Saturday, 31 March 2012

Izzeldin Abuelaish's I shall not hate

Written by Sylvia ...

'I shall not hate' takes the reader on a journey through the life of Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish. He is a Palestinian fertility specialist who has always believed that Palestinians and Israelis have many similarities and they have to live peacefully together. For instance he says that they are both forthright and emotional people who love talking.

This book talks about the author's childhood in a Palestinian refugee camp and his experiences studying and working in foreign countries.  The central core is the description of the tragic deaths of his wife from cancer and his three elder daughters from an Israeli bomb, all of which happened in 2008 and 2009.  Dr Abuelaish relates the death details right in the beginning of the book so the reader is aware of the situation in which he is writing and feeling. We did not find that this diminished our interest in completing the book however as we all felt that it was compelling reading. The repetition could be explained through Dr Abuelaish's training as a scientist or he may have felt it was necessary from a cultural perspective.  

The section in the book describing his hardships of working to support his family and study very hard was really powerfully written and without indulging in sentimentality. The oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli state is very hard for Australians to fathom. Many of us felt that we did not know enough about the various wars between the countries and their reasons for such hatred to understand the complexity of life which Dr Abuelaish was describing.

Another area we felt handicapped through lack of knowledge was in the ways that Arab states have helped or hindered the Palestinians in their quest for a state. When Dr Abuelaish was writing this book the various areas of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank) had barriers between them in their negotiations. It is good that in 2012 they are now talking.
The details of his wife's final hours and Dr Abuelaish's physical and emotional trials in order to see her was excruciating reading  -- these passages will stay in our memories for a long time.    
There are no words for the sadness of the bombing of innocent children. Was Dr Abuelaish's house targetted ? It is impossible to say but he does seem to think so. Even so he will not seek revenge and plunge into hatred. What a wonderful person!! 

There was a feeling that education was a possible although long term solution. There needs to be huge shifts in attitudes on both sides of the fence. It seems too that ordinary people are much more willing to understand and respect each other than are their politicians.

I think we all believe that Dr Abuelaish is a saint-like person on the level with Nelson Mandela and Dr Martin Luther King.  This is a book which should be recommended reading for anyone interested in the Middle East and in fact in world politics.