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Choose Humanity Over Politics

September 4, 2014

by Ginella Massa

I've never really been into politics. That statement may surprise some considering I work in news. I got into broadcast news because I love storytelling – bringing the stories of interesting characters to life through the use of sound and video. But when it comes to the back and forth of political debate, I could go without.

Throughout university, I would often roll my eyes at my older sister, a political science major, who managed to turn every conversation into a political discussion. “Why do you always have to bring it back to politics?” I would sigh. “Because everything is political,” she would say.

When the conflict between Israel and Gaza broke out this summer, it became exhausting to scroll through Facebook and Twitter. I don’t pretend to know the nuances of this ongoing conflict, and the constant barrage of information from those justifying the actions of either side was enough to make my head spin. But the one thing I couldn’t ignore were the pictures of innocent children who had lost their entire families, whose homes has been demolished, and who were left suffering from life-changing injuries because of a war that they had nothing to do with.

With a ceasefire taking hold, the spotlight on Gaza has wavered. But while the conflict has fallen off the news cycle, the suffering of those affected continues. Victims must try to piece together their homes, their families, and their lives.

When I read about Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, I was especially moved by his story. Originally from Palestine, he had lost 3 daughters in an Israeli airstrike in 2008, just months after losing his wife to cancer. Now, he wanted to bring 100 injured children from Gaza to get medical treatment in Canada. All he needed was the federal government to approve their visas.

Last night I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Abulaish in person, who had just returned from a trip to Gaza. Though I knew of his story, hearing the words directly from him held a new weight. He told us about the things he had seen in the last few weeks -- children who were the sole survivors of their families, victims who had to have their limbs amputated, hospitals without even running water or electricity, let alone sophisticated medical equipment to treat patients. He explained that it wasn’t realistic to send doctors there because the medical infrastructures had been destroyed. And he already had the logistics in place here -- doctors ready to help, hospitals offering their resources, and families opening their homes for the victims. All that was needed was a rubber stamp from Ottawa.

Dr. Abuelaish spoke about why he was taking this challenge on: for his daughters. “I will never rest or relax,” he said. “I will never forget my daughters who were killed for nothing. We need to give these children the life they want and the future they deserve.”

What struck me most was Dr. Abuelaish’s attitude. Here was one person who had every reason in the world to have hatred and anger in his heart, but he didn’t. Though he had lost so much, he remained hopeful, and determined. “I came to Canada because I was told they value children. Now it’s time to prove it,” he said. “It’s not about ethnicity or religious reasons. Let’s do this under one maple leaf flag.” Canada would not be the first to help victims from Gaza -– Egypt, Turkey and Venezuela are just some of the countries that have taken in these children of war.

Listening to Dr. Abuelaish, I felt compelled to play my part in helping make this happen. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t have any medical expertise to offer. But I can share his story. I hope that Canadians will read about him and offer support for his cause in whatever capacity they can -- whether it’s through their medical experience, offering a spare bedroom, contacting their local MP, giving a monetary donation, signing their name to Dr. Abulaish’s petition, or simply sharing his story.

Not everything has to be political (sorry, sis). Let’s not let politics get in the way of our humanity.

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About the Author

Ginella Massa is a Canadian journalist, producer, and media trainer. She became Canada's first Hijab-wearing reporter in 2015. Ginella  has worked for CityNews, CTV News, Rogers TV, and NEWSTALK 1010.  She frequently writes about issues affecting Muslims in North America. 

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