Dear Yossi,

I hope all is well with you.

I have read Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor and found it immensely interesting in the beginning by virtue of the fact that it emotionally stirred me and compelled me to continue reading until I arrived at the part in which you delved into the religious aspects of the conflict. 

At this point I was reminded of all those old painful stories and, to be honest, I don’t think that it is possible to solve our problems through religion. The key to solving these problems is through a humanistic approach.

Religion is very private and it is hard to accept someone whose actions rely solely on his beliefs since the stories in which each one believes might be perceived as mere legends and myths by others. I was hoping to read a book that focuses mainly on the present and collects human stories of both Israelis and Palestinians without getting into religion, because from my experience religion divides rather than unites us.

There are some beautiful personal stories in your book, such as the one about your friend Shimon, the Ethiopian Jew, which really touched my heart. The story of Shimon reminds me of the Yemenite Jews who tried so hard to hold on to their lands in Yemen but their condition only worsened as they became victims of racism and humiliation, and this saddens me deeply.

I think that when we focus on the present and the current reality it is possible to find a common ground as a base for dialogue.

On one hand I find religion to be a source of division. On the other hand, I know that there are non-religious or even Atheist people amongst Israelis, Palestinians and us, and yet they’re still hostile towards one another. Thus, I don’t think that this conflict is solely based on religion.

I would like to thank you, Yossi Klein Halevi, for your precious efforts and I respect your views no matter how much we may disagree.

Sending my best wishes to you,

Bint Sana’a from Yemen