Article Title: A Book Review: 'I Shall Not Hate' by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
Submitted by: Craig Lock
Category/Subject: Book, Book Recommendations, Book Review, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, I Shall Not Hate, Powerful, Reading, Review, The Gaza Doctor, Inspiration, Inspirational Stories

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A Book Review: I Shall Not Hate by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

June 23, 2010

tags: Book, Book Recommendations, Book Review, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, I Shall Not Hate, Powerful, Reading, Review, The Gaza Doctor

by LR

I’m not really sure where to start in reviewing the novel, “I Shall Not Hate” because it’s so breath-taking that I had to take a couple of days to write a post worthy of this book. If you take anything from this post, I urge you to take your time in reading this memoir and spend time understanding the message that Dr. Abuelaish is trying to convey to readers in his call for peace in third world countries.

If you’re Canadian, you know, as well as me that crossing the border into the United States can be tedious and long, but after hearing the troubles that Dr. Abueelaish had to go through each time he’d try to leave his home in Gaza or enter back into it, you’ll never complain again. Picture being questioned continuously, being refused entry into a country where you’re going to be attending to others health, but can’t get there in time, picture spending a 10 hour day at the border almost every week. This was what a day in the life of Dr. Abuleaish was like when commuting between his home town of Gaza into Israel to work at a Israeli hospital. Dr. Abuelaish (also known as the “Gaza doctor”) is Palestinian but worked weekly at an Israel hospital, because he believed that the war between the two countries was a senseless war.

His memoir tells the story of his family and the struggles that they endured while living in the city of Gaza. To give you an indication of the map of this part of the third world country:

As you can see, the Gaza strip is on the border of Israel and when the Israeli troops launched an attack on Gaza residents, sadly 3 of Dr. Abuelaish’s daughters were killed, as well as his niece when a shell was launched into their home. I cried the whole time I read the passage about what happened to their family, about the emotions that Dr. Auelaish and his children must have felt seeing their siblings/daughters die in an instant.

Throughout all the pain and tragedy, Dr. Izzeldin still believes that there can be peace among the two countries and that the feeling of hate should be non-existent. He’s been quoted as saying,

If I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, then I would accept their loss

Imagine how hard it would be to forgive someone who tore your family apart, imagine having the courage and the strength to say that if his tragedy inspired the war to end, then he would be okay with what happened to his daughters. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish sounds like an incredible man who clearly puts others needs before his own.

Buy a box of kleenex (preferably the lotion infused kind) and read this informative and educational memoir about a selfless man and his families experiences during a middle east war.


Izzeldin Abuelaish: I Shall Not Hate

Rachel Cooke in The Observer:


For the duration of the war, the Israeli government allowed no journalists to enter Gaza; they could only gather on the border, and listen to the shelling. But Abuelaish knew plenty of Israelis – thanks to his work as an infertility specialist, he had worked in several Israeli hospitals – and among his many friends on the other side was Shlomi Eldar, a reporter for Israel's Channel 10. Eldar began calling Abuelaish late every afternoon to ask what had happened during the course of the day. Live on air, his friend would then describe the scene – from the vantage point of his living room window, he could see entire neighbourhoods being obliterated – for the benefit of viewers of the evening news show. Abuelaish knew that his audience was not likely to be particularly sympathetic to his point of view. Most Israelis believed the Gazans had brought this crisis on themselves. He also knew that there was a chance that someone on his own side would take against his addressing Israel, and that this might involve reprisals against his family, but he kept taking the calls. "With my voice in their ears, the Israelis couldn't entirely ignore the cost to the Palestinians of their military action."

Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish is a disarming figure. Born in Gaza and living for years in Israel – he’s now in Canada with his children – his recent tour to United States unleashed a tirade of abuse by The Angry Arab (“he is not very bright” etc).

After spending time with the Dr yesterday here in Jaipur, India at the international literature festival as well as conducting a formal in-conversation with him, it’s hard not to be impressed with his determination and passion. And he’s no apologist for the Zionist state.

He regularly speaks in platitudes, against hatred and violence and in support of peace. During our public talk, I pushed him on some key points. He appeared ambivalent about boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as a way for Israelis to recognise they had to “change” their behaviour (he neither supported it nor directly opposed it). He seemed to have no problem with a one-state solution though his ideal would be a two-state equation. He didn’t believe in talking about “them” and “us” but “we”, a joint existence between Israelis and Palestinians. Such thinking makes a two-state solution hard to imagine. He talked strongly about the reality of occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. He dislikes the major Palestinian parties though says both the PA and Hamas are from the people.

In his book, I Shall Not Hate, he includes a photo with himself and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak over a decade ago. These days, he can’t even get the Israelis to apologise for killing his kids. “They sent me a letter saying my children were ‘collateral damage’. They were not objects but human beings. This is not acceptable.” He is now suing Israel “because I have no choice, what else can I do?”

Abuelaish cried throughout our session when talking about his children, their loss and how he avoids hating those who murdered them. His Muslim faith helps him. The audience – hundreds of people, mainly Indians and foreigners – were visibly moved and many sobbed with him. I had to hold back tears.

But the Dr is clearly seen as a threat to the Israeli image. Once welcomed into the Zionist state, allowed to work there and move amongst Jews, these days he seems to feel more pity for them. “Even when I was working in Israel, I met very few people who really wanted to understand what us Palestinians were going through.”

I spoke to an Israeli here last night about the session and she said she had felt almost frustration with his performance. But when we discussed why, she revealed that it was simply because she found it hard to understand how he didn’t have more anger towards Israel than he appeared to have. We wondered if he was almost exploiting his children by constantly travelling the world and speaking about their deaths. But we agreed not; for him, it seems to a message that Israelis and Palestinians can live together, if only the politicians left the equation.

I asked the Dr what happens if Israel continues on its current fascist path and increases the pressure on civil society and Palestinians. What happens if more Israeli Jews just don’t care about their Arab brothers and sisters. Surely then, I argued, BDS is really the only way forward. He agreed.

He welcomed the warm response he is receiving across the US during his current book tour. He said that the Jewish Diaspora had to stop the “blindness” towards Israel and “open their hearts”. He believed that many American Jews were doing just that.

Although Elie Wiesel endorses his book – a curious choice of a man who has spent a lifetime caring about many human rights abuses except Israeli oppression – Abuelaish sends a powerful message. Not because I completely agree with everything he says – personally, I don’t see how Israel will ever shift unless it feels serious economic and psychological pain – but hearing an intelligent and articulate Palestinian remains all too rare in the Zionist defending Western media.



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Shared by craig ("just a warrior/writer for a better and more peaceful world")

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Author's Bio: 

About the submitter:
In his various writings, little by little, one mind, one heart, one soul at a time, Craig strives to break down and economic, social, cultural and religious barriers through attempting to build dialogue and understanding. Craig believes that whilst we should celebrate our differences, what we share in the form of our common humanity is way more important than what divides us.
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”Together, one mind, one soul at a time, let’s see how many hearts can be transformed from hatred into love…

with God’s help"