Can peace be considered a religious message that is restricted by politics?

The author, Yossi Klein Halevi, says that peace starts with both sides’ ability to listen to each other’s narrative which in turn paves the road to peaceful coexistence. This road can be paved if both sides focus on what unites them as monotheistic religions and faiths.

Yossi also contends that the psychological separation or barrier that accompanies this conflict has bred ignorance about identity and narrative amongst Palestinians and Israelis. There is, he says, a central issue currently disregarded by the Palestinian side, namely the importance of the Land of Israel in the Israeli collective identity and the establishment of the State of Israel.

The Israeli left-wing linked the Israeli narrative and the establishment of the State of Israel to the violence in 1948 (if Israel were not attacked, it would not need to defend itself by taking over more land during war). At the same time, both secular and religious Jews connected the establishment of the current state of Israel to their ancient longing for this land, as written in the Psalms: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not; if I set not Jerusalem above my utmost joy”. They never abandoned nor forgot this land during their exile.

Yossi then explains the underlying factors of confrontation resulting from thorny issues such as the settlement movement and the absence of a Palestinian partner willing to compromise, share the land and find a solution.

Palestinians reject the concept of Jewish peoplehood, so they don’t believe Jews deserve any national sovereignty on this land. 

Yossi also detailed the long years of conflict over each side’s legitimacy and how the United Nations’ resolutions failed to bring about religiously-orientated peace or spiritually-based good relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

The former Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, managed to forge a sort of a cold peace between Egypt and Israel simply because he failed to defeat Israel in 1973.

I think the murder of Israeli prime minister Rabin also represented the assassination of the Two State Solution which the Israeli right-wing buried in seizing control of Israel’s leadership.

I wonder whether these two peoples who have been fighting each other for almost a century can reach an agreement based on religious narratives that do not support unity between the two nations.

Foreigners interfere in Gaza, claiming that they want to make peace. Yet, at the same time, division riddles Palestinian society and politics, and the Palestinian people are paying the price.

Letters to my Palestinian Neighbour is a message of humane feelings that addresses collective consciousness on both sides, but it does not address the mistakes throughout history that must be corrected. Both my neighbor and I share a love of drinking coffee, but we drink it differently with different bitter memories.

I cannot see the light from my little window because of the separation wall. At the same time, this wall doesn’t let my neighbour feel the warmth in my little heart.


Rasha from Iraq 



To read Yossi’s response check this link