In 2009, the Gazan doctor, who worked in Israel, called into an Israeli news broadcast shortly after three of his daughters had been killed in an attack that destroyed his house. Abuelaish famously went on to proscribe peace and understanding instead of revenge or hate, even after such an immense personal tragedy.
The doctor, whose book “I Shall Not Hate” was released last year, spoke in Pittsburgh twice in recent years — once via a satellite feed — and he returned March 2, this time for an evening at the Jewish Community Center presented by J Street Pittsburgh.
In an interview with the Chronicle before his appearance, Abuelaish, who now splits his time between Toronto and Gaza, spoke of the situation in the Gaza strip heating up.
“The Gazans are being deprived, and there is an escalation now of military activity,” he said. “The situation is being heated and getting warmer and warmer, but a military approach will just never work.”
If he could speak with Prime Minister Netanyahu, said Abuelaish, “I’d love to ask if he has the moral courage to learn from Prime Minister Rabin, who believed in peace and took a risk and paid the price to save lives. Rabin said enough blood, enough tears, enough suffering and killing. That’s what I would say to Netanyahu: Enough.”
Though the recent months of uprisings in countries throughout the Middle East have yet to truly threaten Israel, Abluelaish said that they serve as “a message to the leaders of these countries, including Netanyahu: You are not removed from what is happening in the world. The people are saying, ‘You are there to help us. You are there to serve us. You are there to work for us. We won’t let you run our lives destructively.’ The people have limited patience; it’s not infinite.”
But could such an uprising happen in Israel, a democracy?
Though unlikely, “Nothing is impossible,” said Abuelaish.
The faces of these uprisings have changed from years past, he said.
“The people are aware; they are eager and peaceful. The meaning of uprising is changing. It’s not to fight; it’s to be educated.”
(Justin Jacobs can be reached at justinj@the jewishchronicle.net.)