Dear Yossi,

I read and truly immersed myself in this book. There are things I want to express which might betray my ignorance, but I shall force myself to be uncensored, in keeping with the spirit of the book, which I also deemed uncensored and heartfelt.

This book – this emotional appeal – is long overdue. It presents the moral dilemmas in a way that invokes genuine understanding.

I always believed that Israel was about saving Judaism more than it was about saving the Jewish people. Your faith, like mine, is communal and concrete and would neither survive nor evolve without at least a critical mass of its adherents being committed to observing it in its totality. That totality is both legal and cultural. The preservation of its various exponents requires an ambiance and a set of conditions that are supported by a state apparatus. Not just for protection, but for preservation.

I understand this because it corresponds to my own interpretation of Islamic theology. In order for religion not to become codified into harsh dogma, it must evolve within the context of a community, a nation state, or Ummah. It is part of my “catechism” as a Muslim to acknowledge that the existence of such a community is a prerequisite to fulfilling one’s spiritual mission and religious duties on this earth.

Religion is a way of life that must be sustained by cultivating a political and social environment that reinforces its principles and accommodates its language, its rituals, and its social norms. I believe this as a Muslim, but I also believe that Muslims do not have a monopoly on that divine recommendation.

The idea of a state that is simultaneously religious and secular – Jewish yet democratic – a twin eruption of opposites or a paradox, as you put it, is remarkable in today’s world. For although we have Muslim majority nations, we do not have Islamic ones.

What prevents the Arab world from accepting a liveable compromise is ironically our own interpretation of the “divine covenant”. The Arab Muslim narrative is one in which we alone are the ones tasked with building a model community, and where Jews and Christians must seek to live under our jurisdiction as the benevolent jurors of their communal fate.

No practical considerations will allow the Arab world to relinquish the “Palestinian conflict” for a Palestinian solution because this is not about Palestinians, but rather about reinforcing ancient narratives. I do not believe the Arab world is concerned with the plight of Palestinians; the fact that different state actors are co-opting their predicament to pursue their own agendas is well known.

Therefore, I think your appeal directly to the Palestinians is well placed. This book (Letter) is a meaningful petition. Ultimately, Palestinians will have to disentangle themselves from the global narrative that seeks to enshrine their status as homeless refugees and strive for their immediate rights as opposed to attaining our universal glory.

I think it’s important to honor Palestinian identity and help expand its definition in a way that de-romanticizes its victim status. Identity is an emotional thing. It is more of a feeling than a fact. If survival is a fundamental human motivation, then it is survival of our identity as much as it is survival for its own sake which determines the course of human history.

Having said that, it is problematic when an identity evolves through conflict, struggle or trauma because it fosters a subconscious need to perpetuate that conflict as a way of perpetuating one’s existence. Yet this is a psychological phenomenon, not a political one.

History is the art of selective perception. No one can absorb every aspect of the past. But those aspects we choose to accentuate and those we choose to ignore can mean the difference between war and peace. Your call for us to “recognize not only each other’s right to self-determination but also each side’s right to self-definition” is an important foundational principle that will hopefully become the impetus to moving forward.

Your desire to end the occupation without committing suicide is at the heart of your message. It’s a near-impossible quandary, and it’s going to require a leap of faith to answer it.

I congratulate you on this work and I apologize in advance for any ignorant thing I might have said. I am still a student on these matters, and I look forward to future discussions.

I remain optimistic about the future. I think the Universal GPS is set towards justice and peace. Where we find ourselves on this route is really about our spiritual growth as individuals. Our communal survival is God’s project.