My notes/book review –  Salah from Palestine

  • Since Mr. Yossi is a prominent writer and journalist, he has successfully introduced the Jewish narrative to the Arab readers in this book. The storytelling was smooth and beautiful. The writer implemented several fundamental media tactics/tools for this purpose, such as AlGhars (planting), AttanQeeT (drop by drop), Alhaalah-alqudsiyyah (masking things with religion), repetition and deliberately inserting the needed images in the readers’ minds.
    Yossi exaggerated in some parts, tried to add justifications when it was clear that he was feeling guilty (about his side’s wrongdoing) and took things out of context when it was the Palestinians’ fault, according to him.
  • Yossi had also succeeded in portraying the Jews as the victims and the heroes at the same time, particularly when he mentioned his friend Shimon who was humiliated by a Sudanese soldier after he had left Ethiopia on his way to Israel. I personally doubt this story. As far as I know there was a full cooperation back then between the Sudanese regime under Jafar Alnumairi and the Israelis (in order to transfer the Ethiopian Jews to Israel).
  • This “poor” Shimon never asked himself when he served in Gaza where those refugees who were stuck in Gaza refugee camps came from. He did not ask himself why they suffered there, the same way the Kurdish Jewish woman and her little daughter suffered when they were riding their donkey from Kurdistan to the Promised Land (as Yossi wrote about in his book).How come he didn’t see the Gazans’ suffering after everything that he had endured?

The suffering of the Ethiopian Jews who were walking all the way from Ethiopia to Israel, the suffering of the Yemenite Jews who believed that the Tora’s promises were being fulfilled when they saw a plane: they believed that they were about to be transferred to the Land of Israel on the “wings of the eagles”.

  • In addition to the covering, hiding and delusional methods that Yossi adopted – he intended to create a media discourse through this book, a new discourse that would change the stereotypical image about Jews, Zionism and Israel.After having read the book, I came to the conclusion that this book does not address Palestinians but rather the Jews themselves. The book probes deeply into the Jewish narrative but it completely ignores the Palestinian one, even though the Palestinian narrative is overwhelmingly present in the Jews’ reality, both their current and their future realities.

    Yossi, through this book, tried to create a direct connection between God, Abraham and Sarah and the Jews, even though there were about 700 years in between receiving the Torah by Moses and the days of Abraham, and 600 years between Jacob and Moses. This means that there is no connection between Abraham and Judaism.

 

  • Yossi mentioned the story of the Jews in Sinai and how God tried to prove his existence to them. But the truth is that the Jews were making things extremely hard on Moses, especially when they asked for more and more evidences that God actually existed and for that they were punished by thunderbolt. They were punished for their unreasonable and impossible demands. Jews turned away from God and chose to worship the golden Calf that the Samarians provided them with, after Moses had left them and secluded himself for 40 days when he couldn’t stand their arrogance and endless doubts. The story of the Calf is the best proof of the Jews’ arrogant, doubtful behavior.
  • Furthermore, Yossi emphasized the issue of the Jewish nationhood. This has been the main problem of the Zionist movement ever since its early beginning. I don’t think he managed to convince people that the Jews were a nation. He didn’t succeed in doing so since all his arguments were weak. His explanations do not meet the criteria that are applicable to nominating a certain group of people as a nation or a race.Judaism, Christianity, Islam or any other religion cannot become nations over time. These are religions – not races, and because Judaism is a religion and not a race, hatred against Jews cannot be categorized or referred to as anti-Semitism. The reform movement, in the 19th century, defined Judaism as a religious belief only and this is the way ultra-orthodox Jews perceive Judaism as well. Even Yossi himself mentioned in his third letter that the issue of the Jewish Nationhood was still controversial.
  • I think Yossi emphasized and relied on religious arguments due to the weakness of historical Jewish arguments. He focused on the Divine Promise of the land but ignored a very important fact: God asked the Jews to save themselves from Pharaoh and escape to Palestine since it provided a safe haven for them but he never asked them to establish a political entity there! Yossi was intentionally twisting the facts about the situation of Palestine back then.
  • Yossi tried to prove to his readers that this land was deserted, dirty and not taken care of before the establishment of Israel. He wanted to emphasize how the Jewish pioneers worked the land and brought it back to life. He shared photos from his album to prove this: a set of photos that so many Jews possess.Yossi tried very hard to hide the fact that Palestine was a political, economic and cultural minaret back then. Palestine wasn’t the way he portrayed it in his book at all.

