ADC Mourns Loss of Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi
Washington, DC | September 27, 2007 | www.adc.org
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) mourns the loss ofDr. Haidar Abdel Shafi, a leading and highly respected figure in the Palestinian nationalist movement. Dr. Abdel Shafi, 88, a friend to ADC, passed away on September 25 in Gaza City after a long battle with stomach cancer. He is survived by his wife, four children, and seven grandchildren.
ADC National Executive Director Kareem Shora said, “Dr. Abdel Shafi dedicated his life to the Palestinian people. His contributions are immeasurable, the Palestinian people have lost a great intellectual, visionary, and advocate. His life and work will remain as an inspiration for all those working toward a just and lasting peace in Palestine.”
Dr. Abdel Shafi was born in Gaza City in 1919. Following his primary and secondary schooling in Gaza and Jerusalem, respectively, he then studied at the College of Medicine at the American University of Beirut. After the creation of Israel in 1948, he returned to the Gaza Strip to help provide medical care for the many thousands of Palestinians who had become refugees. During that time he co-founded the Arab Medical Society and participated in the first Palestine Medical Congress. He continued to help with humanitarian efforts and when the UNRWA was founded he left to study surgery at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.
Dr. Abdel Shafi co-founded and helped lead the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and served as the chairman of its First Executive Committee. He was also the founder and head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in the Gaza Strip. Perhaps best known internationally for leading the Palestinian delegation at the 1991 Madrid Peace tonference, he advocated for human rights and actively supported democracy in Palestine.
In 2002, he co-founded the Palestinian National Initiative (PNI) with Prof. Edward Said, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, and Mr. Ibrahim Dakkak. He was a humanitarian and an advocate for Palestinian liberation and national unity. In 1996, he was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council with the highest number of votes and in 1998 he initiated unity talks for all factions in Gaza. On April 8, 2007, President Mahmoud Abbas presented Dr. Abdel Shafi with the Palestinian Star of Honor in recognition of his extensive and distinguished service to the Palestinian people and for his role as a founding member and president of the PNI.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which is non sectarian and non partisan, is the largest Arab-American civil rights organization in the United States. It was founded in 1980, by former Senator James Abourezk to combat racial stereotyping and to protect the civil rights of people of Arab descent in the United States. ADC has 38 chapters nationwide, including chapters in every major city in the country, and members in all 50 states.