Thoughts about the first letter – The Wall Between Us


Before sharing my thoughts regarding the first letter of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, I would like to pass on my warm regards to the great writer, Yossi, and his team. I wish you all success in your wonderful work.

The introduction and the first letter taught me something about Yossi and his blessed efforts to achieve peace between both nations. I encountered an intellectual and balanced writer, a wonderful thinker with a pure soul. Yossi deserves much respect and appreciation for his efforts and dedication. I believe that a project like Yossi’s requires the cooperation of people who are capable of handling such a heavy task, and I believe that Yossi and his team are the right people for such work.

Here are my thoughts regarding the first letter:

1-     Regarding both sides’ narratives: I believe that there is space for commonality in both narratives, but at the same time there are separate issues that are unique and define each one. Because of this, we have to accept the common issues and focus on the similarities but at the same time respect the uniqueness of each narrative. 

We should also stand up against the delusions, lies and twisted stories that each side tells about the other’s narrative, especially those coming from the Arab world. We have to work together on mutual understanding, recognition and cooperation so that both narratives will be able to coexist with, rather than replace, one another.

2-     There is no doubt that the Middle East is a homeland for the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Quran mentions the land of Israel in so many verses, and this is an explicit recognition of the Jewish narrative: it recognizes Jews as a people and as followers of a certain religion. If we were to conduct DNA tests in the Arab world, we would find that Jewish DNA exists among Muslims and Christians because of the shared history on this land. So many Jews and Christians converted to Islam, both in recent times and in the past.

3-     From a religious Muslim perspective, the Quran assures the right of Bnei Israel to live in their homeland, not only in Israel but in their shared homeland with Arabs and Muslims all the way from the Nile to the Euphrates.

4-     Yossi’s book has shed light on issues that stir so many emotions that accompany this conflict. I would like to add that there is a major problem in the Arab World, namely the mentality of the Arab regimes. This mentality has tremendous influence on the people they rule. 

The conflict is going to continue as long as the same mentality and regimes rule the Arab World. They control the conflict by inciting their people and accusing their opposition of being traitors who stab Arabs in the back by cooperating with Israel and the West. This gives Arab regimes justification to persecute their opponents who speak the truth. It is therefore impossible for the truth to be uncovered, because nobody dares talk about it under such a pall of persecution.

Unfortunately, so many media outlets and religious figures have been employed and exploited for the sake of brainwashing and twisting the truth regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In the past one would witness countless journalists, intellectuals and religious figures on the media calling for the destruction of Israel, claiming that this would end the misery in the Arab and the Muslim world. But I think that since the Arab Spring, the mentality has somewhat changed. Nowadays you hear more and more Arab voices on social media talking about accepting Israel and ending the era of lying and deception in order to open a new chapter in this region and let a flourishing future begin.

A new page in which Arabs and Jews live together based on mutual recognition, understanding and cooperation in order to create a better future and more dignified life for the generations to come.

5-     Regarding Palestinian leaders and the absence of genuine intentions to solve the conflict and achieve peace on their part, I think that this leadership materialized at a time when the ideology of Arab nationalism greatly influenced the Arab mindset, an ideology basically built upon the idea of wiping Israel off the map. There must be an alternative: a new Palestinian open-minded leadership that will guide Palestinians toward a better life.

6-     We must dedicate immense effort, on both sides, to open this new chapter in Arab-Israeli relations. I believe that this can start with establishing a civil-social-movement based on civil and human values. This party will present its goals to the Arab youth and recruit open-minded Arab intellectuals who believe in the possibility of creating peaceful coexistence and justice for all. This party should be a part of the Arab leadership and must be influential in each and every Arab country, including the West Bank and Gaza.

7-     I believe that the economic situation plays a major role in creating this change. Wherever there is poverty, you find incitement and violence. This is why I believe that one of the movement’s main duties would be to better Arab and the Palestinian lives. There must be dramatic improvement in so many aspects of people’s civic life in order for them to actually experience and feel change.

8-     There must be a joint team of Arabs and Jews working together to locate the sources of incitement and uproot them. There is much work to be done on the Muslim side in order to foster a modern understanding of the peaceful message of Islam. Politicians have cynically exploited the void that created space for so much misunderstanding of many Islamic concepts and this has poured more fuel on the fire of this conflict.  

