Sunday, February 27, 2011

Starred Review-I Shall Not Hate, by Izzeldin Abuelaish

A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity
by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Walker and Company
January 4, 2011
$24.00, 256pp.

My Review

Many times I have asked myself, if there was a person I would like to meet, who would it be? After reading I Shall Not Hate, I can honestly say I would consider myself blessed if I were ever to meet Izzeldin Abuelaish. Dr. Abuelaish was born in 1955. He lived in Gaza, a Palestinian forced to live in a refugee camp that was under a blockade, a highly restrictive environment. He grew up living in extreme poverty but his dream was to become a doctor. He pursued education with an unwavering determination. He is now a highly respected doctor and specialist in his field. He also received a masters degree in public health from Harvard. When he lived in Gaza he worked in Israel, an unusual scenario being a Palestinian. On top of this his daily border crossing commute to work was arduous and exhaustive.

Until I read this book, I would not have realized the incredible obstacles he faced each day in order to practice medicine in an Israeli hospital. That he was deeply committed to helping his patients, regardless of their nationality and religious beliefs becomes evident. He is an infertility expert and he also works promoting women’s education.
Dr. Abuelaish has an enormous heart of compassion and the Hippocratic oath is embedded in his credo. It is so inherent that he sees medicine as the bridge and the example of lasting peace. Yet, this is not what makes this man so remarkable.

His book, I Shall Not Hate, is more than a title on a cover, it is his life’s canon. Three of his daughters, Aya, Bessan, and Mayar and his niece Noor were killed when an Israeli tank decimated his home in Gaza. Other members of his family were seriously wounded and getting them to a hospital was a monumental challenge. His words, his desperate pleas and cries shortly after the attack and discovery were broadcast live on Israeli television and captured on You Tube.

I ask myself, “Why does Dr. Abuelaish not hate?” To answer that you need to read his book. I can’t even begin to feel or describe his pain, it is so terrifying and unimaginable.

In his words:
“Hate is a chronic disease, and we need to heal ourselves of it and work toward a world in which we eradicate poverty and suffering. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich from hating one another.

First, we must join together to fight our mutual enemy, which is our ignorance of each other. We must smash and destroy the mental and physical barriers within each of us and between us. We must speak and move forward to achieve our brighter future; we are all living in one boat, and any harm to some people in this boat puts us all in danger of drowning. We must stop blaming each other and adopt the values of our, us and we.” ~Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish (pg. 230)

Dr. Abuelaish is a brave and sensitive crusader of peace and human rights. His reflective and emotional memoir shows deep despair, yet it also reveals his inspirationally optimistic outlook to forging peace and understanding. Highly recommended as a 2011 memoir to read.

His website and foundation can be found at:

Walker and Company

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by Library Thing as part of the Early Reviewer program. This review is my unbiased honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2008-2011].

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