This is Yossi’s response to Kadhem from Iraq. To read Kadhem’s full response check this link


Dear Kadhim,

First, please accept my apologies for the long delay in responding to your wonderful letters. I am deeply touched by your warm response to my book and, no less, by your careful and thoughtful reading. I couldn’t have hoped for a better reader than you when I sent this book out into the world. Thank you for validating my work as a writer, for making the effort worthwhile.

Your response to the first letter offers some powerful insights and fascinating ideas for a different future. I love your idea of a joint Arab-Jewish peace movement that could encompass the whole region. It is time for us, on the grass roots, to begin the process of ending this insane hundred-year war. There must be justice for Palestinians and legitimacy for Israelis. The Arab world can help by creating that framework for solving the problem.

The crucial point for me is summed up in your words: “We have to work together on mutual understanding, recognition and cooperation so that both narratives will be able to coexist, not replace each other.” As painful as it is, we need to listen to each other’s narratives, and learn to live with mutually irreconcilable historical stories. Just as neither people is going away, so the two narratives are fated to remain. Neither narrative will destroy the other; each is too powerful. And so, as you write, we have no choice but to accommodate them both.

I deeply appreciate your affirmation, on religious grounds, of the Jewish people’s connection with this land. I would only caution against invoking the slogan “from the Nile to the Euphrates.” I know of no sane Israeli, including on the right, who dream of such borders. That slogan has been used by some in the Arab world who seek to present Israel as a threat to the region. I know of course that that wasn’t your intent, but I think we need to be mindful of how these ideas can be used by enemies of peace.

I agree with you about the Arab Spring: For all its failures, we will eventually see it as a breakthrough moment that began to change the consciousness of so many people in our region. Your letter is proof of that.

Now I will address your comments on my second letter:

You touched on precisely the reason why I wrote this book. It amazed me that, in all these years of conflict, no one on the Israeli side had ever written directly to Palestinians, and to others in the Arab world, to explain who the Jews are and why we see ourselves as an inseparable part of this land and this region.

Your vision of a future federation in the Middle East that would still preserve Israel as a Jewish state is tantalizing. I deeply appreciate your ability to dream despite the depressing state of affairs all around us. And yes, there is more than enough room for all of us.

Still, I am extremely hesitant about bringing up Solomon’s Temple. There are extremist Jews who want to destroy the Muslim presence on the Mount to make way for the Temple. Fortunately, most Israelis oppose them. But they are dangerous and capable of violence, and I don’t want to encourage them in any way. I leave the Temple to God; I believe that if He wants there to be a Temple, He will let us know.

Your idea for a joint Iraqi-Israeli team sounds wonderful. Please keep me posted about developments in that direction.

Please tell me something about yourself and your life.

I am delighted to be in touch with you. It is people like yourself who are instruments for God in helping humanity evolve.


With blessings and warm regards,