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: They told us about the good relations they had with them while they were living together in Iraq, back then. They told us how deeply saddened they were when the Jews left Iraq in the beginning of the 50s of the 20th century. I feel so happy when I meet Iraqi Jews abroad, especially when they introduce themselves as Iraqi Jews. We always hug each other and engage in a long conversation. 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 whom we refer to as Ulu AlAaazm – the five prophets who represent perseverance and strong will in spreading the monotheistic message among their peoples. Those prophets are: Noah, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad.

However, I have some criticism regarding the Israeli policies but I would like to make myself clear: criticising Israel doesn’t mean that I am criticising 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 found 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 eventually we, on both sides, are human beings who are all descendants of Adam. 
 
But ever since the politicians drew borders between countries the conflicts arose. Those politicians created fights and wars over their own interests and their political parties’ interests. People were free to wander and travel wherever they wished to when this world was free of borders between countries; this is why I hate borders.
I believe that justice is a fundamental aspect in finding a peaceful solution to this conflict. We will live in peace when we are ruled by just regimes who see their citizens as equal regardless of their race, their religion and their views.  But I believe that most politicians do not want us to live in peace because this peace  threatens their own interests.
I cannot imagine how beautiful Jerusalem will be when Muslims, Christians and Jews worship God together in peace. Just like Yossi put it: this piece of land is enough for all of us, so let us just share it. Let us leave wars, hatred and conflicts behind and just live together in peace. We, the average people on both sides, are not politicians, so I believe that we can make it.

I agree with what Yossi said and the manner in which he wants to bring us together: through the religious aspect, 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 and I would like to ask him, hoping he will respond to me:

1-What were the reasons behind the historical persecution that the Jews went through over 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 her to do. My mom felt so sad that her neighbour had to leave. At the same time I have known an Iraqi Jewish man who lived in Iraq until he passed away, so could you, please, elaborate about 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 so grateful if Yossi could answer my questions.

I would just like to end my letter by quoting Imam Ali: This quote 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 couple of 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