When I started reading “I shall Not Hate: a Gaza Doctor Journey”, I had mixed feeling. How can Dr. Abuelaish, forgive the killers of his daughters? How can he swallow up the daily humiliation of crossing the borders to go from Gaza to the Israeli hospital where he was working? Is Dr. Abuelaish hiding to us, readers, his real anger under some politically correctness motivated feelings or is he a sort of “an angel”, from another planet, living among us in this world more and more deprived from its basic humanity, and filled with violence and hatred?
After finishing the book, I was definitely tilting toward one conclusion: Dr. Abuelaish is an extraordinary individual. He was able to stand above the personal grudge. He is exceptionally strong. His story is compelling and tragic. Yet, he was able to turn upside down a personal tragedy into a universal message of hope.
However, I was half right in my conclusion and this is why.
Recently, I had the privilege to attend a lecture by Dr. Abuelaish where he spoke about his book and shared with the audience his family story. In front of my eyes, I saw a “normal human being”, a grieving husband suffering the loss of his wife to leukemia and a sad father who lost three beautiful young daughters and a niece killed by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip in January 2009. Dr Abuelaish spoke with his heart, fighting back tears and letting his voice reach deeply into my soul. I also detected a spark of admiration and pride in his eyes when he spoke eloquently about his elder daughter “Bessan”. As any proud father he had dreams for her and as any energetic and smart young woman she had plans for herself. His dream and her plans were wiped away by a barbaric bombardment of his house on January 2009. I discovered that Dr. Abuelaish isn’t a superman or a super extraordinary human being. He is simply a human being. A Palestinian doctor who decided to fight injustice with optimism, with dialogue, with medical procedures but also with determined words and concrete actions.
Yes, Dr. Abuelaish was able to stand up on his feet and speak about his personal tragedy and ask for justice for the sake of his daughters. He doesn’t want to forget them and he won’t.
Two years ago, I met the parents of Rachel Corrie. An American student who was crushed to death in Gaza in 2003 by an Israel Defence Forces bulldozer, while she was trying to prevent the destruction of her Palestinian friends’ home. In their eyes, I saw the same sorrow mixed with hope as I saw it in Dr. Abuelaish’s eyes. Their message was full of hope and humanity. They keep the memory of their daughter by seeking freedom and dignity to the Palestinian people.
The book of Dr. Abuelaish left a huge impression on me. It is the perfect example of a man who found healing process in peace and justice. A must read for all.