Book Review Number 23

Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor – Yossi Klein Halevi

As the title suggests the author has structured his book as a set of letters he would write to his Palestinian neighbor. The neighbor is not a specific person but an anonymous Palestinian individual with whom he would like to have a dialog.

The book has two primary themes: the first is a brief history of the trials and tribulation of the Jewish people over the past hundred years culminating in the creation of the state of Israel; the second is a discussion of the relationship between the Israelis and Palestinians since the establishment of Israel in 1948. He explains how that history has influenced the collective Israeli attitude and how they see the conflict between themselves and the Palestinians today.

The author clearly writes from an Israeli point of view. However, he makes a serious effort to try to understand and acknowledge the conflict between their two peoples from the Palestinian perspective as well. He recognizes under Israeli occupation Palestinians suffer constant frustration, humiliation, and even sometimes physical abuse.

The most valuable part of this book in my mind is the author’s discussion of the painful choices facing Palestinians and Israelis since both peoples have legitimate claims on the same land. He offers practical, though not necessarily popular, solutions to their conflict so they may live side by side peacefully in two sovereign states.

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