I believe that such steps are possible, and because of this I have offered my own interpretations of Islamic concepts which differ from the typical way Muslims understand them. This vision of better understanding Islam can pave the road in the Arab and the Muslim worlds towards peaceful coexistence with Israelis based on a just peace for all – the just peace we are all aspiring to reach. I have published and offered my vision on many occasions online.

9-     Iraq and Iraqi Jews must play a significant role in the process of creating peace in this region. I believe that if Iraq were ruled by a secular, civil government it could play a better role in leading the entire Middle East towards positive changes.

10- I believe that Tel Aviv can serve as the political capital of Israel while Jerusalem can be a global capital for all religions. People from all religious backgrounds should be able to pray in Jerusalem. We should all cooperate to rebuild Solomon’s Temple so that people from all over the world will be able to visit this holy place that represents the great Jewish history and civilization.

I will continue reading and will send you more of my thoughts as I read the rest of the letters.

My regards



My notes on the second letter Need and longing:

The words of this letter moved me greatly. I think they would touch any reader who considers himself a free man. It was a well-written letter and here are my thoughts which I hope will enrich the dialogue and thus create a better future for all:

1- The Arab media has contributed a lot to misleading and deceiving Arabs. Arabs are very ignorant about the Israeli side and this works to the benefit of what the media aims to achieve. I believe that the vast majority of Arabs don’t even know the meaning of Zion nor do they understand why you call yourselves Zionists. I bet that if Al-Jazeera went out to the Arab street, asking people about the meaning of Zion and Zionism, they would barely find any correct answers. This ignorance poses a real threat and requires a lot of work to educate Arabs through the media in order to combat cunningly deceptive content and replace it with the truth.

This education must start with information; such as that supplied in your letter which teaches us a great number of important issues relating to your side. This process of counter-education must be done wisely and carefully because there are so many political and religious institutions in the Arab world that deliberately spread twisted and deceptive information about the Israeli side.

2- Your book raises so many questions in the reader’s mind. At the outset you might think that there were no answers to these unrealistic questions, but then you discover them as you continue reading. For instance, you raised the issue of Jewish salvation and how your return to the land of Israel was fulfilled, while your salvation hasn’t been fulfilled yet.

In my view, the real salvation will be fulfilled when Israel moves forward in leading the Middle East and establishing a huge federation with the Arab countries, a federation that is based on equality for everybody in this region. This federal state will also assure that Israel remains a Jewish state in this greater new Middle East. I believe that Israel will play a major role in the leadership of the broader new Middle East, with civil leadership that represents everyone in this region.

This obviously requires an educational and cultural revolution that raises awareness and targets future generations, mainly in the Arab and Muslim world. It must be led by open-minded intellectual elites who believe in the idea of this inclusive civil state, and who believe in the importance of changing the current attitudes of Arab regimes towards Israel.

The Arab public must understand the importance of opening a new chapter by educating themselves and learning the truth about the Israeli side; the truth you successfully elaborated on in your second letter. The Arabs must understand what this beloved land means to you and how you have the right to establish your state on it.

I am fantasizing about the moment when Arab and Jewish youngsters will feel proud – instead of shame – to play, meet, talk and pray together. That moment when they consider themselves brothers who really understand and implement the message you envision in Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor.

I believe that the West must help us and contribute a lot in order to fulfill this vision for the sake of establishing a flourishing future for all. The United Nations and its organizations must play a major role in this mission.

3- I wholeheartedly support the reconstruction of the Temple of Solomon, peace be upon him, so that it will serve as an international monument and a global synagogue which will be open to Jews, Christians, Muslims, and everybody who wishes to worship God. It must be rebuilt and open for all human beings so that people from around the world can embrace this holy site and enjoy its magnificent beauty.

4- You addressed a very sensitive topic: the exodus of the Children of Israel. They left their land twice and many Arabs and Muslim leaders keep threatening that they will bring about your “third exodus”.

I believe that this land has enough space for everybody and the rhetoric of “kicking” anybody out of this land must be erased from our speech. I believe that we can live together under a federal state that is based on equality for all. This is the rhetoric that should replace the rhetoric of kicking the other out. 

