“HATRED WON’T GIVE ME JUSTICE”Izzeldin Abuelaish, palestinian gyneacologist who had lost his three daughters and one niece under a fire in Israel. “If I hated the one who killed my daughters, I would be shattered, instead, I’m full of hope.”
January, 16th 2009, hour: 16:45. This is the day and time when an Israeli tank killed three daughters and the niece of the Palestinian doctor and author of the book ‘I Will Not Hate’. “That was the time when I told myself: this tragedy must be the last one”, said Izzeldin Abuelaish.
Yesterday, at the Meeting, he told the story of his life in Gaza, which had been a time filled by an intense suffering, but enlightened by faith and hope. “Abuelaish is an extraordinary example—he is a witness of peace” introduced Robi Ronza in the conference of the series “Life: A Need of Happiness”. Abuelaish was born in a refugee camp in Gaza, he reached his dream to become a doctor with commitment and he was the only one who succeeded in working in an Israeli hospital with a specialization in gynecology. “I dreamed of becoming a doctor and I think that in life nothing is impossible, except bringing my daughters back on Earth.”
The painful loss marked him, but it didn’t take him down the easy street of hate. When he was young, in the summer, he used to work in a cooperative Jewish village, where he made peaceful and positive meetings. Here he decided to dedicate his life to the creation of relationships between the Palestinian and the Israeli’s people who are looking for a friendship. He taught his six children to defend peace, to be human and to behave like one. Then, the challenge began. “On September 16th, 2008, at 4:45 pm, my wife died. I thought it was the end of the world, I always believed that children have the right to be raised by their own mother,” he said.
After his wife’s death, his eldest daughter, 20 years old, took the lead of the house, to give her father the tranquility he needed to continue his job. After only 6 months, the family’s house will be bombed and four people would die: three of which are Abuelaish’s daughters and his niece, and other people would be wounded. The command to ceasefire would arrive just the day after. However, Abuelaish didn’t stop at sorrow. He said: “It’s time to defend everyone’s life. No one has to be killed while defending his own freedom, and no one will be free until the others are not. My grandmother used to say that life is what we make out of it. So we give the shape to our life and future. I’m sure I’ll meet my daughters again one day, and I want to be able to tell them that what caused the spilling of their blood has been solved. The tools to solve the situation are not the bullets, but wisdom, kindness and good acts. Words are more powerful than weapons.”
He has chosen the road of words and has written a book about his life to give hope to others. He continued, “Even after what happened, I was expected to become hateful but it’s not with hate that I will have justice. Hate is a poison that destroys the one is hateful. If I hated those who killed my daughters I’d be destroyed. We have to stand out against hate, not to give the fault to others, but to take charge of our responsibilities. We must ask ourselves: what can we do to make a change? The best weapon of mass destruction is the hate in our souls.”
Abuelaish’s other daughter were gravely injured during the bombing and during her four-month stay in the Israeli hospital, in which worked her father, she was able to feel the closeness of her friends and colleagues. Another small victory against hate: “Life taught me that there are three enemies: arrogance, ignorance and greed. We hate each other because we do not know each other, and as long as we continue to ignore each other, we continue to hate each other. To know means to manifest respect and comprehension. They are tools for justice and truth,” said Abuelaish.
How come he didn’t hate? “I was held up by faith,” he repeated three times, “faith for me is life, it’s what stays when everything goes, it’s the light in the dark that shows us the way. We all have faith, in whatever form it is. Even atheists believe in something. I believe in God, the One who created us. Faith is the link between you and God,” explained the Palestinian, who is Muslim, “I believe that everything is in God’s hands,” he continued, “and us, humans, are tools. Everything in life has an aim and this is God’s project. The more I live this faith, the closer I feel to God, and I am more satisfied and feel protected. When we have to face something difficult, God, who knows our limits, doesn’t give us something we’re unable to bear.”
The passion for faith and for life has made him do great things. Now, Abuelaish lives in Canada and he’s a professor of Global Health at the University of Toronto. He specialized himself in female sterility problems to help women realize their desire for motherhood. “Each time which, after delivery, I give the neonate to the mother is a moment of joy for me. The cry of the newborn is a cry of hope.” The Palestinian gynecologist supports and values women and mothers in general. He created the ‘Daughters For Life Foundation’, in memory of his daughters to favor girl’s schooling in the Middle East. This year they handed out fifty awards to girls originating from Palestine, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon. “Without my wife and my daughters I wouldn’t be here. In every society, the most important figure is the feminine one, because women keep on hoping. I am an optimist and full of hope.” A hope that has been given to the Meeting. “I’ve come here because I believe you are able to spread this message.” The book of Izzeldin Abuelaish has been translated in seventeen languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, both which the author speaks fluently. During the next 11th of September ‘I Will Not Hate’ will be presented at the National Israeli Theater by an Israeli-Palestinian company.