, environment, and access to needed services. She holds a PhD in Development Studies, University of East Anglia (UK), Masters in Health Administration, University of Ottawa and BA (Sciences), Queen’s University. She continues to be actively engaged in speaking engagements and ongoing opportunities to make a contribution such as current membership on the Board of the DFL and the US National Space Society.
Britta Baron, a founding member of the European Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research (ECCIR), since November 2021, is serving as Board Chair and President for the organization.
Britta Baron’s career focusses on internationalization in higher education, research and innovation. She previously served as Vice-Provost und Associate Vice-President (International) at the University of Alberta from 2006 to 2018 and at Western University from 2021 to 2022. She took the role of the Director of International and as such member of the university leadership team at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin between 2018 and 2020.
Between 1983 and 2004 Britta Baron held various leadership roles in the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst or DAAD), one of the leading scholarship organizations in the world, including Director of its offices in New York and London/UK.
With degrees in Comparative Literature and German from the University of Göttingen and the University of Bonn, she was appointed a visiting professor in Modern Languages at the University of Keele in the UK and has taught in a Master’s program at the University of London’s Institute of Education. She received an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University. In May 2022, Britta Baron was awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
From 2012 to 2020, she was a member of the Governing Board of Bielefeld University (Germany). She has been a member of the Advisory Board of the BMW Center for European Studies at Georgetown University. She worked on the International Education Leadership Committee in NAFSA and was elected to the NAFSA Board of Governors and its Executive Committee for the years 2016 to 2018. She also served as an elected member of the International Commission of APLU, for which she co-hosted the Annual Summer Meeting 2017 in Kananaskis. As one of its founding members, she served on the Management Committee of CALDO, a consortium of Canadian research universities committed to advancing the country’s international education connections.
She is a frequent speaker on topics relating to comparative higher education and internationalization and has published widely. She is co-author, with Dr. Carl Amrhein, of “Building Success in a Global University,” published in 2013. She is a dual Canadian and German citizen and lives in London/Ontario.
Meet The Team
Jacklin possesses over fifteen years of strategic management experience in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. Before joining DFL in 2015, Jacklin played a vital role in the communications, business development, and public relations divisions of a variety of companies in the Middle East. Her recent studies at the University of Toronto focused on strategic communications and digital marketing. She holds a BA in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Egypt.
Jacklin leads the foundation’s programs and operations, alongside a network of passionate volunteers, under the guidance of DFL’s dedicated Board of Directors a. Jacklin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many factors in the Middle East can make education for young women very difficult. But with your donation, we can help many talented women, access the best education possible. We believe that investing in young women’s education is the key to long lasting peace and better future for all of us.