To my Israeli neighbor,

 

My dear neighbor Yossi Klein Halevi,

 

I have read your letters to our Palestinian neighbour since I am your neighbor from Egypt and thus, both you and the Palestinian are my neighbors, and in fact, it is a book which is written in the form of letters that address all the neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa – all of those who are affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

I liked your narration of the israeli point of view very much and how you presented it to the native Arabic speakers. You have shared things which most of us are unaware of because in fact, a very small number of people here know that Judaism isn’t only a religion but a nation as well.

 

Our people have been misled for decades, not only concerning your side of the truth, your people, your religion, your history and your nation in general, but also regarding the history and the facts concerning your Jewish brothers who lived among us, Arabs, and were our parents’ and our grandparents’ neighbors.

 

They have portrayed the image of the Jew to us in the ugliest and most degrading manner in order to guarantee that they could raise us on hating Jews and this would create a wall between us so that neither side could hear, read about nor talk to the other. They wanted to maintain the fear from you, make us forget all our economical, social and political problems and remain silent and obedient, because, as we say in Arabic: “no sound is louder than that of a battle”. 

 

Then your “letters” came out to reveal a lot of things and open a door for communication and discussion between the neighbours of the Middle East, especially on the internet, where no one can stop an Arab from communicating with a native Hebrew speaker.

 

The letters offer a lot of facts regarding Jews and Judaism, which could be new to many Arabic speakers, and may contribute in creating harmony between people in this region. Except the book did not focus on the culture of these Arab communities that have been raised on arrogance, and on the concept of “the best nation brought to humanity”, according to their beliefs. You, my dear neighbour, explained the concept of “God’s chosen people” in a rational humane way where you deny any privilege or supremacy, and iI honestly don’t know if that’s agreed upon by the majority of Jews.

 

The majority of Muslim and native Arabic speaking communities are raised on being arrogant, refusing to accept and even hating the other, so as you see, it is not only about Jews; It targets every non-Muslim, even if he/she speaks Arabic, or even if he/she were a neighbour residing in the same building and sharing the same history and traditions. Our culture devalues women and is hostile towards non-Arabic speaking people, such as Nubians, Amazighs and Kurds. We are simply raised on hating anybody who’s different.

The current crisis we are facing is widely cultural. It is related to the culture of Jihad, Martyrdom and anti-life, and perhaps this is the reason why so many people lost hope in the future and are willing to commit suicide attacks, fantasizing about a better life after death due to the promises they have been given. The Arab culture, as you see, glorifies war, sword and weapons over a pen. That’s why you can find uneducated people knowing about Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, Salah Eddine and Qutuz, but completely ignorant about Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd or Al-Khawarizmi.

 

It is a cultural crisis that places us in a tragic state on all levels and makes the solution of all our problems very difficult to attain because it requiers a multi-dimensional change of thought: we must reconsider our entire culture and ideology and even interpretations of our religious texts since we are even are hostile towards any Muslim who is not Sunni.

 

That is why it is not only about Jews, even if they were damaged the most by this hostile culture that does not accept differences and wants to eliminate other groups or at least control/rule over them.

 

That’s why I see that the solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only about accepting each side’s part of the story, but is rather a part of a bigger comprehensive solution that must aim at turning the Arab-Islamic culture into a more open and more accepting the other. When we accomplish this we will be able to accept and embrace the Jewish story.

Perhaps there still is a long road ahead till this happens but I am hopeful because the process has already started !

 

Your neighbor,

 

Moomen Sallam

 

From Alexandria, Egypt

Email: moomens@yahoo.com

– Editor & co-founder of www.Civicegypt.org  since February, 2011 till 2019.

– Speaker in several cultural & political conference & Events.

https://www.youtube.com/user/moomens/videos

https://www.inssconference.com/speakers

– Co-author of “Egypt and Israel: Forty Years in the Desert of Cold Peace” with Dr. Offir Winter.  INSS, Tel Aviv, Strategic Assessment, Volume 20, No. 3, October 2017.

http://www.inss.org.il/publication/egypt-israel-forty-years-desert-cold-peace/

– Author of several articles in various websites, Civic Egypt, Copts United, Ahl Al Quran, Al-Mowaten and other Websites. Almania (Secularism) Magazin, magazin issued & distribute in Alexandria University.

– Author of Al-almania Bebassata, “ABC Secularism”, & Al-liberalia Bebassata “ABC Liberalism” (EBooks).

– Ex- Coordinator of Zomra Cultural Seminar, based in Jesuit cultural Center, Alexandria (Weekly seminar).

– Co-founder of Egyptian Secular Party (under construction)

– Member of International Advisory Board of Raif Badawi Foundation.

– Ex-Secretary of Training and Culture Committee, Free Egyptians Party, Alexandria

– Ex-Secretary of Culture Committee, Muslim Brothers Movement, University of Alexandria

– Ex-Member of Student Union, Faculty of Commerce, University of Alexandria