My review of the book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor:


I personally love the Iraqi Jews.

I am an Iraqi Muslim and our fathers and grandfathers told us a lot about the Iraqi Jews who lived among us; the good relations they shared whilst living together in Iraq, back then. They also recounted how deeply saddened they were when the Jews left Iraq in the early 1950s. It makes me so happy when I meet Iraqi Jews abroad, especially when they introduce themselves as such. We always hug each other and engage in long conversations. I honestly believe that if Iraqi Jews had never left, life in Iraq would have been a lot better.

We, Muslims, believe in the Prophet Moses, peace be upon him. Islam taught us that Moses was one of the five prophets to whom we refer as Ulu AlAaazm – the five prophets who represent perseverance and strong will in spreading the monotheistic message among their peoples; Noah, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad.

I have some criticism regarding Israeli policies but I would like to make myself clear: criticizing Israel doesn’t mean that I am criticizing the Jewish people. I wanted to make this clear because I believe that Jews are good, honest and peaceful people. This is what I believe and this is also what my grandfather used to tell me.

I started reading the book and considered it interesting. The book was balanced and Yossi, the author, was objective in his discourse when he addressed the controversial issues regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Yossi emphasized the humane perspective and, after all, we are all, on both sides, human beings descended from Adam. 

But ever since the politicians drew borders between countries, conflicts arose. These politicians created fights and wars for their own interests and their political parties’ interests. People were free to wander and travel wherever they wished when the world was free of national borders; this is why I hate borders.

I believe that justice is a fundamental tenet of any search for a peaceful solution to this conflict. We will live in peace when we are ruled by just regimes who see their citizens as equal, irrespective of race, religion and opinion. However, I also believe that most politicians do not want us to live in peace because that would threaten their own interests.

I cannot imagine how beautiful Jerusalem will be when Muslims, Christians and Jews worship God together in peace. Just as Yossi put it: this piece of land is enough for all of us, so let us just share it. Let us leave war, hatred and conflict behind and just live together in peace. We, the average people on both sides, are not politicians, so I believe that we can achieve this.

I agree with what Yossi said and the manner in which he wants to bring us together: through religion and our shared connection to our great grandfather, Ibrahim. I really cannot find any reason that would cause us to hate each other because we are all sons of Ibrahim, peace be upon him.

I really hope that the situation gets better so that we can visit Israel, Palestine and the holy places on this land.

Furthermore, I have some questions to which I could not find answers in Yossi’s book. I would like to ask him in the hope that he will respond to me:

1-What are the reasons behind the historical persecution of the Jews over the centuries?

2-Yossi spoke in his book about the violent protests against Jews in Baghdad. I was born in 1967 but I really don’t know about such events. As far as I know, Jews left Iraq willingly. Even my mother told me that she had a Jewish neighbour and when she asked her for the reason behind leaving Iraq, the Jewish lady said that this was what her religion demanded of her. My mom felt so sad that her neighbor had to leave. At the same time, I have known an Iraqi Jewish man who lived in Iraq until he passed away. Could you, then, please elaborate on this for me?

3-Why are half of the Jewish people living in Israel while the other half are still living in exile?

I would be grateful if Yossi could answer my questions.

I would just like to end my letter by quoting Imam Ali: This quotation represents a fundamental concept that explains what the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims should be based on. Imam Ali categorized each and every human being under one of these two categories: “If he is not your brother in religion, then surely, he is your brother in humanity”.

Again, I hope that one day I will be able to meet you, Yossi, in Israel and in Palestine.

God Willing, inshallah.

Ibrahim from Iraq