Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Shall Not Hate

by Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish
New York : Walker & Co., 2011.

*NOTE: This review refers to the book I received through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. As per the rules, I receive a free book in return for a review, and whether it's positive or negative has no affect on my receiving books in the future.*

Dr. Abuelaish is a Palestinian infertility doctor who worked in an Israeli hospital. Through hard work and education, he has come a long way from his poverty-stricken childhood in a refugee camp in Gaza. When Israelis attacked the Gaza strip in 2009, a tank shot rounds into his daughters' bedroom, killing three of his daughters and a niece, and gravely injuring more family members. But as Dr. Abuelaish insists, he will not take revenge; instead, he hopes that this will pave the way to true peace, built on mutual respect and understanding of similarities between Palestinians and Israelis.

It's impossible not to have respect for this man, who lost three children, yet continues to hold tight to the belief that there can be a better way, that good comes from bad, and that there can be peace if people would come together and begin a dialogue. I was a little more mixed in my reaction to his book, primarily because I know so little of the history of the conflict that I was reluctant to take Dr. Abuelaish's interpretation as the absolute truth without hearing an alternate point of view. His wording is sometimes stilted or repetitive, but this was a much smaller quibble in the face of a passionate cry for change. His description of the events that changed his life and his family's lives forever was absolutely heartbreaking. I admire him for continuing to campaign for peace in the face of personal tragedy.


David Nolan (dsc73277) said...

Anyone who can lose members of his family and yet remain determined not to hate those who took their lives is very impressive and worth listening to. I think this book has been the most significant non-fiction title I have read this year.

I have a personal preference for exploring the Middle East situation through the eyes and ears of those who attempt to build bridges and understand both sides. As such I am not well placed to point you in the direction of those who argue passionately from one particular side of the divide. For another book in the attempting to see both sides vein, I would recommend It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street by Emma Williams.

Mary said...

Thanks for the recommendation, David! I've added "It's Easier to Reach Heaven..." to my ever-growing TBR list. Another book I'm thinking of reading is "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949" by Benny Morris.

I am embarrassed to admit how much I don't know about the Middle East, so my comments regarding wanting another point of view have less to do with I Shall Not Hate and more to do with my own ignorance and reluctance to just take someone's word for it, you know?