This is Yossi’s reply to Aziz Alqenaei. To read lAziz Alqenaei’s full response check this link


Dear AbdulAziz Alqenaei,

First, thank you for your thoughtful critique of my book. You were fair and balanced, and I am grateful to you, both for the praise and for the respectful way you offered your criticism.

You raise several points of disagreement which I would like to address.

First, that religion only divides us and cannot bring us closer to peace. That is certainly the case today. Mostly religion is used and abused to continue the conflict, justify violence and maximalist claims and deny the legitimate claims of the other side.

But we also have examples of rabbis and imams meeting quietly in recent years and developing a religious language of mutual respect. Both religions, as I wrote in my book, have deep traditions of humanity, and those need to be updated and amplified.

The alternative is to continue to give veto power to religious extremism. I don’t believe that in the Middle East it is possible to ignore religion. That may work in the West, but not here.

You also raise the question of one state versus two states. I am convinced that a one-state “solution” would end in even worse violence and hatred than we’ve seen so far. Yugoslavia, Iraq, Syria – these the models that await us if we try to artificially create one society out of two nations that have fought a hundred-year war. Each side deserves its own national life and independence; forcing us together into the same state will have consequences that we can’t begin to imagine.

I deeply believe that, in the modern era, the best way for small nations to preserve their culture is through national sovereignty. Otherwise, those cultures get swallowed up in the globalizing mass culture. There are dozens of Muslim majority states, but only one Jewish majority state. I need to preserve a Jewish majority state for the sake of Jewish civilization, as well as to provide a safe haven for Jews anywhere in the world who may need it. And as we see in our time, anti-Semitism is alive and well, and the notion of a safe haven for Jews is as relevant as it always was.

With appreciation and respect,