5- You spoke of your concerns and fears and I completely understand them. You feel that you live in a place where things can erupt or explode at any moment due to the region’s instability.

I would like to tell you that I am working on a plan with a team who would like to make Israel and Iraq the leading countries and the two great powers of this region. I believe that Israel and Iraq can create a dramatic change in this region which will enable the creation of the civil federal state I have mentioned earlier. A joint Israeli-Iraqi team is crucially needed to fulfill this plan so that we can write a comprehensive road plan together and implement it.





Kadhim’s response to the third letter Fate and Destiny


First, I would like to wish you much success in your holy mission and the huge responsibility that you, Yossi, and your team, have taken upon your shoulders.

 Here are my notes on the third letter:

1-       In order to understand the meaning and purpose of our existence we must acknowledge and understand that God is just and merciful. This will help us abandon any act or behavior that contradicts a true understanding of God’s justice and mercy. We also have to understand that we all worship the same God, starting with the first human, Adam, until this day, but we simply worship Him in different ways.

I have read the Qur’an, the Torah and the Christian Bible and I understood their teachings and commitments. I even read Buddha’s teachings and realized that heaven and Paradise are the destiny of everyone who believes in the great Creator, no matter how, no matter which language one uses to worship Him or where, even if it’s in a deserted jungle.

2-        The Jewish return to the Land of Israel is a legitimate right but I believe that it was implemented in the wrong way. I also believe that Arab and Muslim leaders, especially the Ottomans, are fully responsible for pushing you, Jews, to practice your right this way. They should have welcomed, integrated and allowed you to be an integral part of this region. Arabs and Muslims could not absorb or include Jews as part of this region due to their deep prejudice towards them, even though the Quran instructs Muslims to treat the People of the Book respectfully and with justice.

3-       Yossi raised an important issue that Arabs must understand, which is the fact that Jews are considered both a people of a certain religion and a people of a nation. He went on to explain how secular Jews were different from secular Muslims. Secular Jews are considered Jews even if they don’t practice their religion, unlike in Islam. I consider this a very important piece of information regarding the concept of the Jewish people.

4-       Arab-Jewish relations are based on justice, not on who is stronger and who is weaker. No power lasts forever except the power of love and justice between peoples. Both nations have to work together to build a flourishing future for all, and our current unfortunate reality must change. We are all human beings and we all make mistakes. This is a part of our nature; but the most important thing is having the courage and the wisdom to correct these mistakes. Nobody should be blamed for being proud of their identity, no matter how they distinguish themselves; as Jews, Muslims, Christians or anyone other group.

5-       So many Quranic verses explain how Islam perceives the People of the Book, that is, Jews and Christians. I don’t think many Jews know about these verses and this is what causes prejudice towards Muslims. The rhetoric of hatred and hostility is unfortunately dominant, but it is not an authentic reflection of Islam. Islam outlines a perfectly sufficient and clear plan on how to conduct relations between Muslims and Jews. There are no verses in the Quran that talk about killing Jews or fighting them.

I would like to share with you some of the verses that discuss how relations between Muslims and Jews should be conducted:

–       Holy Quran 2:190 : “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress”

–       Holy Quran 2:47: “O Children of Israel, remember My favor that I have bestowed upon you and that I preferred you over the worlds”

–       Holy Quran 7:159: “And among the people of Moses is a community which guides by truth and by it establishes justice”.

–       Holy Quran 3:64: “Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve”.

–       Holy Quran 3:113: “O People of the Scripture, come to a word that is equitable between us and you – that we will not worship except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah.” But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims submitting to Him”

–       Holy Quran 3:11: “They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous”

–       Holy Quran 29:46: “And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him”.

–       Holy Quran 16:125: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided”

–       Quran 16:126: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers”.

–       Holy Quran 49:13: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted”.

–       Holy Quran 41:33: “And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah and does righteousness and says, “Indeed, I am of the Muslims”.

–       Holy Quran 41:34: “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend”.

