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'.
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Izzeldin Abeulaish, is a Palestinian doctor and infertility expert who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He received a scholarship to study medicine in Cairo, Egypt, and then received a diploma from the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of London. He completed a residency in the same discipline at Soroka hospital in Israel, followed by a subspecialty in fetal medicine in Italy and Belgium. He then undertook a masters in public health at Harvard University. Before his three daughters were killed in January 2009 during the Israeli incursion into Gaza, Dr Abuelaish worked as a researcher at the Gerner Institute at the Sheba hospital in Tel Aviv. He now lives with his family in Toronto, where he is an associate professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. His website and foundation can be found at www.daughtersforlife.comExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
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 four kilometres 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, drawing 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, dazed and wobbling with the sudden loss of the equilibrium she had always provided. I had to bring the family together, away from the noise and chaos of Jabalia City where we lived, to find privacy for all of us to remember and to strengthen the ties that bind us one to the other.
The day was cool, the December sky whitewashed by a pale winter sun, the Mediterranean a pure azure blue. But even as I watched these sons and daughters of mine playing in the surf, looking like joyful children playing anywhere, I was apprehensive about our future and the future of our region. But even I did not imagine how our personal tragedy was about to multiply many times over. People were rumbling about impending military action. For several years, the Israelis had been bombing the smugglers’ tunnels between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, but recently the attacks had become more frequent. Ever since the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit had been captured by a group of Islamic militants in June 2006, a blockade had been put in place, presumably to punish the Palestinian people as a whole for the actions of the few. But now the blockade was even tighter, and the tunnels were the only way most items got into the Gaza Strip . Every time they were bombed, they had been rebuilt, and then Israel would bomb them again . Adding to the isolation, the three crossings from Israel and Egypt into Gaza had been closed to the media for six months, a sign that the Israelis didn’t want anyone knowing what was going on. You could feel the tension in the air.
Most of the world has heard of the Gaza Strip. But few know what it’s like to live here, blockaded and impoverished, year after year, decade after decade, watching while promises are broken and opportunities are lost. According to the United Nations, the Gaza Strip has the highest population density in the world. The majority of its approximately 1.5 million residents are Palestinian refugees, many of whom have been living in refugee camps for decades; 80 percent of us are estimated to be living in poverty. Our schools are overcrowded, and there isn’t enough money to pave the roads or supply the hospitals.
The eight refugee camps and the cities—Gaza City and Jabalia City—which make up Gaza, are noisy, crowded, dirty. One refugee camp, the Beach camp in western Gaza City, houses more than 81,000 people in less than one square kilometre. But still, if you listen hard enough, even in the camps you can hear the heartbeat of the Palestinian nation. People should understand that Palestinians don’t live for themselves alone. They live for each other and support each other. What I do for myself and my children, I also do for my brothers and sisters and their children. My salary is for all of my family. We are a community.
The spirit of Gaza is in the cafés where narghile-smoking patrons discuss the latest political news; it’s in the crowded alleyways where children play; in the markets where women shop then rush back to their families; in the words of the old men shuffling along the broken streets to meet their friends, fingering their worry beads and regretting the losses of the past.
At first glance you might think everyone is in a hurry—heads down, no eye contact as people move from place to place—but these are the gestures of angry people who have been coerced, neglected, oppressed. Thick, unrelenting oppression touches every single aspect of life in Gaza, from the graffiti on the walls of the cities and towns to the unsmiling elderly, the unemployed young men crowding the streets and the children—that December day, my own—seeking relief in play at the beach.
This is my Gaza: Israeli gunships on the horizon, helicopters overhead, the airless smugglers’ tunnels into Egypt, UN relief trucks on the roadways, smashed buildings and corroding infrastructure. There is never enough—not enough cooking oil, not enough fresh fruit or water. Never ever enough. So easily do allegiances switch inside Gaza that it’s sometimes hard to know who is in charge, whom to hold responsible: Israel, the international community, Fatah, Hamas, the gangs, the religious fundamentalists. Most blame the Israelis, the United States, history.
