To my brothers and sisters of the Arab World, shalom and Salam from your brother Yitzhak! I wish only peace upon you in the name of Hashem our Eloah, “Ha-Shem” which in Hebrew means “The Name,” in reference to the most holy and unpronounceable Name of God according to Judaism. Eloah, which is the Hebrew word directly related to the Aramaic Ellah, which is the bridge to the Holy Name of God in Arabic, Allah, blessed be He, for I think we both agree, He is One. Our peoples, however, are obviously not one, although we come from the same common ancestor, namely Avraham Avinu (Our father Abraham) whom you call Abu Ibrahim, peace be upon him. According to our Torah, he had 8 sons, the eldest of whom were two brothers from different mothers, Ishmael/Ismail and Yitzhak, peace be upon them. Ishmael himself had 12 sons and is known today as the ancient father of the Arab peoples. Yitzhak had two, twins from the same mother, whose names were Esav, father of the Idumean people, and Ya’akov, peace be upon him, who was later named Israel, father of the 12 Tribes of Israel, also known as, the Jewish people. Together throughout our different histories, we have shared the same land and called it home, namely, the Middle East, the Holy Land, and we are both indigenous peoples of that sacred region, to deny this is to deny human history. But today I must address you boldly, not as an Arab, for I too am half Lebanese on my father’s side, but as a proud and unapologetic Biblically Zionist Jew in defense of my people and ancestral roots on my mother’s side. For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still.
I once heard a renowned and respected Palestinian American university professor say, “Jews are a religion, and were never a people,” claiming that Jewish nationalism was a mere invention of modern Zionism; it seemed to me this man had never read a Hebrew or Christian Bible in his life. You may counter me by saying, “Have you read the Qur’an then sir?” I would say, I have, and my favorite part is located in Surah 2 “Al-Baqarah” verse 62 which states:
“Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish Scriptures, and the Christians and the Sabians, any who believe in Allah and the last day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
I also enjoyed reading Surah 5, “Al-Ma’idah”, verses 20 -21, which states as follows:
“ Remember Moses said to his people, call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when He produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what He had not given to any other among the peoples. Oh my people, enter the Holy Land, which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown to your own ruin.”
Our ancestors did indeed turn their backs on God, and were exiled from our land, but Moses and all our prophets including Isaiah whom you also believe in as a prophet, declared that God is merciful and loves His servants and in His love will one day bring the 12 tribes of Israel back from exile and restore us to our land of Zion and Jerusalem. Indeed most Islamic commentators from the 8th and 9th centuries and beyond uniformly interpreted the Qur’an to say explicitly that the Land of Israel has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. They insist that this is an ever-lasting covenant between God and the Jewish people. That does not mean, however, that Islam is invalid, on the contrary, Islam has brought the holy knowledge of monotheism to half the world, even as Christianity has brought monotheism to the other half. Both religions have truth and beauty in them, but both religions also contain the corruption of human hands, to deny this is to ignore reality. Christianity and Islam are the daughter and granddaughter of Judaism; Judaism which itself is far from perfect, but also possesses much wisdom and truth. Islam’s history, however, is not without instances of antisemitism, that is, anti-Jewish hate. Antisemitism is a word that contains within it the name of Shem, son of Noach, peace be upon them, whom God instructed to build the ark to survive the flood. From his three sons, Shem, Ham and Yahfeth we all descend, but we the peoples of the Middle East are called Semites because we descend from the line and house of Shem. However, the term “antisemitism” was coined in 1879 by Wilhelm Marr, who himself was neither Jewish nor Arab, but a German who hated Jews and wanted to give his baseless hatred a more “scientific sounding” name. The word itself has sadly been globally accepted to refer to the specific hatred of Jewish people. The statement that as Semites themselves, Arabs cannot possibly be antisemitic, is ludicrous and ignorant, as the largest festering hot-bed of antisemitism in the world today happens to be the Middle East. Renowned American columnist Richard Cohen said it best,
“The Arab world is the last bastion of unbridled, unashamed, unhidden and unbelievable antisemitism. Hitlerian myths get published in the popular press as incontrovertible truths. The Holocaust either gets minimized or denied… How the Arab world will ever come to terms with Israel when Israelis are portrayed as the devil incarnate is hard to figure out.”
