Jennifer's Reviews > I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity

I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish
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's review
Sep 28, 2011

it was amazing
Read from September 24 to 29, 2011

For me, this book was devastating in its effect. Izzeldin Abuelaish is clearly brilliant: as one of only about 6 Gazan boys to obtain a scholarship to study medicine in Egypt, and following it up during the rest of his life with numerous other sought after positions and grants to work overseas and with the UN; these things are amazing not only in that they were offered to one man, but also in that he was able to take them up, in the impossible circumstances with which he grappled where he lived, on the Gaza strip in Israel.

But it is the shining morality of this man which dazzles me. Through all the opportunities that were presented to him, Abuelaish refused to abandon his homeland or his people. Though faced with frustrations which would break anyone, just in leaving his camp to go to work each day, having to pass through erratic border crossings and be at the mercy of petty and power hungry and ignorant guards daily and despite plenty of opportunities to take himself and his family away from the deprivation and fear and potential-sapping environment in which he found himself, Abuelaish continued to love his country and to wish to remain a Palestinian, and to try to make a difference to the lives of his own people. He leaves us in no doubt that he is sensitive to the humiliations he is forced to endure each day, and that his pain is raw and searing for his people.

He is aware of the different way of life which exists outside the refugee camps, having studied at Harvard and lived in London for his studies, and he mourns the enforced separations from his family his commuting to work force upon him (a short car trip from his home in a normal country: often an impossible or multi hours endurance test in Israel) but above all, he refuses to hate - he makes his life as liveable as it can be, and he tries to influence for good as many people as he can. He and his wife send his daughters to camps in which they are brought into contact with Israeli children their own age, to break down the barriers of hate which can so easily build up when disenfranchised and deprived of human dignity because of your race by another people. They give speeches and are elected as leaders. He describes his experiences with generous, warm Israelis as a child and as a doctor, which led him to the realisation that, despite the actions of their governments, they have more in common with his people than they have differences.

Abuelaish refuses not only to hate, he refuses the simplistic prejudice of race against race, in order to raise children whose teachers fight to have them in their classes because they are so motivated and visionary in a world shrunk down to damaged souls. When some of his children are decapitated and otherwise blown to pieces in his house during the Gazan attack of 2008 and he is asked if he hates the Israelis now, he replies " but which of them should I hate?" He refuses to generalise his grief into prejudice, or allow it to stand as a barrier to understanding.

After these experiences, the doctor decided to protect his remaining children and live in Canada for a while, to allow them to realise their potential. But he leaves us in no doubt that he will return to Gaza. He is beginning to believe that the way forward is through women, who seem better equipped to love, and has started a charity to educate girls in the refugee camps, as in circumstances of deprivation their education is often overlooked.

I commend you to this website which tells in 10 minutes as a news piece the story of what happened to him that day, if you can bear it, and to here: to donate to his charity. There is also an excellent and inspirational interview with Abuelaish, which was how I first found out about him, here:


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