Dr. Abuelaish, the author of the book, has suffered in ways that are awful to contemplate. The book explores the doctor and his family's history, how he achieved what he has, who his family was and how he has reacted to what has happened along with some ruminations on how the Israeli/Palestinian peace process can move forward.
Dr. Abuelaish grew up as a refugee in the camps in Gaza where by hard work and some luck he managed to get scholarships that eventually led him to get his M.D. and to become the first Palestinian doctor practicing medicine in Israel. The book tells his story of growing up and living in Gaza. Even when he worked in Israel he still kept his home and family in Gaza. The pain, suffering and humiliations of his life are just awful to read. But the horrors grow even worse when his wife, within two weeks of being diagnosed with leukemia, dies and several months later three of his daughters and his niece are killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during a shelling of his home in Gaza. The Israeli militarily would eventually admit the shelling was a mistake.
But the power of this book is not Dr. Abuelaish's suffering but how he deals with it. As someone who has a better understanding than most of both the heights of human nobility and the depths of human depravity Dr. Abuelaish makes the conscious choice not to hate. He understands that hate is a poison which afflicts the hater rather than the hated. He understands that the only hope the Palestinians have to end the war with the Israelis is for both sides to get to know each other as people, to realize how similar they are and to figure out how to live together. The doctor understands that hate can have no role in that process. In fact, it can only stop that process. So the doctor works tirelessly to build bridges and bring people together.
This might all sound like some rose colored view of the world but the doctor comes across not as a martyr or a saint but as a very real human with real anger and real frustration who has used his mind to master his emotions and direct them down paths that he thinks can improve the world. Yes, the doctor is clearly angry. But instead of turning that anger to hate he turns it to action such as forming his foundation.