This post is part of the LRC’s 25 year anniversary project. We are asking our readers for the most influential Canadian books published in the last quarter century. For more information, click here.
I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey is the moving, personal story of Dr. Izzeldine Abuelaish, a physician from Gaza, whose three daughters Bessan, 21, Mayar, 15 and Aya, 13 and niece Noor, 17, were killed at home in 2009 by two rockets fired by the Israeli Defense Force.
Immediately after the shelling, Dr. Abuelaish contacted his friend Shlomo Eldar, an Israeli broadcaster; the anguished cries of a bereaving father were broadcast throughout the region, and to the world. Incredibly, Dr. Abuelaish did not express a desire for revenge, but rather, renewed his commitment for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Imagine – losing three of your children, and from the depths of your soul emerges a message of reconciliation.
The book recounts Dr. Abuelaish’s humble beginnings in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, whose love for learning was nurtured by his mother. After completing high school, Dr. Abuelaish won a scholarship to study medicine in Cairo, and further studies in Saudi Arabia. He completed his residency in Israel, followed by specialization in fetal medicine in Europe, culminating in a Master’s degree at Harvard University. He returned to become the first Palestinian doctor to receive a staff position at an Israeli hospital, where he treated Muslim, Jewish and Christian patients with utmost professionalism and compassion. Despite enduring the hardships of occupation, he maintained a bold vision of peace based on the common humanity of two peoples.
The book’s central emphasis on compassion based on our common humanity is sorely needed in today’s world.
Sheema Khan is a patent agent, author, and columnist at The Globe and Mail. Her latest book is Of Hockey and Hijab: Reflections of a Canadian Muslim Woman (2009).