Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish - now known simply as the "Gaza doctor" - captured hearts and headlines around the world in the aftermath of horrific tragedy: On January 16, 2009, Israeli shells hit his home in the Gaza Strip, killing three of his daughters and his niece.
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."
Sand and Sky
It was as close to heaven and as far from hell as I could get
that day, an isolated stretch of beach just two and a half miles
from the misery of Gaza City, where waves roll up on the shore
as if to wash away yesterday and leave a fresh start for tomorrow.
We probably looked like any other family at the beach - my two sons and six daughters, a few cousins and uncles and aunts - the kids frolicking in the water, writing their names in the sand, calling to each other over the onshore winds. But like most things in the Middle East, this picture-perfect gathering was not what it seemed. I'd brought the family to the beach to find some peace in the middle of our grief. It was December 12, 2008, just twelve short weeks since my wife, Nadia, had died from acute leukemia, leaving our eight children motherless, the youngest of them, our son Abdullah, only six years old. She'd been diagnosed and then died in only two weeks. Her death left us shocked,...
I Shall Not Hate is without doubt a book with a powerful message. Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's thesis is clear and runs through every chapter of the book. Violence is futile, he writes. It is a waste of time, lives, and resources, and has been proven only to beget more violence. It does not work. He emphasizes the need for those in conflict to talk to, listen to, and respect each other, and it is to these themes that the author returns again and again. While his arguments are aimed squarely at the Israelis and Palestinians, their underlying truth is universal.
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1219 words).
The Gaza Strip is the smaller of the two Palestinian territories (the West Bank being the larger). It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea on the east, and by Egypt in the southwest, with Israel surrounding it on all other sides. It is just 25 miles long and 7.5 miles across at its widest (map). This narrow strip of land is home to approximately 1.6 million people who are mostly Sunni Muslim. While the population is highly literate (92% of residents can read), over two-thirds are considered refugees, unemployment is approximately 40% (2010), and about 70% live below the poverty line (2009).
The area's present boundaries were formed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, but human settlement dates back at least 5000 years....
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