Dear Yossi,

I started reading your book. It is rather passionate and deploys interesting logic and rationales. However, to judge its value, one has to understand the strategic purpose of its writing and targeted audience. It is presumably not aimed at people such as myself who are already relatively sympathetic to the plight of the Jewish people throughout history and across the world and are thus supportive of their need for a country that brings the Jews together in safety and unity.

I am not religious, so I do not deem relevant the Biblical evidence used to support claims to the land. The mere fact that the Jewish people have been persecuted over the centuries and throughout the world, compels me to support their need for a national home that can protect them. At the same time, one must look at the other side of the coin; the Palestinians. Of course, the plight of the Palestinians has been, at least in part, caused by their Arab political leadership and, more recently, societal religious fervour. However, one cannot ignore the fact that they are suffering. It does not help alleviate – in fact, it inflames – their sense of grievance in reminding them of their leadership’s failure and insisting that Israelis mean them no harm when in fact they suffer greatly from blockades and other security measures.

However, I come from Iraq, a country where people still appreciate the pivotal role played by its Jewish people since 586 BC. Many are sad and ashamed that these Jewish people left Iraq and, in fact, long for their return. Furthermore, the country has not been as affected by the Arab-Israeli conflict as other countries. So, Iraqis are, in general, more sympathetic to the Jewish cause.

Also, the fact that many Palestinians supported ISIS, constituting the largest group of suicide bombers in Iraq, has increased support for Israel amongst Iraqis, especially younger Iraqis.

Even in the ongoing protests, Iraqis are holding banners welcoming Iraqi Jews back to Iraq if they were to choose to do so.

I have lived in the West most of my life. Hence, the book and its message find sympathetic ears with me and probably many Iraqis. However, it is aimed at “my neighbors”. Whether its message will hold much sway with those neighbors, I assume, is the real question the writer has on his mind. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the answer to this question will be the one Yossi may hope for, however logical his arguments may be. If people face daily suffering behind a wall equipped with barbed wire and are simultaneously exposed to potent religious and political messaging – brainwashing, even – friendly outreach and logical dialogue may not, sadly, have much hold. What is the answer? If anyone knows, the Nobel Prize for Peace and a prominent place in history awaits them!

Again, I wish to clarify that, in my opinion, the book is not aimed at someone of my political persuasion vis-à-vis the Jews and Israel, who admires the small country’s impressive global contribution to science and medicine. I am nonetheless greatly appreciative of the author’s efforts to write the book and of his admirable work of bringing Arabs and Israelis together. I just fear that the road is long and bumpy. However, wonderful people like Yossi and his staff give hope that the road could one day be smoothed through negotiation.

Wishing you all the best of luck,

Ibn Dijlah from Iraq