This is Yossi’s reply to Qasem Y. Awad from Palestine. To read Qasem’s full response check this link 

 

Dear Qasem,

Thank you for your letter. As difficult as it was for me to read, I am grateful to you for taking the time to respond. I invited Palestinians to respond and you did. I can’t ask for more than that.

I am deeply sorry for your losses. May God bring your family comfort.  

Given that you have read only the first letter, I will keep my response brief. I will not debate with you about the points you raise. I will say only this: So long as people on my side and people on your side tell each other that we know “the truth” about the other side’s story better than it knows its own story, nothing will change between us. When I read about your denial of my historical roots here; when I read how you selectively choose those Israelis whom to quote while ignoring the overwhelming counter opinion of almost all Israeli historians and archaeologists; when I read about your strong hint that Zionists were somehow involved in the Holocaust – I feel an overwhelming sadness and exhaustion. Where to begin?

The denial of my story reminds me of those right-wing Israelis who deny your story, who claim you are an invented people, that your ancestors didn’t live here but moved here from neighboring Arab countries over the last hundred years, etc etc. That is how your denial of my story sounds to me.

If we are serious about moving forward and figuring out how to solve this conflict, I believe that each side will need to listen to the story of the other. I am not trying to deny your story, only tell you mine.

When you write that I am no different from an extreme right winger, I need to ask you: Will you let me define myself? Or do you know me better than I know myself?

I don’t know whether you know this, but in the latest English edition of the book I include a new epilogue, with 50 pages of Palestinian responses. I made the decision to honor those Palestinians who wrote to me by giving them the last word in my book. Is that the act of someone who wants to erase your story?

I hope you will continue reading my letters and responding. I will continue responding in turn.

With the hope of continuing our exchange –

Yossi