    Haifa, Akko, Jerusalem and Gaza were all flourishing cities in all aspects. Yossi used the same argument that the Zionist movement had been using all along: that this land was deserted – which is completely untrue. If you looked back at Egypt 100 years ago you would  find that its population was 20 million and not 100 million as it is today. The same applies here: this land and the people living on it went through so many struggles due to the colonizing forces that were fighting over it. Indeed, the land and its people suffered heavy consequences due to those struggles but it was never deserted.

  • Yossi tried to prove that this land belonged to the Jews based on a Divine promise from God. Due to this purpose he described the Jews as the indigenous, innocent people, while the Palestinians were referred to as “strangers/foreigners” and “weak”, just like it’s mentioned in the Torah. I felt that when Yossi was describing the Jews as the indigenous people who were given the power over this land, he was telling his own people to follow the Torah’s laws and treat the “strangers” fairly, unlike Pharaoe who treated the Jews unkindly. So, in a way, he was comparing between the way Pharaoh treated the Jews back then and the manners in which the Israeli Jews treat Palestinians. Furthermore, Yossi never mentioned that the indigenous people of this land were the Canaanites.
  • Yossi ignored the fact that Palestine and the Palestinians were mentioned around 152 times in the first book of Samuel but the Jews misuse these terms (Palestine/Palestinians) for some delusional, twisting purposes.
  • Yossi frequently repeated the terms ” Zionist pioneers” when talking about the Jews who went back to their original homeland. He also stressed that the Jews had Israel as its only refuge but the Palestinians got the support of the entire Arab Nation.I think that Yossi is a victim of the delusional Zionist ideology that is based on excluding the other, especially since he came to Israel in 1982 when he was young. I believe that Yossi, just like all Jews, is preoccupied with fears; therefore, he believes that occupying more land will grant him security because he simply trusts no one.

    I think he believes that any solution with the Palestinians is temporary. He believes that it will be naïve to leave his people’s security in the hands of others because doing so disobeys/goes against the Torah.

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  • I have finished reading the fifth letter and I can’t agree more with Yossi. Had he asked me to write about the same topic I would have written it the exact same way he did.Yossi is a writer and a journalist; I also have a lot of experience in the media. When Yossi moved to Israel in 1982 I went to Lebanon to help my people there during the war that Israel waged against the PLO. I was a university student back then and witnessed the ruthlessness of that war; I lived its consequences and experienced the destruction that was left behind.

    I was asking myself back then: Will I be able to fire on an Israeli soldier and kill him? I was pushing myself to feel convinced that I HAD to kill but deep inside I knew that I would never do that.

    Lebanon was an important life changing experience that taught me that there was another way to get our freedom and establish our independent state: by peace. The consequences of that war taught me that peace was the one and only solution. However, just the thought about peace with Israel back then was considered a betrayal.

    But later on, one man called Arafat adopted a new approach to solving the conflict: a peaceful solution with Israel. He moved forward with this new approach till reaching the Oslo Accords – the agreement that was bashed heavily by the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs in general. They viewed Oslo as an agreement that had been concocted in dark rooms and all of a sudden saw the light of day.

    Under Arafat’s leadership we returned to Jericho and Gaza. We started establishing our state’s institutions together. Arafat managed to convince the Palestinians that an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital on the borders of 1967 met the national aspirations of the Palestinians. As a result, we all worked hard and moved forward to fulfil this vision.

And then came the murder of Rabin and we, the Palestinians, were awfully disappointed. It showed us how the extremists won over the Israeli peace-makers. As a result, the Israeli government gradually procrastinated what was agreed upon in Oslo. They built more settlements and postponed establishing our independent Palestinian State that was supposed to be established by 1999.

The consequences of this were catastrophic: the extremists on both sides took the failure of the Oslo Accords as an opportunity to react violently and it ended up with the Second Intifada in 2000.  Not to mention the rising of the radical religious (Palestinian) movements that were highly interested in destroying what Arafat had built through his peaceful approach.

The same happened on the Israeli side. The “Hawks” (right wing) took charge of the politics in Israel and gradually Palestinian civil and security institutions were being destroyed. Whenever there was a violent attack in Israel – the first reaction by the Israeli military forces was to target PA institutions instead of punishing the ones who committed those attacks. This was one of the main reasons behind the rising of the radical movements and the power they gained, which ended up with the PA losing control over Gaza.

Then Arafat died. Mahmoud Abbas became the next president. He managed to get back some sort of political relations with the Israeli side and the other parties involved in this conflict.

