Dear Yossi,

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to read your inspiring book, where I found genuine and honest intentions to spread peace among all human beings, not only Arabs and Israelis.

After having read the book – I agree with you in so many issues you raised. I also want you to know that I am trying to raise awareness to the importance of exchanging visits between the Arabs and Israels. I believe that this could be an crucial step in breaking the circles of mistrust and fear between us. I also believe that this distance between us creates a gap of unrealistic fear on both sides.

I also believe that coexistence between people from various religious backgrounds will ease the mission of our politicians in reaching agreements that will maintain this peaceful coexistence.

I wholeheartedly hope to visit Israel one day, meet you in person and experience life among your people as a guest and a Neighbor. I also hope that your people can visit me in my home and get to experience a loving and welcoming atmosphere among my people.

There is another important thing that I want you to know about us in the Gulf region: Our feelings towards Israel are a bit different than the rest of the Arab World since we were not directly fighting each other in any war and this is what probably makes us less hostile towards Israel.

There are about 8 Million non Arabs from different religious and ethnic backgrounds who live in the Gulf now. We live peacefully there since we respect variety among human beings.

Finally, I think that conducting peace with Israel will be a win-win situation for all. It will benefit all of us in all aspects of life, particularly in Economy and Technology.

I would like to thank you again and express my genuine appreciation for the efforts you put in writing this book.

With my best regards and honest wishes that a lasting peace will finally prevail between Palestinians and Israelis.

Sultan from Saudi Arabia

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Yossi Klein Halevi’s response to Sultan’s letter:

Dear Sultan,

Your wonderful letter touched me deeply. Thank you, my friend – and I feel that, though I know almost nothing about you, we have already become friends.

I wholeheartedly endorse your idea that personal connections between Arabs and Israelis can help ease the task of the politicians to make peace, as you put it. Unfortunately, those who call for a boycott of Israelis fail to understand the Israeli mentality, which is to push back when feeling under siege. The movement to boycott Israel has the opposite effect of forcing us into concessions. I wish people in the Arab world understood that the only way to convince Israelis to be generous in territorial withdrawal is by persuading them that it would be safe to do so, that their security wouldn’t be compromised. And the only way to get that message across, I believe, is through messages such as yours.

That is partly what motivated me to write my book. The more voices for peace and reconciliation that we hear from the Arab world, the more Israelis will lower their guard and begin to trust that they really can find their place in the region.

I would be honored to welcome you to Jerusalem. I would be delighted to welcome you for dinner in our home, to share with you the Jewish celebration of the Sabbath. And yes, my dream is to visit Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, as a neighbor, a friend, a brother.

Please tell me something about yourself.

With blessings and warm regards –

Yossi

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Sultan’s second response to Yossi:

Dear Yossi,

I would like to thank you for your kind invitation. Only God knows how excited I am to visit your state, the state of Israel. I would be the first visitor if the situation around us allowed this to happen. But I would be even happier if you paid me a visit in Saudi Arabia. This would be a great honor for me.

I believe that the mutual interests and the recognition of others’ rights to exist are the very basic requirements in building a strong relationship between us. The thing that may surprise you is the dramatic increase in the percentage of Saudis who accept Israel’s right to exist and recognize Israel as a State. Many Saudis these days are wholeheartedly convinced and believe in this. These issues became very common in the Saudi public, not to mention that people here are not hiding their openness towards Israel anymore and are talking about this in public.

There is another point that I would like to clarify as well, which is the way many perceive Israel in the Gulf. In fact, we distanced ourselves from the mainstream Arab’s rejection of Israel.

We perceive Israel as a democratic state that treats its Arab citizens better than Arabs are being treated in the Arab countries. We also perceive you, Jews, as cousins, and we will never hate you because of your religion.

I will be honored to react to your posts on the FB page. I also don’t mind writing down my first name, Sultan, under the notes that I am sending you if you’re going to publish them. We are a people who promote peace and are willing to pursue it.

Many thanks and appreciation to your work, dear Yossi.

Sultan

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Yossi’s response to Sultan:

My Dear Sultan, 

Thank you for your warm words of friendship. Israelis desperately need to hear these affirmations of friendship from the Arab world. That, I believe, will help greatly in allowing Israelis to take risks for peace and move toward a two-state solution.

I would be honored to visit Saudi Arabia and to meet you there. My hope is that the right circumstances will make that possible. I am ready any time to come. Inshallah.

Thank you for your willingness to respond to my book. I will of course protect your identity in any way you request.

Blessings and warm regards,

Yossi

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