Palestinian American doctor from Chicago explains why he walked out of meeting with President Biden

Dr. Thaer Ahmad traveled to Gaza earlier this year; he and others presented during a meeting with Biden Tuesday

Leah Hope Image
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Chicago doctor explains why he walked out of meeting with president
Dr. Thaer Ahmad traveled to Gaza earlier this year amid the Israel-Hamas war. He and others were supposed to have an Iftar dinner with Biden.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Palestinian American doctor, who lives in Chicago, is explaining why he walked out of a meeting with President Joe Biden Tuesday.

He had traveled to Gaza earlier this year with a medical team to work in the city.

Dr. Thaer Ahmad was among the MedGlobal doctors who presented during a meeting with the president Tuesday evening.

ABC7 Chicago met with Dr. Ahmad before their January humanitarian medical mission to Gaza.

"I spoke first, and let them know I am from a community that is reeling. We are grieving," said Ahmad, a MedGlobal board member, on CNN.

After sharing what he saw in Gaza with the president, Dr. Ahmad left the meeting, citing he was the only Palestinian American at the table.

SEE MORE: Chicago area doctors return from Gaza after volunteering during Israel-Hamas war

"Out of respect for my community, out of respect for the people who have suffered and who have been killed in the process, I need to walk out of the meeting, and I wanted to walk out with decision makers and let them know what it feels like for somebody to say something, and walk away and not hearing them out," Ahmad said.

Dr. Zaher Sahloul is back in the Chicago area after a meeting with the president and his fellow MedGlobal volunteers Tuesday.

"As a humanitarian, I feel that it's my responsibility to tell the story as I am witnessing in Gaza, and I promised the doctors and patients I saw in Gaza: I'm going to convey their message to the highest level," Sahloul said.

While Dr. Sahloul said he supports Dr. Ahmad, he wants MedGlobal to be a voice for all those they serve around the world.

Dr. Sahloul said they asked the president to use his power to bring peace to Gaza and supplies and services to the people.

"We are appreciative for the White House, for the opportunity to share inside. They listened, they gave remarks, they asked questions, and I hope that this is helpful in the decision making process," Sahloul said.

The original invitation was for the meeting with Muslim Americans to breakfast and have Iftar for Ramadan at the White House.

But the participants refused to eat, as they talked about famine and people dying.