This is Yossi’s reply to M.G from Bethlehem. To read M’s full response check this link 

Dear Mahmoud,

First, please forgive my long delay in responding to your beautiful, painful letter.

Yes, we are of course cousins – though as we know from family dynamics, sometimes the most bitter rivalries can come between cousins and even brothers. I continue to search for a language that can bring us together. Children of Abraham? Children of the Holy Land? Children of the One God? I fear that those concepts are too abstract, with little power to counter-act the dynamics of our terrible conflict.

I so much appreciate the quality of your observations of our daily reality here, and your descriptions of what it takes for a young Palestinian from the West Bank to try to visit Jerusalem. Israelis need to be reminded of this reality; it’s too easy to turn away and become absorbed in our daily lives and simply cite security matters as the justification for every policy. I don’t minimize Israel’s security needs; I well remember the four years of suicide bombings, and know that we must be vigilant. But we need to do everything possible on our side to make this situation more bearable.

You are right: The situation in the Shuafat refugee camp, just outside my window, and the other neighborhoods that have fallen between the cracks is an ongoing wound. As for the white smoke: I know that, these days, that usually means burning garbage. During the two intifadas it tended to be from burning tires – and when there are clashes with Israeli soldiers, that still happens. But you are right, and I should have made that clearer in the book.

Sometimes I feel that the first step we need to take is simply to weep together.

Thank you for allowing me to do that with you.

With blessings,