Gaza is a human time bomb in the process of imploding. All through 2008 there were warning signs that the world ignored. The election of Hamas in January 2006 increased the tension between Israelis and Palestinians, as did the sporadic firing of Qassam rockets into Israel and the sanctions imposed on Palestinians as a result by the international community.
The rockets—homemade, most often missing their targets—spoke the language of desperation. They invited overreaction by the Israeli army and retaliatory rocket attacks from helicopter gunships that rained down death and destruction on Palestinians, often defenceless children. That in turn set the stage for more Qassam rockets—and the cycle kept repeating itself.
As a physician, I would describe this cycle of taunting and bullying as a form of self-destructive behaviour that arises when a situation is viewed as hopeless. Everything is denied to us in Gaza. The response to each of our desires and needs is, “No.” No gas, no electricity, no exit visa. No to your children, no to life. Even the well-educated can’t cope; there are more postgraduates and university graduates per capita here in Gaza than in most places on earth, but their socio-economic life doesn’t match their education level because of poverty, closed borders, unemployment and substandard housing. People cannot survive, cannot live a normal life, and as a result extremism has been on the rise. It is psychologically natural to seek revenge in the face of relentless suffering. You can’t expect an unhealthy person to think logically. Almost everyone here has psychiatric problems of one sort or another; everyone needs rehabilitation. But no help is available to ease the tension. This para-suicidal behaviour—the launching of rockets, the suicide bombings—invites counterattacks by the Israelis and then revenge from the Gazans, which leads to an even more disproportionate response from the Israelis. And on it goes.
More than half the people in Gaza are under the age of eighteen; that’s a lot of angry, disenfranchised young people. Teachers report behaviour problems in the schools—conduct that’s related to war and violence. Violence against women has escalated in the last ten years, as it always does during conflict. Unemployment and the related feelings of frustration and helplessness create a breed of people who are ready to take action because they feel they have nothing to lose—and worse, nothing to save.
They’re trying to get the attention of the people outside our closed borders. Their rallying cry is, “Look over here, the level of suffering in this place has to stop.” But how can Gazans attract the attention of the international community? Even humanitarian aid organizations depend on permission from Israel to enter and leave the Gaza Strip.
The acts of violence committed by the Palestinians are expressions of the frustration and rage of a people who feel impotent and hopeless. The primitive and cheap Qassam is actually the most expensive rocket in the world when you consider the consequences it creates on both sides of the divide.
I’ve lived with this tension in various degrees for my whole life, and have always done my utmost to succeed despite the limits our circumstances imposed on us. I was born in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza in 1955 , the oldest of six brothers and three sisters, and our lives were never easy. But even as a child I always had hope for a better tomorrow. Through hard work and constant striving, and the rewards that come to a believer, I became a doctor. I went to medical school in Cairo then did a diploma in obstetrics and gynecology with the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of London. Later, beginning in June 1997, I undertook a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Soroka hospital in Israel. Then I studied fetal medicine and genetics at the V. Buzzi hospital in Milan, Italy, and the Erasme Hospital in Brussels, Belgium, and became an infertility specialist. After that I realized that if I was going to make a larger difference for the Palestinian people, I needed management and policy-making skills, so I enrolled in a masters program in Public Health (Health Policy and Management) at Harvard University. Now I am working as a senior researcher at the Gertner Institute in the Sheba hospital in Israel. All of my adult life I have had one leg in Palestine and the other in Israel, an unusual path in this region. Whether delivering babies, helping a couple overcome infertility or researching the effect of health care on poor populations versus rich ones, or the impact on populations with access to medical help versus populations without access, I have long felt that medicine can bridge the divide between people and that doctors can be messengers of peace.
I didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly. I was born in a refugee camp, grew up as a refugee and have submitted myself on a weekly basis to the humiliation of checkpoints and the frustrations and endless delays that come with crossing into and out of Gaza. But I maintain that revenge and counter-revenge is suicidal, that mutual respect, equality and coexistence is the only reasonable way forward, and I firmly believe that the vast majority of people who live in this region agree with me. Even though I could feel immense trouble coming our way—an even broader threat to our sense of security than Nadia’s death—these ideas were playing on my mind as I watched my children romping in the waves.
