Our friend, Stephen Scheinberg, emeritus professor of history at Montreal’s Concordia University and co-chair of Canadian Friends of Peace Now, is now a regular contributor to the Canadian publication, The Mark. The following is his latest piece (on the Gaza-based physician and peace activist who lost three children and a niece to Israeli fire during Operation Cast Lead):
A Prescription for the Heart by Stephen Scheinberg
Many Canadians have now become well acquainted with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish. The Canadian publication of his book, I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey, prompted a broad flurry of recent radio and TV interviews and published reviews. The depths of his personal tragedy – three of his daughters and a niece died during the Israeli assault on Gaza in January 2009 – have moved many of us to tears. Yet it is his courage, in his refusal to embrace hatred, that is most impressive.
Recently, the doctor addressed an overflow McGill University audience composed of Jews, Arabs, and gentiles, who gave him a standing ovation at the end of his presentation – a response usually reserved for the partisan champions of either side in the Middle East conflict by similarly inclined crowds. Dr. Abuelaish had not come to talk of politics, of solutions to the vexing problems of the Palestinian refugees, of the ultimate disposition of the Temple Mount, or even of secure borders. Certainly he did not come to apportion blame, nor does he do so in his book.
This distinguished Palestinian spoke of the Jewish family whose farm he had worked on, who treated him fairly and even gave him a gift when he left their employ. He spoke also of the Jewish doctors and medical staff he worked with at Israeli hospitals, those islands of sanity and equality, amidst a sea of turbulence and conflict. There, Israeli doctors dispensed care, as he did himself, without regard for national distinctions or political grievances; Dr. Abuelaish recognizes people based not on their tribal affiliations but on their merits as human beings.
Read the rest online at The Mark.