A Letter from a Palestinian

I was both surprised and happy to receive a very nice e-mail message today from a Palestinian Arab in Jenin. I will not reveal his name for his security.

I know that he has written and submitted articles to The Times of Israel and he is proficient in the English language. I know nothing yet of his background or education but I was quite impressed with his message.

In it he thanked me for some of my recent articles, in particular those condemning the tragic murder by our police of an innocent, handsome, young autistic man, Iyad Halak.

In response to his e-mail I mentioned that I wanted to send a letter of condolence to his grieving family although I had no address and I cannot write in Arabic. It would be either Hebrew or English, and I’m guessing English would be most welcome.

M. is an interesting person although I await more details of his life, interests, hobbies, etc. in future e–mails to me and I look forward to his response to my reply.

I have never had contact with Arabs other than with my dear friend of long past years, Rafoul Ghawi, Superintendent of the famous Jerusalem YMCA and his dear wife Widad.

But in the years 1957-1960 we avoided conversations pertaining to the war of independence in 1948 and the situation of Palestinians who fled or were forced out of their homes in the new State of Israel.

Not only am I ignorant of all the facts I also find it distasteful to speak with an Arab on such sensitive matters.

I do not, however, accept the numbers in the akba in comparison to the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust from 1939-1945. The akba resulted in several thousands of newly displaced Arabs.

The greatest pity, as far as I am concerned, is the lack of communication between Jews and Arabs.

We have much to learn from one another as long as we divest ourselves from prejudice and racism.

The Iranian Muslims, on the other hand, do not hate Jews. There are still thousands of Jews living peacefully in Iran. Synagogues are open for worship and there is a Jewish member in the Iranian parliament.

Their problem is not with Jews per se but they are vehemently opposed to Zionism. I fail to understand how the two can be separate! When Teheran says it wants to demolish the Jewish State how can it not mean ridding Israel of all Jews, Zionists or non-Zionists, and turning our country into a Palestinian nation?

My new-found Palestinian e-mail friend, M. knows quite well from my previous articles that I am opposed to the Trump peace plan. The so-called Deal of the Century will have the letter l removed and replaced by the letters t and h. It will result in the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands, on both sides. May God protect us all.

It is clearly a violation of international law to annex territory belonging to an occupied people. To annex the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and parts of the large Jordan Valley could result in our being labeled as criminals by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Many thousands of Israelis and several millions of non-=Israelis denounce the Netanyahu annexation plan.

It is important that M. understands that to prevent bloodshed on both sides of the banks of the Jordan river, rational minds must overtake the greedy and lustful desire to replace Palestinians from their homes and property.

Palestinians must stop being stubborn and agree to a dialogue with Israeli leaders. With good will and compromise a real deal toward peace may eventually be successful. Hashem willing. Insh’Allah also.

And if Netanyahu proceeds in annexation, he too should be replaced.

We Jews cry “shalom” and the Palestinians cry “salaam”. Sadly no one is listening and our cries fall upon deaf ears.

My Palestinian e-mail mate greeted me with a “salaam” and I responded with a “shalom”.

At least both of us were listening to one another.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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