So the problem is not the religion, but the conduct of its many followers. I recall a conversation with a relative of mine, an Arab man, who wanted to share his music with me. And it was beautiful, but then I wanted to share my music with him, and when I did, he turned his back to me, stood up and claimed that “Jews don’t know what else to do but to copy Arab culture, because they have no music of their own and are not from the Middle East, but from Europe.” Then he had the audacity to look at me, knowing I’m Jewish, and claiming to have Jewish friends, and dared ask me if he was right. I felt enraged by his foolish statements, but I maintained my composure and merely took a sip from my hot chai, and in that moment, my silence and refusal to even acknowledge his statements was louder than any words I could have spoken. Out loud I informed him that I respectfully disagree, but on the inside, I wanted to call him an ignorant fool, because saying so would not be untrue! Alas, there is no hospitality in the world like Arab hospitality, but there is neither such blatant arrogance in the world like Arab arrogance! The history of the Middle East is sadly written in blood, and although you may hate to admit it, much of that blood was spilled by the hands of overzealous Muslim conquerors. Just so we’re clear, Christian Crusaders were even worse and often acted without any sense of honor as opposed to noble Muslim leaders like Salahuddin Ayubi, a Kurdish Muslim, whose own personal physician was none other than Rabbeinu Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as Maimonides, Rambam, or Ibn Maimun in Arabic. My quarrel here, therefore, is not with Islam as a religion, but with the conduct of its supposed followers in later years. We cannot simply whitewash Islamic history and pretend there were never any atrocities committed, because there were several over the centuries.
How quickly you forget, that Jews lived peacefully in your lands, from Morocco to Persia, Arabia and Yemen, for centuries as natural indigenous peoples of the Middle East. Jews did indeed fare better in Islamic lands than in Christian lands, but that does not mean that all Muslims are innocent! Let me recount to you some of the massacres inflicted on the Jewish people and other minorities at the hands of Muslims and let history bear witness that my words are true! I hereby present before you a list of violent atrocities committed by Muslims against Jews and others since the rise of Islam in the 7th Century CE until today.
- 622 CE: Mohammad travels to Yathrib as the majority of Jews of the city refused to recognize him as prophet and are subsequently expelled, city renamed Medina.
- 627 Muslims kill 600-900 Jewish men at the Battle of Al-Khandaq (The Trench) and divide the women and children amongst themselves, a pivotal battle in Islamic history.
- In the 8th Century Caliph Omar II issues a decree, strictly enforced in the 9th century by Caliph al-Mutawakkil that all “dhimmis” (non-Muslim minorities) should wear special badges of distinction. Jews are forced to wear yellow badges for the first time in history and made to wear special clothing to further humiliate and subjugate them. This was a practice later adopted by the Catholic Church and finally, by Nazi Germany.
- In the 8th Century Muslim Ruler of Morocco Idris I, wipes out entire communities of Moroccan Jews.
- Decrees issued for the destruction of synagogues and forced conversions to Islam in Iraq 854-859, and again in 1344. Egypt and Syria issue similar decrees in 1014, 1293-1294, and 1301-1302. More forced conversions to Islam in Yemen in 1165 and 1678. Forced conversions in Morocco in 1275, 1465, 1790-1792 and Baghdad between 1333 and 1344.
- December 30th, 1066, Yoseph HaNagid, the Jewish vizier of Granada was publically crucified by an Arab mob that proceeded to attack and slaughter 5,000 Jews living in the region.
- 12th Century Morocco and Granada: Almohads go on a conquering rampage, destroying Jewish towns, desecrating Torah scrolls, forcibly converting Jews to Islam and killing anyone who refused.
- 1465 Fez, Morocco: Arab mobs decimate the Jewish community of the city, killing most of the Jews and leaving only 11 alive, “because a Jewish deputy vizier supposedly touched a Muslim woman in an offensive manner.” The massacre of Fez that year led to similar killings of thousands of Jews throughout Morocco.
- Libya 1785: Ali Bursi Pasha kills hundreds of Jews
- 1805, 1815 & 1830 Jews massacred in Algiers.
- 1834 The Peasants’ Revolt sees the Jewish Community of Hebron ravaged by Ottoman Turks. Jews are killed in Tzfat (Safed), and Jerusalem as well.