Abbas managed to rebuild the Palestinian civil and security institutions. He was committed to the Security Coordination with the Israeli side regardless of the separation wall that was being built and added more restrictions on the PA and the Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas managed to change the Palestinian mentality. He never stopped talking to us about peace with Israel. He says that peace is the one and only alternative. He demanded a state for his people. “Just give us our state and keep yours. Call yours Jewish or non-Jewish -this is none of my business, just give me a state for my people”.

Abbas fights violence on the Palestinian side. He fights incitement against Israel. He managed to recruit 50,000 people for the Palestinian Security Forces. Those are well-armed and well-trained soldiers. None of them ever shot a bullet on Israel in an organized national attempt nor have they done so as individuals. This proves that the mentality of the Palestinian Security Forces is based on peace and on preventing violence against Israel.

I think you know very well how the Israeli army enters the Palestinian cities on a daily basis and nobody even cares about them. Even though the Palestinians have the capabilities to confront them with violent means, with stones or even bullets, they don’t do this.

 

This should show you how the PA is spreading the message of peace and non-violence among Palestinians. I invite you to watch the Palestinian Media; you will never find anything that encourages Palestinians to be involved in violence.

 

In fact, the frustration and desperation that surrounds Palestinians in their day-to-day life, which is caused by the occupation, will lead us back to the violence and the consequences this time will be more catastrophic.

Just imagine the consequences after the US administration had cut the funds that the Palestinians used to receive and Israel had stolen our taxes. What do you expect will happen afterwards? The PA is barely managing to pay its employees half a salary these days. You can imagine the consequences of this.

Abbas has believed and followed a peaceful approach (to solving this conflict) since 1965 and he has not given up on this approach till he finally got the opportunity to lead the Palestinians and fulfil his vision.

Yossi, on the fifth letter you spoke about the importance of breaking the cycle of denying each other’s right of self-determination. You mentioned how we should break it together, only together. On the eighth letter you spoke about the missed/lost opportunity to conduct peace. You expressed your deep concerns regarding the loss of opportunities to coexist with each other but you have to know that Israel is the only one to be blamed for this.

Israel carries full responsibility for these lost opportunities. It is the strong side here and we have to take this into consideration. Israel has the power to put things back on the right track. Israel must initiate and support the establishment of a Palestinians State. And you know what? Let Israel attempt to do this and let the world see who will put obstacles on the way !

If you continue being enslaved to your fears and concerns this will only prolong our suffering.

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After having responded to what was written in the book, I would like to end my notes by explaining my point of view regarding the issues that must be solved first in order to reach the ultimate solution.

Regarding the Muslims and the Arab World:
You must know that the way Muslims and Arabs view Israel is deeply connected to the way Israel treats Palestinians. I guess you know about the Arab Initiative that was suggested by the late Saudi King Abdullah. This initiative demands establishing a Palestinian State as a precondition for Arab recognition of the State of Israel as a part of the Middle East, followed by normalizing the relations between Israel and the entire Arab and Muslim Worlds.

We, the Palestinians, are ready for peace. It won’t take us more than half an hour – the distance from Ramallah to Jerusalem – to sign the agreement and commit to it. Our main demand is a demilitarized and an independent state. We demand to fulfil this under a comprehensive American supervision, so why all this fear? What is there to be afraid of?

Regarding Jerusalem:

This issue will be so easy to solve, if you think about it: I believe that the reasons behind long conflict over Jerusalem are merely economic. The one who controls Jerusalem is like someone who owns a well of fossil fuel and I believe that the politicians exploit religions for this purpose.

And trust me, if the Cave of the Patriarchs were an interesting place for tourists as Jerusalem is, you would witness the same quarrels over it.

Regarding Gaza Strip:
The moment we gain our independence we will disarm Hamas. There will be a complete Palestinian sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza. This will be a Palestinian problem and we will not leave it without a solution, even if international support was needed here.

I guess you know that Hamas changed its vision regarding the solution. Hamas recognizes a solution based on the 1967 borders and is now trying to channel the Palestinian political scene to support this vision.

Regarding the Palestinians refugees:

I see two possible scenarios to solve this issue: it will be either solved by compensations or the refugees will return to the Future Palestinian State. Simply.

Regarding the the way some countries perceive Israel:

This is solely Israel’s fault. The Israeli policies and violent approaches towards Palestinians caused the rising in anti-Israel views all over the world. There are so many foreigners in the West Bank who arrive here in order to express their solidarity with the Palestinians, in defiance of these unfair Israeli policies.

