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CoastLine: Palestinian-American on his culture and why he started rescuing animals in the West Bank (Rebroadcast from December 19, 2023)

Maad Abu-Ghazalah in his West Bank animal sanctuary, Daily Hugz.
Maad Abu-Ghazalah in his West Bank animal sanctuary, Daily Hugz.

"Mahatma Gandi said the way you measure a society is how they treat the weakest in the society."

Maad Abu-Ghazalah says this is why he started rescuing abused and abandoned dogs and donkeys in the West Bank. As a Palestinian-American with family still there, he explores his culture and his hopes for peace.

In the middle part of the 20th century, a pregnant Palestinian woman living in Saudi Arabia returned to Nablus, the largest city in her home country, to give birth to her son. She returned to Saudi Arabia to raise him in an English-speaking, largely American enclave. But Maad Abu-Ghazalah returned to Palestine each summer to stay with family in the West Bank.

He attended high school in England, and college in the United States – earning a bachelor’s degree in math at Notre Dame, a master’s in computer science from the University of Virginia, and his law degree from Santa Clara University in California.

When terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, Maad Abu-Ghazalah, a Palestinian-American citizen, decided to run for a congressional seat in California. If a political campaign with a third-party candidate could go viral back then, that’s how he describes what happened. He opposed the idea of going to war with Iraq, and he wanted to demonstrate to fellow Muslim-Americans that they didn’t need to be ashamed of their heritage.

Maad Abu-Ghazalah in an ABC interview with Alina Cho during his Congressional campaign
Maad Abu-Ghazalah in an ABC interview with Alina Cho during his Congressional campaign

In an ABC News interview with then-anchor Alina Cho, he said, “This country has to make a decision about the kind of country it wants to be.”

As a lawyer, he wrote software for patent attorneys and sold off his company in 2012.

By 2014, he had purchased an olive grove in the West Bank and was launching a nonprofit to rescue abandoned and abused animals from the streets there.

In this episode, we hear about his reasons for rescuing animals first when others were urging him to donate to existing NGOs that helped people. We also find out why he moved to Wilmington in the summer of 2023. And we learn a little bit about Palestinian culture and why it’s so important to him to preserve it.


Maad Abu-Ghazalah on YouTube

Daily Hugz Animal Sanctuary

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.