Excerpt of I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish
(Page 3 of 8)
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The acts of violence committed by the Palestinians are expressions
of the frustration and rage of a people who feel impotent
and hopeless. The primitive and cheap Qassam is actually the
most expensive rocket in the world when you consider the
consequences - the life-altering repercussions it has created on
both sides of the divide and on the Palestinians in particular.
The disproportionate reaction by the institutionalized military
powers causes loss of innocent lives, demolishes houses and
farms; nothing is spared, and nothing is sacred.
I've lived with this tension in varying degrees throughout my
life, and have always done my utmost to succeed, despite the
limits our circumstances have imposed on us. I was born in the
Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza in 1955, the oldest of six brothers
and three sisters, and our lives were never easy. But even
as a child I always had hope for a better tomorrow. As a child,
I knew that education was a privilege: something sacred and
the key to many possibilities. I remember holding on tightly
to my books the same as a mother cat would hold on to her
newborn kittens, protecting my most valuable possessions with
my life, in spite of any destruction that might have been going
on around me. I loaned those treasures to my brothers and even
some friends who were younger than I was. But before I did so,
I let them know that they better take care of them as though
they were their own most treasured possessions. I still have all
those books today.
Through hard work, constant striving, and the rewards that
come to a believer, I became a doctor. However, it wouldn't
have been possible without the tremendous, untiring efforts of
my parents and the rest of my family, who altruistically sacrificed everything, even though they had nothing, to support
me throughout my time of studying. When I went to medical
school in Cairo, they worried because I would be far away
from them. Would I have enough to eat? Would I find our
traditional foods? My favorite cookies; my favorite Palestinian
spices; olives and olive oil? My mother would send these things
with Gazans who came to visit Egypt. Sometimes I would
receive packages of clothing, soap, apples, tea, coffee - all of
which I needed, but also some of my favorite things. My family
recognized my deep desire to make a better life for everyone
and wanted to invest in me with very high hopes that I could
help all of us. After medical school, I got a diploma in obstetrics
and gynecology from the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in
collaboration with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology
at the University of London. Later, beginning in June 1997, I
undertook a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Soroka
hospital in Israel, becoming the first Palestinian doctor to be
on staff at an Israeli hospital. Then I studied fetal medicine and
genetics at the V. Buzzi hospital in Milan, Italy, and the Erasme
hospital in Brussels, Belgium, and became an infertility specialist.
After that I realized that if I was going to make a larger
difference for the Palestinian people, I needed management
and policy-making skills, so I enrolled in a master's program
in public health (health policy and management) at Harvard
University. Then I worked as a senior researcher at the Gertner
Institute in the Sheba hospital in Israel.
All of my adult life I have had one leg in Palestine and the
other in Israel, an unusual stance in this region. Whether delivering
babies, helping couples overcome infertility, or researching
the effect of health care on poor populations versus rich ones,
or the impact on populations with access to medical help versus
populations without access, I have long felt that medicine
can bridge the divide between people and that doctors can be
messengers of peace.
I didn't arrive at this conclusion lightly. I was born in a refugee
camp, grew up as a refugee, and have submitted myself on
a weekly basis to the humiliation of checkpoints and the frustrations
and endless delays that come with crossing into and
out of Gaza. But I maintain that revenge and counter-revenge
are suicidal, that mutual respect, equality, and coexistence are
the only reasonable way forward, and I firmly believe that the
vast majority of people who live in this region agree with me.
Even though I could feel immense trouble coming our way in
December 2008 - an even broader threat to our sense of security
than Nadia's death - these ideas were playing on my mind
as I watched my children romping in the waves.
Excerpted from I Shall Not Hate
by Izzeldin Abuelaish. Copyright © 2011 by Izzeldin Abuelaish.
Excerpted by permission of Walker & Company. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.