I chose this date—December 12—to bring them here because it followed hajj, one of the holiest days in the Islamic calendar; it was a time to reflect, to pray, to gather the family together. Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca that takes place between the seventh and twelfth days of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar. This is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world; every able-bodied Muslim is required to make the trip at least once in his or her lifetime. Whether you go to Mecca or not, Waqfat Arafat is the Islamic observance day during hajj in which pilgrims pray for forgiveness and mercy. It’s the first of the three days of Eid al-Adha that mark the end of hajj. In Mecca, pilgrims stay awake all night to pray on the hill of Arafat, the site where Muhammad delivered his last sermon. For the millions of Muslims, my family included, who do not go to Mecca each year, bowing to the Alkebla in the east, falling to your knees and praying the prayers of the believer is sufficient. On the second day we mark the Feast of Sacrifice: the most important feast of Islam. It recalls Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to God, and commemorates God’s forgiveness. Everyone observes the day by wearing their finest clothing and going to the mosque for Eid prayers. Those who can afford to do so sacrifice their best domestic animals, such as a sheep or a cow, as a symbol of Abraham’s sacrifice. We observed the prayer day in Jabalia Camp with our relatives and went to the cemetery at the camp to pray for Nadia. I’d bought a sheep and had it sacrificed, donated two-thirds of the animal to the poor and needy, as is the observance, and had some of the rest of the animal made into kebabs for a barbecue at the beach to mark the final day of Eid.
We got up early the next morning, made sandwiches and packed a picnic, and at seven a.m. we all climbed into my car—a 1986 Subaru—and set out.
Before we got to the beach, I had another treat for my children. In early December I’d bought a small olive grove, maybe a thousand square metres in size and half a kilometre from the beach. It was like a little piece of Shangri-La, separated from the hurly-burly by a three-metre fence, a place where we could be together, a place where maybe we could build a little house one day. I’d kept it a secret until I could show them. As they tumbled out of the car, the kids were surprised and delighted with this unlikely piece of utopia on the outskirts of Gaza, with its olive trees, grapevines, fig and apricot trees. They explored every corner, marvelled at the tidy rows of trees, and happily chased each other through the undergrowth until I reminded them that there was work to be done. We all dug into the task of tidying up the place, which was a little neglected and needed weeding. Even though they had known nothing but life in the crowded confines of the Gaza Strip for most of their lives, my children—the descendants of generations of farmers—seemed at home here.
After we had done enough work, we retreated to a small area of the grove bordered by a line of cinder blocks and shaded by an arbour of grapevines. We spread mats and made a small fire from the twigs and brush we’d cleared from the olive trees, and sat in the shade of the vines eating our falafel sandwiches and talking about the events of our family life—the loss of my wife, their mother, a change so enormous we were still, four months later, trying to come to terms with it.
I also needed to talk to them about another significant surprise. Recently I’d been offered a chance to work at a hospital in Canada. Except for a brief stay in Saudi Arabia, where Bessan and Dalal were born, the family had never lived anywhere but Gaza. Moving to Toronto would be a monumental change, maybe even too overwhelming so soon after their mother died.
When I told them about the opportunity, Aya said, “I want to fly, Daddy.” So I knew at least one of them was willing to leave everything behind—our home, the uncles, the aunts and cousins, the friends—and start over in a new country. Soon the others had also agreed: together we would go to Canada, not forever, but for a while. The older girls, 21-year-old Bessan, Dalal, 20, and Shatha, 17, would attend the University of Toronto; the younger ones, Mayar, 15, Aya, 14, Mohammed, 13, Raffah, 10, and Abdullah, 6, would go to public school in Canada. There would be many challenges: attending classes in English, experiencing a Canadian winter, learning about a different culture. But we would also be out of the constant tension of Gaza; they’d be safe. These eight children had seemed to be adrift, even in our home, without their mother. This change would be good for them. Together, we’d manage. I could se...
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Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing, London, United Kingdom, 2011. Soft cover. Book Condition: New New. 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'. Bookseller Inventory # 200858
Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk1408814145
Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111408814145
Book Description Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1408814145