I end my notes on the third letter with this: There are hundreds of generous Quranic verses that explain how we can build beautiful, noble and humane relationships with each other, but unfortunately Arabs and Muslims do not focus on this approach. 

We need cooperation between all human beings in order to live in peace. There is hard work that awaits us all, so one of my ideas is to put together a team of both Arabs and Jews that will educate and guide the Arab and Islamic community to understand the importance of this cooperation, get rid of extremism and terror and strengthen the role of modern and open-minded intellectuals. 

This approach was supported by President Trump and many Arab and Muslim figures and leaders.  We will do more to push this forward and I am absolutely confident that you, Yossi, will contribute even more to create a flourishing future for future generations. Our children deserve a better and a more dignified life. Arabs, Israelis and even international organizations can cooperate to achieve this. Even the film industry, Hollywood, can contribute to creating positive and productive projects that can facilitate our mission to create a better future for all.

My sincere greetings,




My response to the fourth letter Narrative and Presence


My dear beloved, I have read the fourth letter which revolves around the historical high points presented by the inspiring author Yossi Klein Halevi, whose words I found to be neutral and fair. Yossi has both the heart and mind of a righteous man, of a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons, may peace be upon them all.

I find that each of the thoughts expressed in this letter requires a huge amount of mutual effort to turn them into reality, which will someday be a normal part of our lives. 

We cannot deny the painful and sad parts of each side’s story, and I wish that everyone appreciates the warmth and nobility of the feelings that accompanied the author’s writing in sharing these stories with us. I wish we, Israelis and Arabs, could change ourselves for the better and help turn all his (Yossi’s) goals and dreams into reality.

Yossi inquired: “Was it possible to avoid the conflict”? 

It would have been possible if the Arab side had mustered enough courage and wisdom to accept the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and worked together to construct and lead a just country.

The author raised some questions about the Jewish shantytowns and the misery the Jews had endured. I wish it had been possible for both Arabs and Israelis to prevent these tragedies, because it is neither wise nor fair to celebrate the in-gathering of the Jewish people at the expense of exiling Arabs, who are originally Bnei Israel as well (the Arabic reference to the People of Israel, meaning that they are children of this land, too).

The solutions are possible, and compensations should be given and used efficiently:

we need a productive culture, not a consumptive one, and this requires the joint effort of many governmental agencies and organizations, all working together in full cooperation on replacing the Palestinian refugee camps with residential cities in a very short period of time.

Then we can invest in the human resources of those residents and turn them into a productive population that will contribute to replace the dark pages of the past with bright new ones; where people can enjoy a luxurious life, receive proper education and find jobs, build families and lead a humane revolution, opening the ways of communication between both nations so that they can discover each other’s stories.

All of this is possible: what we need is the participation of Arab and Israeli elites, cooperation between their nations’ humanitarian and civil society organisations, and the collaboration of their governments to form a joint agency that aims to extract us from this conflict and rivalry, and guide us toward fraternity and cooperation. If the governments of Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria demonstrate interest in this idea, it becomes possible to make formal peace in the region. This peace would enable us to step out of our cycle of fears and insecurities toward a new age of tolerance, flourishing, and coexistence – an age of a new culture when we will love and appreciate, respect and accept each other, and work together for the sake of making a better future for future generations of our both nations.

I am deeply grateful to all of you, Yossi and his team, and I hope your efforts result in new political efforts aimed at initiating plans, programs and projects that carry forward and bring to life the peaceful message of our much-respected Mr. Yossi.

Your Brother,




My response to the fifth letter Six Days and Fifty Years


I would like to begin my response by sending warm regards to Yossi and his team. 

Here are my thoughts regarding the main topics discussed in the fifth letter:

Yossi shed light on issues that brought pain and sadness to both sides. Yossi also discussed his motives for writing these letters to his neighbors. By reaching out to the Arab side, he hopes to pave the way toward a coexistence based on mutual understanding and recognition. 

Yossi tries to find dignified and just solutions for both peoples; solutions that may spare both peoples any future disputes. Dignified and just solutions will put an end to a conflict that has brought so much suffering to both sides for decades.

I don’t believe that security for both sides can be guaranteed so long as they reject mutual acceptance and recognition. 

