Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish made stops at several Boston-area synagogues and other venues last week to describe the terrible loss he suffered in Gaza in January and to find in it a reason to push forward with reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.
During Israel's invasion of Gaza, two Israeli tank shells struck Abuelaish's house and killed three of his daughters. The Palestinian doctor spoke of that personal loss, but he sought to focus more on the need for both sides to look at their own failings, and find ways to break through the cycle of finger-pointing and suffering. I spoke with Abuelaish between stops and wrote an article about his life and work in the Sunday Globe.
The real impact comes in Abuelaish's interaction with his varied audiences as they wrestle with his message. My former Globe colleague, Charlie Radin, who is now at Brandeis, wrote a moving column in the Jewish Advocate describing one such exchange at a Brandeis talk.
The Advocate, sensibly, does not give away its content, but here's a link to the intro.
Radin recounts an exchange between Abuelaish and an Israeli "refusenik" who has refused military service and blames her own government for the deadlock. She criticized Abuelaish for an apparent lack of Palestinian nationalism. Radin recounts the doctor's reply: those involved need to look at themselves, and examine their own conduct, before they aim the blame at others. He criticizes Palestinians for launching rockets at Israeli civilians -- and he asks Israelis to look at their own conduct in a self-critical light.
"Abuelaish has put his finger on something important. We must first look in the mirror.
"This does not mean weeping and expressing outrage at the casualties on one side while speaking politically correct platitudes about regretting the deaths of noncombatant women and children on the other - wherever those deaths occur.
"I have been to Gaza and to Jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of horrors, and while there is no equivalency in ways, means or intentions, it is a fact that many, on both sides, have become emotionally calloused. And it is a fact that this callousing of the heart and soul has become, in itself, an obstacle to peace."
Worth the price of the latest issue.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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