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Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor
Cover of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor
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New York Times bestseller

Now with a new Epilogue, containing letters of response from Palestinian readers.

"A profound and original book, the work of a gifted thinker."—Daphne Merkin, The Wall Street Journal

Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli commentator and award-winning author of Like Dreamers directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.

I call you "neighbor" because I don't know your name, or anything personal about you. Given our circumstances, "neighbor" might be too casual a word to describe our relationship. We are intruders into each other's dream, violators of each other's sense of home. We are incarnations of each other's worst historical nightmares. Neighbors?

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is one Israeli's powerful attempt to reach beyond the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians and into the hearts of "the enemy." In a series of letters, Yossi Klein Halevi explains what motivated him to leave his native New York in his twenties and move to Israel to participate in the drama of the renewal of a Jewish homeland, which he is committed to see succeed as a morally responsible, democratic state in the Middle East.

This is the first attempt by an Israeli author to directly address his Palestinian neighbors and describe how the conflict appears through Israeli eyes. Halevi untangles the ideological and emotional knot that has defined the conflict for nearly a century. In lyrical, evocative language, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel, using history and personal experience as his guide.

Halevi's letters speak not only to his Palestinian neighbor, but to all concerned global citizens, helping us understand the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians that will ultimately help determine the fate of the region.

New York Times bestseller

Now with a new Epilogue, containing letters of response from Palestinian readers.

"A profound and original book, the work of a gifted thinker."—Daphne Merkin, The Wall Street Journal

Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli commentator and award-winning author of Like Dreamers directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.

I call you "neighbor" because I don't know your name, or anything personal about you. Given our circumstances, "neighbor" might be too casual a word to describe our relationship. We are intruders into each other's dream, violators of each other's sense of home. We are incarnations of each other's worst historical nightmares. Neighbors?

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is one Israeli's powerful attempt to reach beyond the wall that separates Israelis and Palestinians and into the hearts of "the enemy." In a series of letters, Yossi Klein Halevi explains what motivated him to leave his native New York in his twenties and move to Israel to participate in the drama of the renewal of a Jewish homeland, which he is committed to see succeed as a morally responsible, democratic state in the Middle East.

This is the first attempt by an Israeli author to directly address his Palestinian neighbors and describe how the conflict appears through Israeli eyes. Halevi untangles the ideological and emotional knot that has defined the conflict for nearly a century. In lyrical, evocative language, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel, using history and personal experience as his guide.

Halevi's letters speak not only to his Palestinian neighbor, but to all concerned global citizens, helping us understand the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians that will ultimately help determine the fate of the region.

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About the Author-
  • Yossi Klein Halevi is an American-born writer who has lived in Jerusalem since 1982. He is a senior fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and the author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land and Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, which won the Jewish Book Council's Everett Family Book of the Year Award for Best Jewish Book in 2013. Together with Imam Abdullah Antelpi of Duke University, he co-directs the Hartman Institute's Muslim Leadership Initiative. He and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 26, 2018
    Halevi, codirector of the Muslim Leadership Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute, which teaches Muslim American leaders about Judaism and Israel, offers a poetic and moving account of “my experience as occupier” that asserts Israel’s legitimacy and evokes its emotional importance for Jews, but refuses to gloss over its flaws. Halevi’s goal is to open a dialogue with an imagined Palestinian neighbor living on the other side of a protective wall constructed in Jerusalem to deter terrorists. He frames his chapters as a series of letters to that neighbor that include both concise, balanced histories—of such topics as the history of modern Zionism and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and his own memories of growing up an American Jew afraid that Israel would be destroyed in 1967, moving to Israel, and how his “romance with the settlement movement ended.” Halevi, who considers both Israel and Palestine to be “rightful claimants” to the territory for historical and emotional reasons, makes clear that he understands Palestinians’ perspectives. In that spirit, he asks his imagined correspondent for “respect for my people’s story” rather than to buy into positions advocated by the Palestinian government and media that deny the legitimacy of Jewish claims to the land and seek “to be free of Israel’s existence entirely.” In keeping with Halevi’s approach, this heartfelt, empathetic plea for connection and mutual acknowledgement is available as a free download in Arabic.

  • Tablet Magazine "The tantalizing proposition of Halevi's book, never belabored but always peeking from between the lines, is that faith might unite these two warring tribes whereas reason only fanned the flames of discord."
  • Jewish Journal "By providing an honest, soulful and balanced recap of two emotional narratives, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor has given us a spiritual roadmap, if not to peace, then at least to hope."
  • Daphne Merkin, Wall Street Journal "A clarion call, not to arms but to empathy...a profound and original book, the work of a gifted thinker...[an] urgent and heartfelt message."
  • Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic "One of the best one-volume introductions to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians."
  • The Forward "Refreshingly honest...In explaining Israel to the Palestinians, [Halevi] appeals to a certain ideal, a higher ambition, a sense of wonder and beauty."
  • Mosaic "I was enlightened by the extraordinary insights that filled page after page, often on topics I thought I knew quite well. I was also moved by the haunting beauty of the superbly crafted language, by the many passages that speak to my deepest yearnings, and especially by coming to know better the extraordinary soul of the author."
  • Jewish Boston "Eloquent and important."
  • Jerusalem Post "Yossi Klein Halevi wants to extend an olive branch to his Palestinian neighbors, and does so, in his incredibly compelling and heartfelt book Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor."
  • Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks  "A powerful, challenging, and deeply moving plea for human understanding across one of the most tragic divides in modern politics."
  • Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive, Jewish Agency for Israel "Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor conveys the urgency and poetry of the Israeli story in a way that is accessible to any reader. I hope everyone will read these beautiful letters—Palestinians and Jews and anyone else interested in understanding who the Jews are and why we returned home."
  • Publishers Weekly "A poetic and moving account...heartfelt, empathetic."
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Yossi Klein Halevi
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