On Jan. 13 Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian physician, came to the Pine View auditorium to speak to students about his experiences and the importance of eliminating hate. In Jan. 2009, three of Dr. Abuelaish’s daughters were tragically killed when an Israeli tank shelled his family’s home in the Gaza Strip. In response to this tragedy, Dr. Abuelaish has now focused his life on spreading peace.
In his talk, Dr. Abuelaish shared his life story and explained the concept of the organization he started called Daughters for Life. Set up in memory of his three daughters, Daughters for Life, focuses on providing scholarships to Middle Eastern women so they can study at colleges in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The scholarships are provided to women regardless of nationality or religion in hopes of promoting peace in the Middle East. After the scholars are finished with their studies abroad, they will return to their home countries to serve as examples of the importance of peace and education.
Daughters for Life is an international organization with programs in several countries but it has had a particular impact in the Sarasota area. The organization partners with New College of Florida and currently there are several Daughters for Life scholars attending the college.
Lauren Yenari, a tenth-grade student who organized the talk, is starting a Daughters for Life club in Sarasota to involve the Pine View and Sarasota communities even more. “There are a lot of people that are extremely uneducated about people from the Middle East, so it was very important that Dr. Abuelaish came to not only raise awareness for Daughters for Life, but also for people to understand that not all Arabs are bad people,” Yenari said. As a part of his message Dr. Abuelaish wrote a book called “I Shall Not Hate,” an emotional and powerful call for forgiveness and peace. While at Pine View, Dr. Abuelaish offered to sign student copies of his book and also answered any questions students had for him.
Dr. Abuelaish’s message resonated with students, showing them the importance of forgiveness and love. Ally Moyer, a tenth-grade student who attended the talk, said, “While Dr. Abuelaish was speaking I could see how his words were affecting all the students listening to him speak. His story is a really good example of how this world should be going about its problems, not with hatred and resentment, but with an open mind willing to love everybody.”