Dear Yossi,

I am writing these words not out of hostility to my culture of origin but out of desperation to find new ways to overcome its social barriers that hamper social progress that would have made me feel proud of where I originally come from.

The intended direction of social progress is to raise young generations on tolerance, tempered-emotions, gratitude, the ability to negotiate rather than dominate, humility of religious and political belief, and the ability to disagree in a creative and peaceful way.

Yossi’s argument is based on persuading Palestinians, Arabs and now Muslims that Jews have as much a right as the Palestinians do to the land of Israel.

This kind of argument would be rejected by the majority of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, not because it lacks validity or they deny Yossi’s stated historical facts, but rather due to their inability to handle their resentment and rage for losing wars to the Jews whom they consider inferior. This feeling is a consequence of pervasive brainwashing and no rational argument would change all the consequential emotions and feelings.

I am not exaggerating here but rather stating facts regarding how Jews were and still are perceived as inferior. For example, in the Middle East Muslims were and still are advised to wash their hands if they come into physical contact with Jews and Christians. It is forbidden to eat their food, even though they were content to conduct business with them. There were and still are many demeaning and degrading depictions of Jews as cowardly, conniving and stingy. Prejudice runs deep in the social fabric of these societies and tremendous effort is required from within to break them free from its influence.

– These societies harbor firmly rooted views which greatly emphasise conceptions of reputation/honor (and the loss of it), shame and stigma; be it in relation to losing to an inferior being, to a woman’s allegedly unacceptable social behavior or to being addressed disrespectfully. Therefore, the loss of three wars to the Jews – whom Arabs had considered inferior – was a chronically traumatic and shameful experience which brought about extreme, rigid and intolerant attitudes, inability to handle problems and lack of what are often referred to in psychology/sociology as ‘soft skills’. This sense of shame manifested itself following the 1973 war when Israel was caught off guard, and the Arabs kept beating the drums of victory for years about their unsubstantial success.– The resentment isn’t only a result of losing to the Jews but also a consequence of Arab regimes’ governance. Their emotional immaturity results in their unique dysfunctional manner of expressing this resentment by projecting it onto a party which isn’t really the prime source of their grievances. This projection stems from raising generation after generation on a deeply rooted fear of effectively expressing feelings and emotions, particularly negative ones.

– To resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an extremely radical and potentially risky approach is required. Palestinians, Arabs and now Muslims need to be taught how to abandon confrontation as their dominant means of resolving conflicts with others. This may require much courage from Israel and the West in taking the risk of helping them to develop social skills that alleviate resentment, anger, rage and other such strong negative emotions through softer social means.

I am aware that one might claim that this is not the responsibility of others to fix. However, we must see the situation this way because otherwise I fail to see a way to stop their violent methods of resolving conflicts.

– Having said that, I must say that Yossi’s effort is incredibly valuable in the way he explains and sheds new light on the rights of Jews over their ancient homeland. However, that in itself is not enough without creating a change in the way these societies handle conflict, particularly with relation to Israel and the Jews.

Finally, thank you for inviting me to get involved in a topic that is close to my heart. I am honoured to contribute my small effort to this serious issue. I completely understand Yossi’s concerns about my blunt assessment of the negative and harmful features of my community of origin. I am acutely aware of the Arabs’ and Muslims’ rejection of my views, but they need to hear this from their own people; people such as myself and the many others who hold similar views. It would be great to share ideas through emails, and thank you, Michal, and Yossi for understanding where my views and I are coming from. 

A. Atar from Iraq


To read Yossi’s response check this link