This is Yossi’s Response to Ayad Hwady from Iraq. You can find Ayad’s response here


My Dear Friend Ayad,

It is a wonderful experience to be able to address you – someone I haven’t yet met – as “my dear friend.” Your letter touched me deeply. I couldn’t have hoped for a better reader than you, dear Ayad.

I was especially touched by your willingness to expose yourself to the emotional intensity of the Jewish experience. I’ve received many responses to the book, including moving responses from Palestinian and Arab readers. But your courage in entering “alien” emotional territory and immersing in a deeper level of empathy with the Jewish experience is almost unique among the responses.

My book will be coming out in Hebrew soon, and I’m hoping that it will open a conversation among Israelis about our Palestinian neighbors and the need to listen to their stories. Once, in the 1990s, there was a real willingness among many Israelis to try to see this conflict through Palestinian eyes. But these terrible years in the Middle East have mostly shut down our capacity for empathy. To live without empathy for your neighbor is to impair oneself. I don’t have to agree with my neighbor’s opinions to try to understand him. That is the simple – and very complicated – message of my book.

Thank you for the suggestion about a film. A short film was made last year, based on my relationship with one of the book’s Palestinian respondents, Professor Mohammed Dajani-Daoudi. You can find the film (in three five-minute segments) on the book’s website ( Also, I am planning to release a short video about the book soon, with Arabic subtitles. As for a longer film project, I’m open to suggestions.

Please tell me something about yourself – your life, your family, your experiences in Iraq and your emigration to Sweden.

I haven’t been to Sweden, but now I feel I have a reason to go there. And if it is at all possible for you to come to Jerusalem, it would be wonderful to greet you here and show you around the city. I know it’s not easy – the Israeli border checks can be very unpleasant for people coming from the Arab world. But I hope you will at least consider the possibility of coming.

By opening yourself to my story, you have strengthened my (sometimes faltering) commitment to continuing this process of outreach. You have encouraged me to keep going, to seek out more connections within Palestinian society and the Arab world, not to allow the despair that surrounds all of us here to undermine one’s faith in the power of the small act of goodwill. Thank you for that gift.

With blessings and friendship,