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I Shall Not Hate

The need for understanding between Palestinians and Israelis is stressed in a new memoir

By Miriam Spies

I Shall Not Hate
By Izzeldin Abuelaish
(Random House) $32

On Jan. 16, 2009, Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor living in the Gaza Strip, decided to move his family and start a new life in Toronto. That same day, Israeli shells hit his home, killing three of his daughters,  as well as a niece. With violence and tragedy all around — the 2009 invasion killed about 1,300 Palestinians — he responded with uncommon forebearance, pledging, “I shall not hate.”

In this powerful memoir, Abuelaish stresses the need for understanding between Palestinians and Israelis.

Abuelaish grew up in the Jabalia refugee camp, where he dreamed of becoming a doctor. He left to study abroad, then returned to his homeland, where he was called “The Gaza Doctor,” becoming a well-known gynecologist and obstetrician who worked in Israel and the West Bank.

Though Abuelaish’s world is foreign to most readers, he vividly describes the pain and struggle of daily life in the  Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million people are crammed into 360 square kilometres, surrounded by security walls and  checkpoints.

Personal stories relating to this well-known conflict are not often heard in news coverage. In one section, Abuelaish shares the positive impact of an Israeli family who employed him in his teenage years and treated him like a son. Recounting interactions with his Israeli patients, he calls for greater communication and trust between people in the divided region.  

Abuelaish’s hope for the future is unshakeable and inspiring. Simply talk to each other is his plea. He leaves the reader with a deep hope that the deaths of his daughters and niece will be the last sacrifice in the journey to peace.

Miriam Spies is a journalism student at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Author's photo
Miriam Spies will be blogging daily about Rendez-vous 2011 from now until Aug. 15.
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