Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor
Yossi Klein Halevi's slim but powerful book has a simple premise: a series of letters to the Palestinians next door (in Arabic, the book is free online). I am not the audience, yet I still found the book incredibly moving. Halevi is a fantastic writer (See: Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, the fantastic book that looks at the Reserve Brigade 55 in the IDF.) He tells his Palestinian neighbor the story of the Jewish people.
What I loved about Halevi's Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor is that it did not try and erase Palestinian history; rather, it acknowledged the Palestinian claim and asked for the Palestinians to also acknowledge Jewish history and the Jewish claim to the land. As Halevi writes in the introduction, "This book is an attempt to explain the Jewish story and the significance of Israel in Jewish identity to Palestinians who are my next-door neighbors." It's beautifully written; the epistolary form works well for the subject matter.
He finds common ground as "one person of faith to another" because "for peace to succeed in the Middle East, it must speak in some way to our hearts." He talks about the shared values of Judaism and Islam, and draws upon his history traveling in Palestine. In his clear and direct writing, he outlines the problems, misconceptions, and his view of Jewish history. He is very optimistic — and hopeful — in a way that doesn't feel realistic. But perhaps that's the point of books like this: to read, and think, what if? What if we were rational? What if, as Halevi writes, "“I forfeit Greater Israel and you forfeit Greater Palestine."
It ends with a simple plea: “And so, dear neighbor, I end these letters as I began: with the prayer that we will meet. Now we have spent some time together in spirit, but I hope to host you one day in my home—in my sukkah. B’ezrat Hashem. With God’s help. Inshallah.”
Short, worthwhile read. Rating: ★★★★★
Get it here: https://amzn.to/2MhLIYh