The Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi wrote a book called Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. The book’s cover features a drawing of an olive branch consisting of ten leaves, symbolizing the ten letters addressing his Palestinian neighbour; The Wall Between Us, Need and Longing, Fate and Destiny, Narrative and Presence, Six Days and Fifty Years, The Partition of Justice, Isaac and Ishmael, The Israeli Paradox, Victims and Survivors and A Booth at the Edge of the Desert.

However, the neighbor about whom the author fantasizes is a weak one who agrees with everything that is written in the book. The author is asking the Palestinian victim to sympathize with his Israeli oppressor.

The author attempts to find commonalities shared by Palestinians and Jews on matters of religion, humanity and land for the purpose of promoting coexistence and peace. The book deploys poetic techniques to paint a rosy picture of the occupation. The book justifies Israeli security measures by describing alleged security needs.

Israel has remained the enemy of the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims ever since it was established. The Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims never committed any attacks against the Jews before the establishment of the State of Israel.

In Yossi’s eyes, the Palestinian has to accept the historical right of the Jews to live in Palestine just because Europe got rid of its Jews. He uses this as a justification for the Jews’ claim over the land.

In fact, the existence of Israel is merely a result of the Palestinians’ political, economic and technological disadvantage. However, this unfortunate situation will not last forever. Nothing lasts forever; no matter how much Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu would like to think so, for history follows the law of change.

The author calls for mutual acceptance of the other as a path for emotional and spiritual reconciliation. I believe that this could be possible only if Palestinians and Jews were to be on the same level of political power or else when the Palestinians rise above their suffering and agree on living in one civil, secular and democratic state with the Jews.

Bottom line, neither side will eliminate the other. But the pragmatic question here is: will Israel give up on Zionism’s core principles of Jewish statehood for the sake of achieving an everlasting peaceful solution in Palestine and the entire region? 

Haitham Fadel


To read Yossi’s response check this link