I do believe that Arabs and Jews can live together and coexist on this land, but reaching this desired coexistence requires radical change. Arabs must be led by completely different regimes and leaders who can change the deeply-rooted rejectionism toward the Israeli side. 

Yossi’s vision of peace and coexistence can be implemented through a comprehensive intellectual revolution. This revolution should aim, first and foremost, to educate Arabs on the importance of human interaction between people of all backgrounds. Such intellectual revolution in the education system must receive support by the Arab regimes and international bodies such as the United Nations.

This revolution must address political, religious, cultural and economic issues. Such inclusive a revolution will ultimately deepen values of justice, peace, human cooperation and coexistence within the mentality of the Arab societies.

Furthermore, this revolution should turn Arab dictatorships into democratic regimes and create real transformation in Arab society.

Arab youth must be empowered and given the opportunity to lead their communities. The youth represent our hope of creating a better, flourishing future in this region.  

The youth have the potential to bring about positive change when they receive the required support to lead their communities. Consider, for example, the recent events in Saudi Arabia under the rule of Prince Mohammad Bin Salman which illustrate how young people can instigate dramatic positive change in their societies. This is why the intellectual revolution I am talking about must, first and foremost, target Arab youth. 

I believe that this revolution will eventually convince Arabs to build good relations with Israel. By channeling needed efforts in that direction, we will hopefully get to see our Arab and Jewish children playing together one day. Our youth will discuss issues and exchange ideas freely. I envision universities cooperating and opening their doors to students from both sides. There will be genuine human interaction between both sides.

Arabs from all over the Arab World will be visiting Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and in return, Jews will be able to visit Arab countries. Only then will we truly grasp the importance of sharing this land and living on it together.

If we want to see this vision come true, both sides need courageous leaders who can make courageous decisions and move forward, hand in hand, toward a flourishing future on this land. 



My response to the Sixth Letter The Partition of Justice



I would like to start my response by expressing my sincere appreciation to Yossi for the creativity with which he delivered his thoughts and feelings in such a simple, smooth manner.

In fact, this letter revealed to me a lot about Yossi’s mindset. He seeks to bring justice to both sides. He shared some quotes from the Torah about justice as a fundamental concept in governing people, any people. This reminded me how Islam also emphasizes justice as a fundamental basis of governance.

Yossi wonders in this letter about the possibility of providing justice for Palestinians when this very justice might pose a threat to Israeli security in this hostile region. I believe that normalizing relations between Arab countries and Israel can be the key to resolving the contradiction between bringing justice to the Palestinians and security to the Israelis. Based on my own experience in politics, I think that Arab leaders hold 70% of the responsibility for creating this contradiction, while the Israelis hold the remaining 30%.

However, I believe that responsibility for ending this conflict falls upon us all. This is why we have decided to take responsibility and do our share in paving the way toward ending this conflict and bringing peace to this region through, “The Future Generations Movement.”

This movement has a vision and mission to transform Arab society and create a fundamental change in the Arab mindset. In order to fulfill our vision, we hold intellectual, cultural, political, and social activities targeting young Arabs under the age of 40. 

Furthermore, we are advancing toward passing a law that criminalizes hate speech and incitement of all forms, as well as implementing a system that imposes fines for such actions. In this movement we believe that laws should be legislated in order to put an end to hate speech and incitement in the Arab world.

We are also working at a top-level, official level to enable this change to materialize. We are trying to promote connections between Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and Emirati, Qatari, and Iraqi senior officials. 

After reading your book and understanding your peaceful message, I am inviting you, Yossi, to join us so we can dedicate our collective efforts to bring peace and prosperity to this region. 

We believe, in this movement, that Jewish and Israeli fears must be alleviated in order to bring peace and justice to all sides. Israelis must be able to live securely in their own state. They should also be made to feel safe and secure when they visit any Arab and Muslim country. 

This is how I envision true peace.

Last, but not least, I believe that cooperation between Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor and “The Future Generations Movement” can be fruitful and pave the way toward changing the current reality. 

Together, we can end the age of ignorance, rejectionism and hostility and replace it with an era of acceptance, tolerance, justice and peace. 

Best regards,

Kadhim from Iraq


To read Yossi’s response check this link