23 thoughts on “Izzeldin Abuelaish, the Love That Conquers Hate – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I haven’t heard his talk, but based on your post, it seems like it’s all pie-in-the-sky with the politics of the situation completely removed for the comfort of an audience. So I need to ask, did he devote any part of his discussion to what about Israeli policy is unjust? What it’s like to live under a siege in Gaza? The daily humiliations? And since he’s a doctor, the condition of Palestinians in need of medical care?

    If all he presented was some kumbaya mumbo-jumbo, then I’m sorry, Richard, this is utter bullcrap. This is a man who has the platform and the credibility to actually inform outsiders of what it’s like to be a Palestinian and of what Israel does to them, of what they can do to help end the occupation.

    Scholarships are nice, and I’m sure the girls who’ll receive them will benefit from them, but that won’t end the conflict. With or without the scholarships, there will be more deaths of Palestinian children if the conflict doesn’t end. If he is refusing to discuss the root cause, if he is deliberately de-politicizing it so that Americans can get this nice hopeful story, then what’s the point?

    1. The only one who’s full of mumbo jumbo & bullcrap is you. YOu can sit wherever you are in the comfort of yr own home where you’ve never known 1% of his suffering & tell him what he should do or say. Don’t you have any humility? Any sense of perspective? I let the victims speak. When you’re a victim then you can speak & I’ll listen. Till then why don’t you just shut up and listen to someone who’s honoring a sacred duty to his daughters’ memory.

      1. I honestly don’t know why you responded to me this way.

        Frankly, you don’t know who I am or what my story is. You don’t know that I have family in Gaza. This isn’t some abstract idea for me. It’s deadly real. So you don’t tell me to shut up, please.

        But my own story shouldn’t have any bearing on the legitimacy of my words. I asked you these questions hoping you’d answer me. I’m sorry to see that instead you’ve chosen to insult me.

        1. Yes, I understand precisely what you must feel. But your family’s suffering neither trumps his nor means that his is mumbo jumbo or weak-kneed nonsense. It just means that he has transmuted his suffering into a force both for resistance against Occupation and a constructive force for good. Others who suffer will respond ea. in their own way. You may respond however you wish & ignore Dr. Abuelais as well if you wish. But if you do so you dismiss an amazing force for good in the world. It’s your choice.

          His words are there for you to hear in the video. That should answer any questions you have & allow you to judge for yrself.

          And also remember that his suffering is personal and direct and not one-stepped removed as yours is. I have relatives who were exterminated in the Holocaust. But I don’t generally mention this since I feel the pain of a survivor or child of survivors is much more potent and direct.

        2. “So I need to ask, did he devote any part of his discussion to what about Israeli policy is unjust? What it’s like to live under a siege in Gaza? The daily humiliations? And since he’s a doctor, the condition of Palestinians in need of medical care?”

          In my own experience, the ‘kumbaya’ response usually comes from people who have not known suffering – people who are removed from the conflict and want to hear feel-good stories that tug on the heartstrings. A person who has lost his family in that brutal way is highly unlikely to respond like this. He can’t afford to. Sentimentalism is a luxury for people who haven’t lost anything that really matters.

          Dr Abuelaish has set up a charity in memory of his daughters that has the potential to do a lot of good within and beyond Palestinian society. Recently I read an interview with him which he outlined the charity’s goals and the philosophy at its heart. He does know what is needed and his charity is going to fill an important gap. Currently the only Palestinian organisation I know of that does the same kind of work as Daughters for Life is Stars of Hope. Stars of Hope is a wonderful group, but they work exclusively in Ramallah (and that’s one of their strengths – they’re communited-based). Abuelaish’s organisation is going to be much more wide-reaching. He’s not just talking about his experiences; he is taking action.

          I haven’t read his book yet, but I have high hopes from that as well. I find that it’s impossible to discuss the situation in Palestine with anybody in the UK without my listener asking me about Hamas or terror or some such thing. Supporters of Israeli policy have succeeded in framing the entire discourse in terms of Israeli security. Any book that challenges this myth is going to be useful when it comes to helping people to understand what they can do to challenge the occupation in their turn.

          1. One of the things that knocked me out about his charity is that he’s going to offer scholarships to women & girls from Israel as well as Arab countries (& Palestine). I think that’s pretty amazing considering what he’s been through.

  2. I hope this man is going to speak in Rhode Island. Richard, thank you for sharing this video.

    I think I will be using the share tool to post this on my blog.

  3. How come that reading about this man always makes one feel like crying ?
    I guess those “Stand With Us”-guys (sounds more like a Christian Zionist slogan) left because they realized that the “There-will-be-peace-when-the-Palestinians-love-their-children-more-than-they-hate-Israel”-crap wouldn’t work.

    There is two short videoclips of Bessan Abu al-Aish’ trip to the US in a joint program with four other young Israeli and Palestinian women in the ‘memorial’ section.
    Memorial > bessan > last of the 8 photos > 4 videos

  4. Hello S,

    The Dr.’s speech about how love can snuff out hate is not mumbo jumbo, it is the type of approach that helped Gandhi and MLK succeed. When he talks about how he lost his beloved daughters, he is conveying his pain to the audience, and along with that comes the fact that the Israeli government comitted this heinous crime.

