Dear Yossi,

I have just finished reading your book. I read it nearly in one sitting. I found it very moving–rawly honest, stirringly compassionate, never shrinking from the hard critique either of Palestinians or Israelis. I felt your passion and love for Israel and the Jewish people, and your love for your neighbors and their culture, religion and traditions. I hope you will find the conversation partners you long for. I hope they will be able to get beyond the honest critiques to hear your love and your pain. A couple of thoughts: I hope you are working with editors in the US and elsewhere to make sure that in the promotion of the book it is clear that this is also a book for Christians and secular/non-religious folk in the West. I know quite a few mainline Christians and social justice Evangelicals who need to read it. This Israeli story is even less well known that the Jewish story in general and I find that one woefully misunderstood. I have told students that however bad you think the Christian treatment of Jews has been multiply it by about 100! As you know, the current lenses among the more mainline Christians (if there is a story at all) is that of occupation, colonialism and murder. Of course, I suspect that a secondary market for this would be more liberal American Jews who view Israel through the same set of lenses. Secondly, I was glad you mentioned the Christian Palestinian at the end. Although they are a minority within a minority they are a not unimportant group within Israeli society. And, I am told, they are among the most successful. I don’t think even the Muslim world is fully aware of their existence and importance. I have wondered if they could play a role in mediating these two worlds–but perhaps I am naive about that. I have been reading Simon Schama’s second volume of his history of the Jews. Schama is a great story teller and I love the ways he brings the lives of both ordinary and well-known Jew to life. I was moved with his description of the last days of the life of Moses Mendelssohn. He tells of how the Mendelssohn family was out for a stroll and were set upon by a group of youths throwing stones and abuse. The children asked Mendelssohn what they had done to deserve such treatment. He was, unusual for him, at a loss for words. He could only mutter, “People, people when will you stop doing this.” Schama comments, “unhappily we know the answer.” I suppose that answer is , “Not yet.” He would write to a friend, “We dreamt of nothing but Enlightenment and believed that the light of reason would illuminate the world so brightly that delusion and fanaticism could not longer be seen. But as we now see from the other side of the horizon, the night with all its ghosts and demons is already falling. More frightening than anything is that evil is so alive and potent. Delusion and fanaticism act while all reason does is talk. ” I think you are trying to do more than talk! Certainly the liberalism of the Enlightenment has not produced a solution. But as you suggest, a shared love of God and of a particular place could begin to make a difference. I think you have made a wonderful start. It was an honor to read it. I am sorry this has grown so long and I am not sure how helpful it will be. But rest assured that I will do what I can to promote the book. Many blessings dear friend. I am sorry we won’t see each other in Israel in May. But, as you say, next year, perhaps, in Jerusalem.

-Jay Phelan, Chicago