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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly moving account of forgiveness, 2 May 2011
This review is from: I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity (Hardcover)
Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian doctor born in one of the refugee camps in the Gaza strip after his family decided it would be wisest to leave their family home in what is now part of Israel until the tensions died down. The family was never able to return to their home and Abuelaish grew up in the Gaza Strip, only leaving when he was older to study as a doctor in Egypt.

This book was written following the tragic deaths of three of Abuelaish's daughters and one of his nieces during the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip in 2009, just two days before a ceasefire was finally declared. Tragically, these young girls only died because they happened to be in the wrong room at the wrong time.

Dr Abuelaish worked at an Israeli hospital which meant he was one of the few Gazans who had permission to travel outside the Gaza Strip and knew and worked with Israelis face to face. As one of the few people on either side of the conflict who had regular contact with both Israelis and Palestinians, Abuelaish had always worked to promote peace and understanding between the two sides and brought his children up to do the same.

Although the tragic death of his family members is the reason why this book was written, Abuelaish's account of his early life and the obstacles he and his family had to overcome for him to train and qualify as a doctor would still be a tale worthy of a book in its own right. But it's his response to the death of his daughters and niece that has really made him know internationally (including a nomination for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize) and that really impacts on reading this book.

As the title of the book suggests, Abuelaish refuses to give in to hate following the death of his daughters.

`It is important to feel anger in the wake of events like this; anger that signals that you do not accept what has happened, that spurs you to make a difference. But you have to choose not to spiral into hate. All the desire for revenge and hatred does is drive away wisdom, increase sorrow, and prolong strife.'

Abuelaish hasn't tried to whitewash his reactions/emotions when writing this book. The day before his daughters died, Abuelaish notes that he lost his temper because of the chaos inside their home caused by 17 people staying inside one small apartment for so long. And that makes his decision not to give in to hate even more remarkable. I felt Abuelaish was another flawed human like me and not holding himself up to be a perfect person.

Knowing what would happen, I actually had to put this book down for a while when I started to get to the point when I knew his daughters were about to die because I was finding it so emotional. But despite that I am so glad I read this book.

I didn't know a great deal about the history of the Palestinian-Israeli tensions before reading this book and I thought Abuelaish did a good job of explaining the background to the tensions and there's also a good map of Israel and the Palestinian territories at the front of the book. Although Abuelaish is a Palestinian, I didn't feel that his account of the tensions was biased. He's clear throughout the book that both sides have suffered atrocious losses and both sides need to forgive and come to some sort of compromise if the violence is to stop.

Highly recommended, I found this to be an incredibly moving memoir.
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