    Everyone knows or will know that Israel killed his three daughters and niece, and everyone will get an idea of what a searing pain it must be to carry around such a loss. Let him express his views the way he wants without anyone telling him how to do so. I trust in his approach, in his message, one that includes peace, equality and non-violence.

    1. I don’t think that message is inherently valueless, and I was perhaps too harsh in referring to it as mumbo jumbo.

      But the audience that needs to hear that message of coexistence is in Palestine and Israel. The people in this country, on the other hand, need to be made to understand what our policies in conjunction with the policies of the Israeli occupation are doing to Palestinians. If he is going to speak as a Palestinian victim of the occupation, then in my view as a Palestinian whose family also suffers, he has a duty to spread that knowledge.

      I’m sorry if I come across as cynical, but I’ve seen these inspirational speakers come and go in the US, and I’ve seen all those co-existence camps being held here. They’ve gone on for decades but don’t ever change the outcome of the occupation. Sympathy is just no longer enough for the Palestinian people. They need direct action from their supporters abroad. That was my point, but apparently it’s not welcome on this website.

      1. I was perhaps too harsh

        I think it was too harsh. I should add that a Palestinian friend, Amine, who was there raised the challenging question of Abuelaish asking how he could speak of love in the face of an IDF “army of killers.” So it’s not like the speaker’s beliefs weren’t challenged or tested. YOu make a mistake if you believe this man (Abuelaish) isn’t tough, isn’t hardened, doesn’t resist evil or injustice. He does.

        Abuelaish was a pillar of the coexistence movement when he lived in Gaza. He was a physician at an Israeli hospital, beloved by staff & patients alike, yet lived in Jabaliya refugee camp. He’s paid his dues, believe me.

        He did say that Americans should become active in politics. But as a non citizen it would be presumptous of him to tell his American audience what specific policies they should advocate. Anyone who heard this speech knows by implication what policies he advocates.

        I have been involved in the peace anti-Occupation movement since the late 1960s so believe me I’ve heard virtually every speaker one can hear, & Abuelaish is the real deal. You don’t have to believe me. Go see him yrself if you can.

        Speaking of youth peace camps btw, his eldest daughter attended one in the U.S. & according to her father it impacted her profoundly. That’s why her killing comes across as even more horrific.

        If you expect a peace camp to end the Occupation you’re naive. It won’t. But it will incrementally change minds & hearts, & educate youth not to hate. It’s a start, not an end.

        If you weren’t welcome here believe me you’d know it. There are many commenters who truly aren’t welcome here & I tell them so. YOu haven’t violated the comment rules & there’s no reason for you to feel unwelcome. I just felt your comment was unfair & intemperate considering Abuelaish’s own personal suffering & his life experience.

        1. If any approach is going to convince Israelis to rethink their government’s actions it’s Abuelaish’s. I can tell you first hand I have seen Israelis’ reactions to his catastrophe and they are of deep empathy, guilt, remorse, and hope.

          1. Not all Israelis. I saw a video of Israelis ranting at him during a press conference at his own hospital, just days after he lost half his family. They literally raged in his face, screamed at him. None of them lost children fr. a Qassam. None.

            But yes, there are many Israelis who feel sorry for him, who perhaps even feel sorry for the IDF’s actions. But unlike Abuelaish, they refuse to understand the underlying issues. They refuse to denounce Cast Lead, which is what killed his children. They refuse to end the Occupation. They refuse to do what needs to be done to fix the situation. So sympathy only goes so far.

  5. I believe him, and I believe Naim Ateek and Mark Braverman and JVP. I also believe what I saw “on the other side of the wall” when I visited Beit Sahour:

    – Israeli policy strangles Palestinian people

    – Israeli goal is to make life intolerable, so that all Palestinians leave…somehow and somewhere

    – The only reasonable “peace plan” shares all the land, makes everyone citizens, and gives all citizens equal rights.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Welch.

      I saw Dr. Abuelaish at Seattle Townhall last night. His talk was more like a sermon and full of cliches.

      It was as if he jumped directly to the “reconciliation” part of a truth and reconciliation effort without first confronting the “truth.”

      He is entitled to his own way of working out his grief. But as for the whole of the Palestinian people, I do not see how the doctor’s prescription will change much of anything (especially the brutal Israeli occupation).

      1. His talk was more like a sermon and full of cliches.

        You were a minority of one. He received double standing ovations from 600 audience members. You must’ve been the one I saw sitting on your hands w. a sullen look on yr face.

        as for the whole of the Palestinian people, I do not see how…

        And you know what the “whole of the Palestinian people” believe or want & know how they should get it?

  6. I’m astounded and deeply, deeply saddened by some of the cynical comments above.

    Truly, Izzeldein Abuelaish is an angel sent from God.

    We should listen to him in humility and reverence!

    May God bless him!


  7. salam oulaikoum Dr Abulelaish listening to your speech makes me cry and in the same time proud of you as a father and humain.I beleive every word in your speech,I realy want to make contact with you if you don t mind i left my email address if you wish to contact me god bless and thank you

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