To my Israeli neighbor,

 My dear neighbor Yossi Klein Halevi,

 I have read your letters to our Palestinian neighbor as your neighbor from Egypt. Both you and the Palestinian are my neighbors. In fact, your book, written in the form of letters, addresses all the neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa – all those who are affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I very much liked your narration of the Israeli point of view and appreciated how you presented it to native Arabic speakers. You have shared things about which most of us are unaware because, in fact, very few here know that Judaism is not just 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 facts concerning your Jewish brothers who lived amongst 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 raise us on hating Jews and thus create a wall between us to prohibit both sides from hearing from, reading about and talking to the other. They wanted to maintain the fear of you, make us forget all our economic, 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” were published to reveal new facts 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 much information regarding Jews and Judaism which could be new to many Arabic speakers, and may contribute to promoting 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 belief that they are “the best nation brought to humanity”. You, my dear neighbor, explained the concept of “God’s chosen people” in a rational humane way in which you deny any privilege or supremacy, and I honestly don’t know if that’s how the majority of Jews see it.

The majority of Muslim and native Arabic speaking communities are raised on being arrogant, refusing to accept – or even hating – the other. As you see, it is not only about Jews; all non-Muslims – even if they are Arabic speakers, close neighbors or inheritors of the same history and traditions – are victims to this mindset. 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 have lost hope in the future and are willing to commit suicide attacks, fantasizing about a better life after death promised by religious leaders. The Arab culture, as you can see, glorifies war, sword and weapons over the pen. This is why you can find uneducated people knowing about Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, Salah Eddine and Qutuz whilst at the same time being completely ignorant about Ibn Sina, Ibn Rushd or Al-Khawarizmi.

It is a cultural crisis that leaves us in a lamentable state on all levels and renders solving our problems immensely difficult; it requires a multi-dimensional change of thought. Our hostility is so potent that we are hateful even towards any non-Sunni Muslim. Consequently, we must reconsider our entire culture and ideology and even interpretations of our religious texts.

It is thus clear that the problem here goes well beyond the strained relationship between Muslims and Jews, even though Jews have suffered the most at the hands of this hostile culture that shuns differences and wants to eliminate or rule over other groups. That’s why I see the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as not merely a matter of accepting each side’s narrative, but rather part of a bigger comprehensive solution that must seek to transform Arab-Islamic culture into a more open and accepting one. Once we accomplish this, we will be able to accept and embrace the Jewish story.

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

Your neighbor,

Moomen Sallam

From Alexandria, Egypt


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

– Speaker in several cultural & political conference & Events.

– 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.

– 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