- Between 1864 and 1880 over 300 Jews are killed in Marrakesh, Morocco.
- 19th Century North African Jews of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt all forcibly relocated to ghettos. In Morocco Jews are made to walk barefoot or wear shoes made of straw when outside the ghettos. Ritual murders of Jews for whatever reason became common, and Arab children would often hurl stones at Jews walking by them.
- 1915: Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Between 600,000 to 1.5 million Armenian people are senselessly murdered.
- 1929 Hebron Massacre, 69 Jews killed, hundreds more beaten and tortured, women raped, at the mercy of Arab mobs incited by the grand mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini. Husseini later finds a friend and ally in Adolf Hitler, provides the Nazis with entire divisions of Bosnian Muslim SS troops, many of whom participated in the Holocaust during World War II.
- Mass Arab riots break out across the British Mandate of Palestine in the 1940s; over 1,000 Jews are murdered across Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, triggering the eventual mass exodus of over 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, many of whom would come to live in modern Israel.
- Farhud: on June 1st, 1941, while celebrating the Jewish Holiday of Shavuot, Jews of Baghdad, Iraq were violently attacked by mobs of angry Arabs spurred by Nazi propaganda. The exact number is unknown, but it is estimated that up to 600 Jewish men, women and children were murdered, hundreds more severely wounded, Jewish women were gang raped and mutilated, synagogues and Jewish homes desecrated and destroyed.
- And to this day Christians and Jews in Yemen, Ethiopia, Sudan and Nigeria suffer the wrath of radical Islamic terror groups like the Houthis, Boko Haram, al Shabaab, among others.
- The Kurdish people have long suffered the brutality of Islamic regimes, most Kurds being themselves devoted Muslims.
- To this day there are thousands of Muslim and Christian Arab Israeli soldiers who willingly serve in the Israel Defense Forces, not because they have to, but because they want to. Have you ever wondered why?
These are but a few of countless more examples and as you can see, the situation for Jews and other minorities of the Middle East was never all “sunshine and rainbows.” Although Jews did indeed fare better in Muslim lands than in Christian Europe, Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews of North Africa and the Middle East still faced their own version of antisemitic hell. Muslim leaders would often justify their attacks based on religious reasons or they would accuse a Jewish politician or aristocrat of conspiracy and corruption. Jews were considered dhimmis, and as such, paying the jizya tax meant acknowledging Muslim “superiority” and accepting the title of “infidel.” Jews were often subjected to various forms of public humiliations, and in many Arab countries, Jews had to yield the right of way to Muslims while walking in public. We are obviously focusing on antisemitism in the Middle East, so it goes without saying that Europe was indeed the most common region where you would find pogroms, inquisitions, forced conversions, and Crusader massacres of entire Jewish villages and the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, many of whom did find refuge in Muslim lands of the Ottoman Empire, whose benevolent Sultan Bayezid II welcomed the Jews with open arms, and during such time Jews enjoyed a period of peaceful coexistence under Ottoman rule. In Europe, however, antisemitism was sadly the norm for generations. Antisemitism became so bad in Europe by the late 19th century, that it encouraged a group of passionate and educated Jewish leaders from Russia, Austria, and other countries to do something about it.
Well over a century ago, there was a group of intellectual Jews in Europe, who witnessed all the massacres and pogroms inflicted on our people in a seemingly endless cycle, and although they considered themselves secular Jews, they still recalled the ancient holy writings, and the words of our sages, fathers and mothers. They simply decided enough was enough, and that time had come to take matters into our own hands and do something about it. The first one to dream of a revival of Hebrew nationalism, was a man from what is modern day Ukraine by the name of Leo Pinsker; he was the spark that lit the flames that fueled the passion of the man who would be called the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl. He, along with Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill, and a number of other Jews from around the world believed that it was time to fight for the return of our people and restore our nationhood. Herzl, however, was not a socialist, and his dream spelled out in his book The Jewish State envisioned an entirely different way to go about it than what his successors made of his vision. In August of 1897, the first Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland. And there Zangwill recalled the ancient Psalm 137 when he declared, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we wept, when we remembered Zion… And by the rivers of Basel, we resolved to weep no more!” Tell me, if God was not with them, would their plans have succeeded? Would Israel even exist today if God had not willed it so?
