Global Reading Challenge ~ Country # 83) Palestine

From Amazon: Heart-breaking, hopeful and horrifying, I Shall Not Hate is a Palestinian doctor’s inspiring account of his extraordinary life, growing up in poverty but determined to treat his patients in Gaza and Israel regardless of their ethnic origin.
A London University – and 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 is an infertility specialist who lives in Gaza but works in Israel. On the strip of land he calls home (where 1.5 million Gazan refugees are crammed into a few square miles) the Gaza doctor 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 three daughters were killed by Israeli shells on 16 January 2009, during Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip. It was his response to this tragedy that made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, Izzeldin 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’.

I try to stay up-to-date with current events/World Politics & follow the situation in Palestine/Israel quite closely. As part of my Global Reading Challenge, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at both sides of the Gaza Issue & so decided to read I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish.

I Shall Not Hate is an amazing story of one man’s fight to show Palestinians & Israelis that they are more alike than not, that they are both people who deserve to be recognised by the international community & that they can live peacefully side by side. Abuelaish was born and raised in the Jabalia Refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, after his parents made the decision to abandon their land, and head to Gaza for their safety. He was raised surrounded by poverty, working from the time he was old enough to, because as the oldest son that was what he was expected to do, to help feed the family. Despite all the odds against him – poverty, having to work while going to school, wars, hunger, etc – he rose above it all to become a doctor, determined to do everything in his power to help his family & his people.

I started this book a fair while ago & initially I found it hard to get in to – but I am so glad that I persevered. I admire Dr. Abuelaish for his amazing outlook on how things are in Gaza & his belief that there is a solution to the crisis between Israel & Palestine. I am not sure that I could have gone through the humiliating things that he was forced to go through & still feel the way he does. Dr. Abuelaish firmly believes that through medicine he can teach people that the Israelis & Palestinians are not so different, that they are more alike than they realise.

There is a phrase in his book which I think really sums up the path the leaders of the world need to take to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Gaza.

It says: Trust in the Middle East is such a rare commodity today; it’s gasping for air. The thing is, you cannot ask people to coexist by having one side bow their heads and rely on a solution that is only good for the other side. What you can do is stop blaming each other and engage in dialogue with one person at a time.

Is this a possibility? If we find more people on both sides who think like Dr. Abuelaish, then yes, I think there is a chance at peace in the Middle East as a whole & between Israel & Palestine in particular.

I think anyone who cares about the state of the world should read this book & maybe we’ll all learn a little something & maybe that little something can lead us all to respect each other, work together & co-exist – peacefully.

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