Dr. Izzedin Abuleish sits with his children in the middle of their apartment in the northern Gaza Strip. They have no electricity and they’re afraid to move about too much — Israeli soldiers are suspicious of any movement they see, he said.
“It’s a real tragedy,” Abuleish told The Chronicle in a phone interview Wednesday from his apartment. “We see the death in front of us every moment. I am sitting with my children, helpless.”
Yet this Palestinian physician and a Muslim, is calling for a complete cessation of attacks from both sides.
“Peace is not created through killing each other and violence,” he said. “Peace is created through partnership, cooperation sharing, respecting each other and listening to each other.”
Abuleish, a physician who did his medical training in Israel, will deliver that same message to Jewish Pittsburgh via a phone hookup Thursday, Jan. 15, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Levinson Hall at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.
He is part of a program titled “Hope Under Threat: Alternative Jewish Voices from Sderot and Pittsburgh,” which will present alternative views to the fighting between Israel and Hamas.
“Alternative views of the war will be presented in a pro-Israeli context,” said Dr. Naftali Kaminski, an Israeli physician and associate professor of medicine, pathology, human genetics and computational biology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Abuleish will be one of several participants in the program. Others are blogger Eric Yellin an Israeli resident of Sderot; two Israeli military reservists who oppose the war, and Diane Balser, the executive director of Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, an American grassroots Jewish organization dedicated to promoting a negotiated two-state resolution by promoting a U.S. foreign policy which supports Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab states in making the difficult compromises that are needed for a negotiated solution, according to its Web site.
The purpose of the program, according to Kaminski, is to present and discuss views that oppose the war from within Israel and the Jewish community in a pro-Israeli context.
Abuleish, who is not a supporter of Hamas, said many of the victims of the current ground war in Gaza are not Hamas members either.
“I think the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza, they are not Hamas now,” he said.
“For myself personally, I am against sending rockets. I am against attacks from both sides; this is not the right way. Only the citizen people are paying the price.”
In fact, Abuleish said Hamas should “tailor its agenda” to the demands of the international community trying to arrange a cessation of hostilities, while Israelis must acknowledge that Hamas and the Palestinian people are not one and the same.
Kaminski said the last time he talked to Abuleish — the two are longtime friends — Israeli tanks were close to his apartment.
Abuleish is no stranger to the Israeli and Jewish media. He has given interviews to Israel Defense Forces radio and has written stories for Jewish newspapers, including the New York Jewish Week.
“What we should focus on efforts that achieve progress,” he said, “instead of amity and more bloodshed.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)