Honorary Degrees

N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may be available at the University Archives.

Name: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
Convocation date: June 5, 2014
Citation / biographical information:
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, OOnt, MD, MPH, is a Palestinian physician and an internationally-recognized human rights and inspirational peace activist devoted to advancing health and education opportunities for women and girls in the Middle East through his research and his charitable organization, The Daughters of Life Foundation. He has dedicated his life to using health as a vehicle for peace, aided by a great determination of spirit, strong faith, and a stalwart belief in hope and family.

Dr. Abuelaish is the first Palestinian doctor to receive an appointment in Medicine at an Israeli hospital and has experienced the impacts of conflict in countries like Palestine, Egypt, Israel, Uganda, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. His view of doctors as peace-makers through the moral doctrine of the profession has informed his work as both a healthcare practitioner and a peace advocate mobilizing health as a tool for peace.

Dr. Abuelaish has overcome many hardships, including poverty, violence, and the horrific tragedy of his three daughters’ and niece’s deaths in the 2009 Gaza War. His autobiography of this loss and subsequent transformation, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey (2010), is an international best-seller published in 20 languages and is a testament to his commitment to forgiveness as the solution to conflict and the catalyst towards peace. He continues to live up to the description bestowed upon him by an Israeli colleague as a “magical, secret bridge between Israelis and Palestinians.” He is now one of the most outspoken, prominent and beloved researchers, educators and public speakers on peace and development in the Middle East.

Many influential figures within the diplomatic community have spoken highly of Dr. Abuelaish’s work. In nominating Dr. Abuelaish for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Belgian Parliament named him the “Martin Luther King of the Middle East.” In his nomination for the Sakharov Prize, Dr. David Naylor, then President of the University of Toronto, called Dr. Abuelaish a remarkable ambassador for peace and an exemplar of forgiveness and reconciliation. President Barack Obama referred to him as an example of strength and reconciliation in his address on May 19, 2011, when he discussed the possibility of peace within the Middle East.

Dr. Abuelaish lives with his five children in Toronto where he is an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.
Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: Michelle Prytula

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