Currently, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish feels like a forgotten man.
From his Toronto home, he has watched with a grueling mixture of frustration, pain, and anger as Israel’s relentless persecution of Palestinians in occupied Palestine briefly crossed, once again, the complacent consciousness of Western political and media elites. only after an eruption of violence.
And he has waited for those same complacent Western political and media elites, who once met the Palestinian-Canadian doctor, professor, humanitarian and, perhaps most importantly, father with flattery, awards and honors, to heed his pleas for stop the sinister designs of Israel and heal the grave wounds of Palestine.
But few return their calls.
TV hosts and newspaper writers who once told poignant stories about how Dr. Abuelaish somehow transformed the murder of three of his daughters and a niece of the Israeli army during the 2009 invasion of Gaza in a message of hope and reconciliation that affirms life, they have largely abandoned it.
Politicians in Canada and abroad who christened him “King of the Middle East Martin Luther” and placed ornaments on Dr. Abuelaish’s lapel in recognition of his work to overcome hatred by building bridges based on understanding and friendship have also abandoned it.
Still, he has tried, in vain, to be heard amid the cacophonous terror and family horrors that Israel demanded of occupied Palestine for 11 relentless days.
On May 11, Dr. Abuelaish issued a press release to “government leaders and people around the world” that said, in part, “We can no longer accept silence in the face of atrocities against unarmed civilians … It’s it’s time to end the bloodshed, it’s time to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine. “
No one responded.
Earlier, Dr. Abuelaish had addressed the editors of the opinion pages of The Globe and Mail and The Guardian, hoping to publish his warning that the world should remain “deaf and dumb” for longer. in the face of the historical injustices that Israel visited the imprisoned Palestinians.
Again, no one responded.
“They don’t want to accompany me to tell the truth,” Dr. Abuelaish told me in an interview. “It is sad and hurt because silence in times of injustice is an injustice. But I will never give up.
True to his indefatigable nature and his constant sense of decency and humanity, Dr. Abuelaish persists.
Born in the Jabalia refugee camp in the far north of the besieged Gaza Strip, Dr. Abuelaish knows better than most the bitter, often lethal, costs that generations of Palestinians have had to bear as a result of Israeli apartheid. .
Dr. Abuelaish also knows, of course, better than most, that the children of occupied Palestine have paid the deepest and indelible price for the long, brutal, and systemic repression of Israel.
That is why, after the malicious Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014, it killed 551 Palestinian children and injured another 3,436 innocent people, many of them permanently, Dr. Abuelaish was determined to do something about it. to pay tribute to the memory of their dead, dismembered daughters, Bessan, Mayar, Aya and niece, Noor.
Working primarily alone, Dr. Abuelaish had the cooperation of Canadian unions, nurses, doctors, hospitals and politicians, including the then Prime Minister and Minister of Health of Ontario, to organize Heal100Kids, a humanitarian initiative to reach 100 children. of Gazan mutilated and traumatized in Canada for special medical assistance. and treatment.
Lots of Canadians, moved by Dr. Abuelaish’s obvious fidelity to trust in distrust, hope over despair, faith over resignation, love for hatred, and peace for war, offered volunteers to open their homes and wallets to make sure injured Palestinian children were welcomed and cared for. in Canada.
Among the apparently impressed and moved Canadians was then-Liberal Party opposition leader Justin Trudeau, who publicly expressed his sincere support for Dr. Abuelaish’s plan on his official Twitter account.
In a tweet on August 3, 2014, Trudeau encouraged Canadians to join him in defending Heal100Kids. “Please add your name to help Palestinian children receive medical treatment in Canada,” Trudeau he wrote to his legion of followers.
Two days later, Trudeau wrote another tweet, this time “applauding” Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and the province’s Liberal government “for their commitment to supporting the # Heal100Kids initiative.”
At the time, part of Trudeau’s strong rhetorical approval of Heal100Kids was no doubt calculated to establish his troubling credentials in contrast to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s shameful refusal to meet with Dr. Abuelaish and the denial of Dr. visas for broken Palestinian children and their families. come to canada.
The former theater teacher is adept at playing the role of a kind and considerate father.
It turns out that Trudeau’s endorsement of Heal100Kids was as cynical as it was empty.
In an opinion piece published on May 22, 2018, Dr. Abuelaish challenged Prime Minister Trudeau to keep his word and mobilize the resources and powers of his office to extend the hand of Canada in solidarity to Palestinian children in need. desperately.
“It is time to say yes, Prime Minister Trudeau. It is time to help alleviate the pain and suffering of only 100 Palestinian children. It’s time that, if I may, walk through the talk and make the words you wrote a few years ago come true. It’s time to dump her and move on. It’s time to do something now and tangible. It is the time of such a necessary measure of kindness and decency, in the midst of all the ugly human carnage. It’s time, “Dr. Abuelaish wrote.
Trudeau’s response: three years of silence and inaction.
Like most Palestinians, Dr. Abuelaish is a patient man. His patience has dried up. Today he understands that the Prime Minister’s support for Heal100Kids appears as ephemeral as a puff of smoke.
“It simply came to our notice then. It’s a big lie, “Dr. Abuelaish told me.
In fact it is.
To try to understand the reasons behind the Prime Minister’s huge repetition, I contacted Trudeau Press Secretary Alex Wellstead earlier this week, requesting an interview to discuss Dr. Abuelaish and Heal100Kids.
This was Wellstead’s sad and instructive response: “I am not familiar with this initiative. You could share more information and where it intersects with the federal government … “
In short: Wellstead and, by extension, the Prime Minister, have forgotten all about Dr. Abuelaish and Heal100Kids.
Trudeau’s press secretary later declined to be interviewed. “Have a nice day,” he wrote in an email.
I can think of no more graphic accusation against this dummy prime minister and his government than his predictable mass amnesia over the Herculean efforts of a Nobel Peace Prize nominee to help Palestinian children recover, in mind , body and spirit, of the trauma of war.
Maybe Trudeau and company will want to forget, but the numbers are terrible.
More than 60 Palestinian babies and children they were killed and hundreds of seriously injured and orphaned before the ceasefire was declared days ago. On Thursday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the carnage as follows: “If there is one hell on earth, it is the lives of children in Gaza.”
Despite his burning sadness, Dr. Abuelaish insists that the international community must force Israel to end its illegal and debilitating occupation of Palestine eventually.
He says Prime Minister Trudeau should agree to revive the Heal100Kids initiative as an open signal of Canada’s common goodwill and humanity with the besieged Palestinians.
“Mr Trudeau can finally translate his words into action and say, we are ready to reactivate this initiative and cure the children who need to be cured,” Dr Abuelaish said. “It’s their moral responsibility.”
The question remains: will Justin Trudeau remember acting this time?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.