Dear Yossi,

I suspect that with the current events unravelling in the Middle East, watching Arab and Muslim Gulf nations embrace peace with and recognize Israel must feel like as much of a dream to you as it does to me. 

It was the announcement of a peace deal between the UAE and Israel that got me excited enough about the hope for peace to write about my experience of growing up in the UAE, how I viewed Israel and Jews in the past, and how that view changed fundamentally.

https://forward.com/opinion/452698/i-grew-up-amidst-anti-semitism-in-the-uae-peace-with-israel-is-a-dream/?utm_source=PostUp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Saturday%20Newsletter%20RSS_cl

These events paved the way to your book and project – Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. 

The book and the project revolving around it are so important not only for Palestinians, but as of now, for every citizen of the Middle East. 

In light of the acceptance on the political level between nations, there now needs to be acceptance from the people themselves.

Take my case as an example: as A Lebanese Muslim living in the UAE I was able to change my views regarding Israel in particular and Jews in general. 

I started having open discussions with the people I had always been convinced I hated, whom I believed it was my duty, as a Muslim and an Arab, to hate. 

I started to open my eyes to our shared humanity not only as human beings, but also as cousins. The more lwe conduct these sorts of discussions, the more we can find our commonalities.

The manner in which you have laid out the letters from your point of view is filled with such empathy, understanding and respect for your targeted reader. 

It is not a smug justification sent from a conqueror to the conquered, but rather a man looking for a compromise to solve his moral dilemma, the victor trying to embrace the defeated.  

It is a beautiful way to start a dialogue by explaining what people share in common without undermining their differences.  After reading some of the responses to your letters, I realized that not everyone arrived at the conclusion that I did. 

Regardless, I encourage Arabs, Muslims and Christians alike to read this book and participate in this open discussion.

An honorable project that has the goal of peace between neighbors. Of course, there are some more nuances and elaborations to be made, which is why encouraging the reader to write back is the most important aspect of this project. 

The Middle East is a web of complexities and you will find many points of view on a single topic alone, and the only way to understand each point of view is through the courageous exchange of ideas and dialogue espoused on your page and website. 

Now that peace has been made between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain – and there are encouraging rumors of more countries who wish to join – a lasting peace in this region may happen in our lifetime. It is my hope that soon we will witness how the citizens of these countries are willing to hold conversations with the neighbors whose existence they have been forbidden to acknowledge.

I had a wonderful time reading this book, and with the new peace treaties from the UAE and Bahrain my hope is that more Arabs and Muslims in the region will have the same experience.

Mujahed Kobbe – American Lebanese