Salamu Aalaykum,

This year, the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage coincides with the Jews’ commemoration of the destruction of their temple on the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av. This period of time unites our religions because it is precisely on these days that the prophet Moses – peace be upon him – had to fast for ten additional days, having fasted for the already-prescribed 30 days, whilst atop Mount Sinai. Allah created the beautiful timings and coalescence of such dates, May He protect and save us all from all sorts of evil and harm.

I have so far read more than 75 pages of your book and have now reached the seventh letter. I’m hoping to finish the entire book in the coming days, InshaAllah. However, in the meantime, I’d like to write a response about what I’ve read until this point, and I’ll hopefully write more when I finish the rest of the book.

The State of Israel is beautiful and so are the letters of the book which, I feel, reflect the goodness of the author’s soul. The letters demonstrate recognition of the other and strive towards peace and coexistence, although one thing is lacking; the pictures to which the author refers in his book.

Overall, the letters are grounded in reality and focus on the historical right of the Jewish people to return to their promised land; a right which is also recognised in the Quran in the following Ayah: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah ‘s cause] and [thus] become losers.” {Al-Maidah:21}

The letters also support the Palestinians’ right to an independent state, side by side with Israel. This could, in fact, constitute a permanent, reasonable and easy-to-achieve solution if only enough will and honest intention were to be found on both sides. Israelis and Palestinians both have the right to exist on this land, irrespective of their conflicting narratives.

The letters explain and clarify many things about faith and belief in one God. However, in the third and fifth letters, Yossi hints that Abraham – peace be upon him – was either a Jew or that he started Judaism. Such an idea contradicts the creed of every Muslim, based on the following Ayah:“Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah ]. And he was not of the polytheists.”{Al-Imran:67}
Perhaps what Yossi means in these letters is that Judaism is, just like Islam and Christianity, an extension of the Abrahamic belief, even though Judaism itself only began with Moses, who, upon meeting God, accompanied by seventy of his people, said in his prayer: “inna Hudna ilayka”, meaning: we have returned/repented to You, Al-Aaraf:156 (translators’ note: many Muslims believe that the term ‘Yahud’ stems from the word Hudnaa which literally means “we repented” and has nothing to do with the term Hudnah/ceasefire, which is spelled differently).

I would like to thank the author for pointing out the fact that Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, upon liberating Jerusalem, didn’t expel the Jews, allowing many of them to stay in the city. The existence of Israel is not a form of occupation because Jews were legitimate landowners, as attested to by Ottoman-era documents which prove that they purchased the land from Palestinians in the 1920s. In fact, the Jews often purchased land at a price that was 5000 times its actual worth.

On the matter of the return of B’nei Israel to their historic land, it is worth noting that the first to come back were the Arab Jews; those who came from Yemen, Al-Sham, Libya, Morocco and Africa. These Jews returned even before the European Jews (Ashkenazim).

I believe that history should be read objectively through the deployment of logic and reason, and not driven by emotion. It was this absence of objectivity and appeal to reason in their interpretation of history that led the Palestinians to reject the partition plan in 1947, thus bringing about much war and bloodshed. If the Palestinians and Arabs had accepted it, we would have avoided all these wars and disputes, and the Palestinians would be in a better condition than that which they are currently in. They would be living side by side with Israel, rather than having their wealth and resources exploited by external parties whilst living under authoritarian dictatorships which base their legitimacy on slogans referring to “the Palestinian cause” or by rallying people to “fight Israel”.

I cherish the author’s neutrality and transparency whilst speaking about the displacement of Palestinians, specifically with regards to its reasons and causes, and I am likewise touched by his sympathy for the victims. If the Palestinians hadn’t abandoned their property and fled elsewhere, or if they hadn’t feared for what might have happened to them if they were to stay in Israel, the West Bank or Gaza, they surely would have been better off than they are now, living in refugee camps scattered across the Arab and non-Arab world.

The fifth letter is exceptionally wise and I love in particular how the author quoted the expression coined by the novelist A. B. Yehoshua, “a struggle between ‘right and right’”. It is incredibly beautiful and remarkably accurate, implying that both parties should make concessions towards the other in order to move on and make peace.

Regarding the seventh letter, I appreciate how Yossi refers to Ibrahim as an individual who brings both religions (Islam and Judaism) together. I likewise love his relaying of the story of the sacrifice of Ismail, the figure from whom our prophet descends. All Muslims believe that Judaism originates from the prophet Jacob/Israel, the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham, because according to the holy Quran, Monotheism, and not Judaism, was the religion of Abraham.

I think that the Torah’s verse mentioned in the sixth chapter of the book “ Justice, justice shall you pursue, that you may thrive and occupy the land that Adonai your God is giving you” [Deuteronomy 16:20] complies with the 6th, 7th and 8th Ayat of Surat Al-Israa’: “Then˹after your repentance˺ We would give you the upper hand over them and aid you with wealth and offspring, causing you to outnumber them – If you act rightly, it is for your own good, but if you do wrong, it is to your own loss. And when the second warning would come to pass, your enemies would ˹be left to˺ totally disgrace you and enter the Temple ˹of Jerusalem˺ as they entered it the first time, and utterly destroy whatever would fall into their hands.”

This also strengthens the idea that pursuing justice is Allah’s condition for Israel to continue to function as a state, and that when justice is absent, Allah’s punishment awaits in the form of another exile.

Warm regards,

Dr. Abdullah S. from Saudi Arabia