By turns inspiring and heart-breaking, hopeful and horrifying, I Shall Not Hate is Izzeldin Abuelaish's account of an extraordinary life. A Harvard-trained Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and "who has devoted his life to medicine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians" (New York Times), Abuelaish has been crossing the lines in the sand that divide Israelis and Palestinians for most of his life - as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the line, as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East.Read more...
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By turns inspiring and heart-breaking, hopeful and horrifying, I Shall Not Hate is Izzeldin Abuelaish's account of an extraordinary life. A Harvard-trained Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and "who has devoted his life to medicine and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians" (New York Times), Abuelaish has been crossing the lines in the sand that divide Israelis and Palestinians for most of his life - as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the line, as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East. And, most recently, as the father whose daughters were killed by Israeli soldiers on January 16, 2009, during Israel's incursion into the Gaza Strip. His response to this tragedy made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, Abuelaish called for the people in the region to start talking to each other. His deepest hope is that his daughters will be "the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-10-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Born in a refugee camp in 1955, Palestinian physician Abuelaish suffers a catastrophic loss when three of his daughters are killed in their home by Israeli fire in 2009. An Israeli television journalist's live broadcast of his call for help captures Israeli public and world press attention. "Most of the world has heard of the Gaza Strip," as Abuelaish says, "ut few know what it's like to live here, blockaded, impoverished, year after year, decade after decade." Abuelaish portrays everyday life in Gaza and tells the remarkable story of how he came to be "the first Palestinian doctor to be on staff at an Israeli hospital." The "tortured politics of Palestine, Israel, and the Middle East" are rendered graphic by his personal accounts of "the humiliation, the fear, the physical difficulty" of border checkpoints and bulldozed homes. Abuelaish tells of the "satisfying, even wonderful" moments, "the good chapter of a bad story," as well; an infertility specialist, he is as "thoroughly smitten" with his research as he is appalled that "Gaza hospitals are rundown and can't be repaired because of an embargo is preposterous." Abuelaish knows anger, but in this impassioned, committed attempt to show the reader life on the sliver of land that is Gaza, he demonstrates that "nger is not the same as hate." (Jan.)
Doctor's cure for hatred
On January 16, 2009, as the three-week-long Israeli Army assault on the Gaza Strip that was intended to stop Hamas rocket attacks was winding down, an explosion ripped through a bedroom in the apartment of Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish.
With his oldest daughter, Dr. Abuelaish rushed to the bedroom and discovered his 17-year-old daughter gravely wounded and his 15-year-old daughter decapitated. Moments later, as he ran to the street for help, another Israeli tank round slammed into the house, killing his oldest daughter, her 14-year-old sister and a cousin. The distraught doctor called an Israeli television reporter he knew, and their anguished conversation was broadcast live to the Israeli public.
This incident, retold in harrowing detail near the end of I Shall Not Hate, is the exclamation point in an eye-opening story of a remarkable person. Born in poverty in a Palestinian refugee camp after his family was forced from ancestral lands now owned by Ariel Sharon, Abuelaish seems to have been hard-working, ambitious and independent-minded almost from birth. At the age of 12, during the Six Day War in 1967, he discovered that “almost no one behaved the way I expected them to. . . . It made me more aware of what people say versus what they do.” At 15 years old, in the same year that he saw the Israeli army plow down his family’s modest home so their tanks could roll freely through the refugee camp, he worked on an Israeli farm where the family treated him fairly and showed him great kindness. Later, he became the first Palestinian doctor on staff at an Israeli hospital. “All of my adult life I have had one leg in Palestine and the other in Israel, an unusual stance in this region,” he writes.
All of this gives Abuelaish a truth-to-power authenticity in his depiction of the systematic humiliations visited upon residents of Gaza, even such a moderate and well-respected figure as the good doctor. Abuelaish can be repetitive and his prose is sometimes infelicitous, but oddly enough, the occasionally awkward writing often adds to the book’s power. Even more powerful, however, is Abuelaish’s persistent message of peace and his call for coexistence. Despite his unimaginable loss, he writes near the end of I Shall Not Hate, “To those who seek retaliation, I say, even if I got revenge on all the Israeli people, would it bring my daughters back? Hatred is an illness. It prevents healing and peace.”