My dear Israeli neighbor,

I would like to thank you for all your efforts and for all the information that you have provided in your book. At times, I felt that your words were too harsh. On other occasions, I encountered information that was completely new to me.

I see that you love Palestinians and care about them, and that you support the establishment of a Palestinian state in accordance with UN resolutions. As a Palestinian, I believe that the Jewish people belong to this land no less than the Arabs who, in fact, created their own history on this land and founded states by force, oppressing the locals and legitimizing their presence here through religion.

I prefer not to talk about religion since I have abandoned it. Religion will change nothing. At the end of the day, I feel that both Israelis and Palestinians just want to live in peace, leave the past behind and flourish.

I was told by some Palestinians that the Israeli people are of high morals and values.

I’m not against the State of Israel and its internal politics, but I must admit that I dislike the West Bank’s military policies currently applied against innocent people who simply want to make peace with Israel. This is a viewpoint shared by my intellectual friends, both in the West Bank and beyond.

The one request I have for the Israeli people is that they put pressure on both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority whilst pushing against American interventionism. Such interventionism only hinders progress towards a historical peace agreement which could put an end to this conflict.

I would like to thank the author, Yossi, for his high morals and ethics which are clearly expressed in his discussion about his military service and his advice for his son to not humiliate any human being irrespective of the circumstances.

I believe that the only solution for our conflict is a one-state solution; whether it is called Israel and remains a Jewish state or whether it is completely secular. The important thing is to preserve peace, equality and social justice. No one would claim that such a state lacks legitimacy if Palestinians themselves were to vote for its creation and I myself know many who support this idea.

If this doesn’t work, I suggest a two-state solution in which we consider the possibility of keeping the settlements in the West Bank whilst providing the Jewish inhabitants Palestinian citizenship and at the same time permitting Palestinians to obtain citizenship in Israel.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, refused Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008 even though Olmert was a noble man who, like Yitzhak Rabin who was murdered by a Jewish extremist for his attempts to create peace, had a sincere desire to bring an end to the conflict.

What I’m saying is not merely guesswork. I live in Gaza and I can tell you that people here have very contradictory personalities; they want peace with Israel but are unable to express this publicly so they live a lie. I once asked a man, “what if Hamas recognizes Israel, would you accept that?”, to which he replied, “this is not important to me; all I care about is my life and I wish to live a good one.”

I myself live among these people. I understand them very well. The economy is in ruins. We desire peace so that we can lead a better, more dignified life. My friends in the Emirates wish a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis. The only thing that causes a Palestinian to refuse to accept the existence of an Israeli state is the fact that it is Jewish in character, the fact that it’s based on religion. I, however, have learned to accept the right of every human being to exist and live on this earth, whether he’s Jewish, Muslim, Christian or belongs to any other religion. As I have already mentioned, I abandoned religion and now accept everybody.

But Palestinians contradict themselves and their political leadership knows this very well. We all wish the Israelis would take control of Gaza again, because at least it would provide us with better education, healthcare, jobs, and electricity. Our current government gambles with our lives and incites us to go and die on our borders.

Speaking of Zionism, is it true that there is a mountain called Zion near Jerusalem, that ‘Zion’ is a Canaanite word for a fortress, and that the Zionist movement adopted this name for this reason? I know that the Zionist movement was founded by Theodor Herzl, who was neither a religious man nor the one who came up with the idea of founding the State of Israel. Rather, it was European nationalistic movements that inspired him to pursue such a nationalistic idea and then supported him in doing so.

I have already touched upon the contradictions within my own society, yet there are more contradictions that are worthy of elaboration, not least on the matter of religion and state. You see, my Palestinian people don’t accept any religion other than Islam on the land they consider their own, and seek to establish an Islamic state in which other religious groups would be deemed inferior or forbidden altogether. They consider Palestine to be of Islamic heritage, although neither Palestine nor Jerusalem were ever mentioned in the Quran. Yet, absurdly, while many escape Islamist countries and emigrate to secular ones, they simultaneously demand to implement Islam in these countries too! Isn’t this a contradiction, Mr. Yossi? Have you also noticed this hypocrisy?

I consider the Israeli people to be a part of this region and I recognize their right to exist on this land too because the Jewish nation belongs here. Their right is attested to both in the Bible and the Quran, the latter of which also mentions the kingdoms of David and Solomon and the promises made to the Jews regarding the Holy Land.

However, there is one thing about which I am unsure, dear Yossi, and this is the exact location of those kingdoms: were they located in Aaseer (Saudi Arabia), the Mediterranean area or in Yemen? Is the Promised Land located here or in Yemen? There are some theories circulating on the net about a Jewish Yemenite kingdom and their holy temple having been established there, rather than in Jerusalem. Can you, please, explain where this theory comes from and what your views are regarding this matter?  We need reliable research and more detailed answers concerning those claims, since, apart from a few hints, the Abrahamic religions did not mention any specific location.

I honestly don’t care who rules Jerusalem or AlQuds. I simply want it to be a peaceful place that is accessible to anyone to whom it possesses importance.
I also refuse to identify the land with religion; should non-religious people be kicked out just because they don’t believe? I maintain that secular people have as much of a right to live on this land as the religious do.

Finally, in the sixth letter, I see that the only solution to this conflict is the founding of a single secular state – irrespective of its name – which unifies both our peoples and provides us with a safer and a better future in which the economy flourishes and everybody lives in prosperity.

I would like to point out that I support the Israeli left rather than the right, and I consider only the left to be capable of bringing an end to this conflict by creating the solution I prefer: a federal secular republic.

UNRWA does its best to assist and provide whatever it can to support the Palestinian people, but there is still much neglect in the camps of Gaza from both the PA and Hamas. Since we moved here, the situation has become unbearable. We can’t even leave the strip or travel like people can and do in any other normal country. We lack the privilege to treat ourselves to a break, take some time off and escape from all this pressure.


Shaadi from Palestine