You have to know that you can neither hide nor twist any facts these days. It is so easy to reveal the truth and spread it widely and social media helps a great deal in these matters.

I know, based on a report I have recently read, that a lot of Israelis hide their Israeli identity  when they travel abroad because they are afraid. They are Afraid of being bashed or mistreated as a result of the way the Israeli Government acts.

You need to know that the BDS movement is dramatically rising all over the world and this causes a dramatic change in views: the ones who supported you in the past are now supporting the Palestinians and taking our side. They simply see the facts on the ground. They see the Palestinian suffering from a mere humane perspective. It is a case of humanity after all. And we know very well how BDS’s international activity concerns the Israeli Government.

To be honest and clear with you, we, the Palestinians, don’t need to get involved into the argument about Jewish identity; whether you identify yourself as a religion or as a nation. We are not and should not be involved in your relationship with God .We are not interested in the reasons why he chose you.

I don’t want to waste more time and energy over the concept of the Divine giving: whether God gave this land to the Jews in particular or granted the Muslims the right and privilege to rule over the rest of the nations. What I care about is the fact that God would not be satisfied to see his people fighting each other over these things.

Let us keep our arguments far away from these religious issues that politicians love to exploit.

Let us focus on the facts.

Your former Defense Minister, Lieberman, has said on an interview with Shlomo Ganor on the German Dotchi Philaih Channel that half of the immigrants to Israel from the Soviet Union were not Jews. We also know that a lot of the immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel are actually Christian and Muslim.
So where did our neighbours come from? And why are they here? Is it just to increase the population of Israel no matter what?

Let us be practical. There is a big problem that must be solved. We must reach an agreement to solve it. We must smoothen the way and ease the obstacles that may appear. Each one of us has to choose his way and we should learn from others.

The whites and the blacks reached an agreement in South Africa after decades of fighting each other.

The European Union got rid of the borders between its countries.

 

Let us learn from this. Let us learn from the American experience. Even the Canadian or the Australian experiences can teach us something. Any experience of reconciling a conflict should be a role-model for us.

Yossi, you need to know that the Palestinians started their resistance against your unjust policies with peaceful demonstrations on the streets, then it escalated to throwing stones on the soldiers, then guns and bombs and nowadays the Palestinians possess rockets and nobody knows what  means of resistance will follow if the Israeli occupation continues.

Let us not give the radicals opportunity to control and ruin our lives. Let us not give them a chance to cause more suffering on both sides.

I want to focus on how we can reach an agreement. I don’t want to waste more energy and time on arguments of Jewish nationhood and indigenous people. I don’t want to go back to the British mandate nor Balfour declaration. I don’t want to waste more time discussing the establishment on the State of Israel and how the Arab World contributed to the Palestinian suffering by encouraging them to leave their lands, claiming that they should evacuate till they defeated the Jews.
I don’t want all of this because these are useless arguments and they will get us nowhere.

I don’t want us to go back to the fundamental role the Brits played in our crisis and the way they were biased against the Palestinians but supported Jews and their militant Zionist organizations back then.

I don’t want to talk more about the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, West Bank and Gaza. I don’t want to feel more pain by recalling how desperate their lives are.

Last but not least, I want to talk a little bit about the Holocaust.

I want you to know that nobody denies this inhumane crisis that shamed the entire humanity. I watched and read about the trials of the Nazis. I read what the survivors told and what they witnessed in the concentration camps. I recognize your pain and their suffering after all that I read.

However, and I don’t want to upset you, I recognize that massacre, but at the same time I have read a lot of books and reports and heard Jewish witnesses who claim that it was technically impossible to kill all those people, which causes me to think that there is an exaggeration regarding the numbers you are mentioning.

There is something else that I couldn’t understand so I would appreciate it if you could explain it to me:

I never thought that the fight between races will cause any country to massacre its people in such a horrible way. Is there any connection between the cooperation of the Jews and the Allies in the First World War against Germany? Does this reason stand behind the Holocaust?

As far as I know that there was Jewish army corps in the British Army back then. This corps was sent to Palestine after the War in order to serve as the base for the future Israeli Army.

Was the Holocaust exploited by the Zionist movement in order to find a solution for the Jewish issue, as Obama explained in his speech at AlAzhar?

Please explain this to me.

I believe that politicians are not angels, on the contrary: They would create a horrible crisis for the sake of their hidden interests of achieving a hidden agenda.

Finally, I would love to be your guest next Sukkot. I want us to prove to our politicians that we can coexist and share a lot of things together, even after 71 years of fighting each other.

Best regards

Salah