Herzl himself was somewhat of a capitalist, and insisted that Ottoman Occupied Palestine had to be purchased legally from the Turks before mass emigrations of Jews began. However, Herzl sadly died in July of 1904 of heart failure; his last words are recorded as having said to his friend Reverend William Hechler, “Greet Palestine for me. I gave my heart’s blood for my people.” Before his death, Herzl also predicted that his vision of a Jewish State would take another 50 years to accomplish. He was stunningly correct, but he also objected to the direction in which Hovevei Tzion (Lovers of Zion), a deeply secular Socialist Jewish movement inspired by other such movements in Eastern Europe at the time, was taking. Although there had always been a Jewish presence in the region of Palestine, their population had grown once more by the late 19th century, and by the early 20th century, mass populations of Jews from different regions were emigrating to Palestine to join their fellow indigenous Palestinian Jews, who were already by the late 1800s, the majority of the population within the Holy City of Jerusalem. The socialist Zionists inevitably took the helm of the ship that was the Zionist vision, and although not exactly what Herzl had in mind, they nonetheless worked the land, tilled the ground, made the desert bloom once more, and established communities of cities and Kibbutzim. Through the work of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, they managed to revive the ancient Hebrew language, kept alive for generations by our mothers who recited the Shema Israel in our ears every day as children, and the rabbis who always made an effort to keep Hebrew and Aramaic as the sacred language of study and prayer. By the middle of the 20th century, Hebrew was successfully restored as the national language of Palestinian Jews. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, whose experience forming the Jewish Legion under the British Empire during World War I, had first offered to fight for the Ottoman Turks in exchange for a Jewish State in Palestine. When they refused, he and his Jewish warriors fought for the British instead. Thanks to the efforts of Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann and Lord Walter Rothschild, the British Government issued the famous Balfour Declaration in November of 1917, promising assistance with the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. One year later, Jerusalem fell to the British, when they defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Megiddo in the fall of 1918. In December of that same year, General Edmund Allenby of the British Empire dismounted from his horse and walked into Jerusalem, interestingly, the date coincided with a prediction made by the Prophet Daniel thousands of years before.
Now let us review the history of the land you call Palestine. Who were first people to call it such? The Biblical Philistines you say? They certainly invaded and occupied the coasts of Gaza and Ashkelon for centuries but they never succeeded in conquering the entire region. They were subdued by Kings Shaul and David of the Kingdom of Israel and later wiped out under King Hezekiah. So who then, were the first to name the entire region, from the river to the sea, Palestine? Search through any history book, or even Google it if you will, and see that it is a globally accepted fact that it was the Roman Emperor Hadrian who, in 132 CE, decided to change the name of the land from the ancient original name of Yehuda/Yudea (Judea), to “Palestinae” after putting down the Bar Kochbah Jewish Revolt in Jerusalem, in an effort to further humiliate the Jews and discourage any future claims to their homeland of Israel. Ever since, and even after the fall of Rome, the Holy Land continued to be internationally recognized as “Palestine,” but was never once an independent state. It was continually occupied by empire after empire, by both Byzantine Christians and by several different Muslim powers. Jerusalem was also renamed “Aelia Capitolina” for a short time, and the Romans even erected a pagan temple on the holy temple mount, but it only stood for a short time, as the Byzantines would later control the city and then the Islamic Caliphate. Muslims would name the city “Al-Quds” (The Noble Sanctuary), and on the temple mount, “haram al sharif”, they would build the Dome of the Rock atop the ruins of the Jewish Temple and the al-Aqsa mosque would later be built just a few acres south of it where both shrine and mosque still stand to this day. But who named the city first?
