Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

From a family’s tragedy, aid for Mideastern students

Jonathan Kolber, left, has donated to Daughters for Life, set up by Izzeldin Abuelaish.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

The Donor: Jonathan Kolber

The Gift: $200,000

The Cause: Daughters for Life Foundation

Story continues below advertisement

The Reason: To promote the advancement of girls and women in the Middle East

A couple of years ago, Jonathan Kolber was about to go on a business trip to Russia when a colleague suggested a book for the flight: I Shall Not Hate.

It's the story of Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who worked in Israel and lost his three daughters during a raid in Gaza by the Israeli army.

The attack happened in 2009 just as Dr. Abuelaish and the children were about to emigrate to Canada, where he was to take up a post at the University of Toronto.

He had lost his wife to leukemia a few months earlier and saw Canada as a good place to raise his children.

Out of that tragedy Dr. Abuelaish created Daughters for Life, a Canadian-based charity that promotes health, education and leadership training for girls across the Middle East.

Mr. Kolber, who co-owns Toronto-based International Language Academy of Canada, couldn't put the book down.

Story continues below advertisement

"What [Dr. Abuelaish] wanted to do was create a charity to educate Middle Eastern women. That's how society is going to change," Mr. Kolber recalled.

"That was something that was really powerful for me."

Immediately after returning home from the business trip, he got some colleagues together and went to meet Dr. Abuelaish with an offer to help.

Mr. Kolber eventually committed $200,000 worth of scholarships and financial aid through ILAC to help Daughters for Life bring students to Canada to learn English and pursue their education.

Mr. Kolber said meeting Dr. Abuelaish was an inspiration.

"He really gave me the feeling that we can make big changes in the world ourselves," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

"This just started with an idea from me waking up after reading his book, and now I feel like I want to do more than I initially thought."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at