Joel Smith
A Jew who thinks for himself

An Open Letter to the Palestinian People

First of all, know that I am an old American and have no ties to the governments of either the  U.S.A. or Israel (and I definately am not C.I.A.). I have been watching (from a distance) the struggle between you and Israel for sixty years – it’s a tragedy. I think I understand what you think, and what the Israelis think…. If I were an Israeli, this is what I would tell you….

Peace be with you – sallam alechem . Understand this: There is nothing to be gained by talking about the past. It’s over, and even if you are right – and Israelis are “wrong” – that makes no difference in your lives – not today,  not tomorrow. You are not going to “recover what you think is your land”, ever. The Israelis want it as much as you do, they believe Gd gave it to them…and they have the determination, the technology and weapons to keep it. Never mind who is right, and whose land it is. Arguing about it has yielded nothing. Never mind what is “legal”, or what you have been told. Forget about it. Never mind your grievances, never mind your pride. This is about changing your life for the better, and the lives of people you know, and your children, and their lives. This is about being realistic – that is what I am writing about. You will not get what you want by throwing stones, burning tires, launching explosives laden balloons, or having martyrs disappear forever. Such foolishness.You will not get what you have been promised by following the angry rhetoric of your current leaders. Think! For more than seventy years you have followed them, they have led you, and what do you have to show for it? Frustration, resentment, anger, unemployment. And when brothers or friends, your sons and fathers, were injured or killed, and your houses destroyed by Israelis jets…really, if you are fair-minded you know that this happened in response to something you people did. If you strike out at Israel, they will respond – that’s the way life is. In other words, while you may not like to hear it, those Palestinian mothers weeping are weeping because a few of you people “hit” the Israelis first. Was it worth it? Having buildings destroyed, young men killed, and other punishments..? Because the Israelis do not strike first. If you are fair (or have not been misinformed) you know that this is true.

You Palestinians do not lack courage – what you lack, it seems to me…is wisdom – wisdom and good leadership. Good leaders care more about the people they represent than their egos and the wealth they can obtain by being leaders. Do you know that two or three times you people were offered more than 90% of the West Bank by Israel, just to make peace? – and  your leaders refused. It is a fact. You might have your own country now if your leaders cared more about you, and less about how they would be perceived, and who they didn’t like, and…so on.. I sometimes wonder what you people are told. I have heard that your “education” includes the “information” that Jews are dogs, pigs or Nazis. Is that true..? You know that that is ridiculous – but you allow that to be taught to your children. I can assure you that Israeli children are not taught anything like that about you people. While some Israelis do not like the Palestinians because they feel you won’t let them “live” in their towns and cities, you continually pressure them, knowing that will not help you achieve your goals. I have talked with some Israelis. They see you as humans, and humans with a problem. And they recognize you think that they are the problem. But they also think – and I agree with them – that if you would make peace with them, sign a treaty, and make your own little country, they would not be a problem for you, they would leave you alone (but you would still have problems – you know it, and I know it). Actually, many of them would like to help you, but of course, cannot as long as you consider them the enemy.

I see that I am calling Israelis them, instead of using the word us. I forgot for a moment that earlier I wrote that if I were an Israeli.. this is the letter I would like you to read. But I am an American. I am well educated, and I think for myself.  I think it’s a tragedy that you people continue to do nothing to help yourselves. Say yes, and step into your future…. Sit down with the Israelis and make a deal

Let me repeat this…arguing about who is “right”, who should do this, or should not do that is a waste of time. Haven’t you argued long enough?. If you are sincere about wanting a better life – not only for you and the others, but for your children… do what you can to have people really representing you willing to sit down with the Israelis and negotiate your future (because neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority will – they are useless). I don’t know how you get these people to step forward…but unless you do, you will continue living like you have all your life – and I tell you that it could be a lot better. Your brother Arabs grow tired of you. It may get worse – unless you change it! I don’t know how you get intelligent, brave people to volunteer to lead you, but that’s what you need. I think of Indians in the American West during the 19th century. They fought against the white people coming from the East because they felt that the land was theirs. They could not stop the white man because he had the superior weapons. Sound familiar? Today the native American Indians still exist, but they are not doing very well. I don’t want to see the Palestinian Arabs disappear from history. Accommodate the Israelis. In other words…after some bargaining…accept the deal. The world will be watching. Israel wants to end all this, but they are as good at bargaining as you are….  CHANGE THINGS




About the Author
Born and raised in Chicago, 1938. Both my parents Jewish. Bar mitzvahed, and supposedly Conservative. U. of Ill. B.A. then 2 years in the army, then to the U of Montana, M.A., M.F.A. Taught, drove a cab in Chicago, spent some years in CA. Was mentored by Noah ben Shea in a Religious Studies program at International College. Traveled internationally. Spent 1975 and 6 in Israel. Painted (I'm an artist). Held 15 jobs (including teaching English in several countries). Managed to buy 3 acres of country in north Florida where I live today doing things that please me.
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