In fact, Jerusalem, also lovingly called “Tzion” (Zion) by King David in the Tanak (Hebrew Bible) nearly 3,000 years ago, is referred to in the Qur’an, written merely 1,442 years ago, but never specifically mentioned by name, instead, it claims Mecca to be the new chosen place of God. In our Tanak, however, it is mentioned well over 600 times and although our temple was destroyed, it is also written that Hashem will not only bring us back, but also rebuild our fallen Temple, and will choose Jerusalem once more as in days of old, in a renewed era of unprecedented peace on earth, what we call the Messianic era. And Moses our teacher and prophet, peace be upon him, did prophecy about our exile, if our ancestors were disobedient. They were indeed exiled, but in our Torah, the first five books and the heart of the Hebrew Bible, Moses also says that God promises to one day bring our people back from the four corners of the earth, back to Zion, back to Israel. And thus since the Roman legions under Titus Vespasian destroyed the Temple of Hashem and devastated Jerusalem, our people of Judea were scattered to the farthest places of the earth. There was, however, always a small remnant minority of indigenous Jews living in the land of Judea, which the Romans then called, “Palestinae” in an effort to discourage any hope of returning as we once did under Cyrus the Great of Persia centuries before. Throughout our long exile however, through nearly 2,000 years of wandering from country to country, region to region, persecuted and massacred by peoples on all sides, by Christians and Muslims, by Communists and Capitalists, through endless years of Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, and culminating in the Holocaust, we still held tightly on, and never let go, of that ancient Hope, as our fathers and mothers sang every year at the Passover Seder table, “Next year in Jerusalem,” and our prayers petitioned daily to Hashem our Eloah, for our promised return to Zion and the restoration of our nation and people. Though living in far-away lands, or even living in the Land itself, we never forgot our beloved Judea, and the Hope to one day live in freedom in our land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Fools and hypocrites! You claim to be the most open minded of peoples and the most tolerant, yet if I were to recite world history to you, surely your response to me would be, “Western history does not tell the truth, it’s full of lies and corruption, because history is written by the victors.” This is the typical response I have gotten from many Arab Muslims, and how wrong and arrogant you are! If that is the narrative you want to use, since when has the Islamic world been the losers throughout history? Let heaven and earth bear witness for me, that you are guilty! The Islamic conquest of the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Asia is a history written in slavery, subjugation and bloodshed since the days of your prophet Mohammad until this very day! The Jews of Yathrib lived in peace with all the Arab tribes until Muslims expelled them and renamed the city Medina. The Temple Mount still lay in ruins until your Caliphate reached Jerusalem in the 7th century and had the audacity to erect a Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock, over the ruins of the Jewish Temple and then dare to claim that our Temple was never there! God then makes you fools through the rocks and the dirt which cry out to you with coins and stones carved with ancient Hebrew writings and artifacts, which you dare remove and discard as mere trash, throwing holy artifacts into heaps to be destroyed as mere rubbish! Yes both your sacred spaces, Haram al Sharif and Al Aqsa Mosque are built over the platform built by King Herod of Judea centuries before one Muslim ever existed or even entered the Holy Land. Tell me now, who occupies whose land? How dare you oh occupiers of Judea!
Arrogance is a Muslim who has memorized the Qur’an but simultaneously declares confidently that it is the true revelation from God, and that all other religions and books that came before were corrupted and ignorant. It is building the Dome of the Rock and al Aqsa on top of the ruins of the Jewish Temple and then have the nerve to declare that it belongs to them and the Jews were never there. Muslim arrogance is discovering copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls including the writings of prophets like Isaiah held sacred in Islam as well, proving that the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) has not changed in the last 2,000 years, and selling off pieces of it as souvenirs or even used to make sandal straps, insulting everything Islam, Christianity and Judaism stand for, the later of the three Abrahamic religions being well over 3,000 years older than the Islam and 2,000 years older than Christianity. Once more, this may seem like an attack on Islam, but it is not, in fact I have learned many important values from Islam that have helped me in my Jewish faith, as I have also learned some values from Christianity as well, because we have much more in common than we do different. My war is not with Muslims, but with hypocrites in Islam, Christianity and even my own Judaism, we can adhere to our religions and honestly admit our sins at the same time, there is no shame in that. In life I have learned that there are good people, and evil people in every culture and religion. There are those who are truly devoted to God in their own way where you can feel the divine spark and see it in their eyes, beautiful people who help those in need, because this is God’s mandate to all of us, and then there are evil people who give a bad name to their faith and culture and seek to harm others in the name of God, bringing shame to His kingdom. What I do advocate for, however, is Jewish rights, because they have long been ignored and mistreated by both Christians and Muslims. Therefore we say, no more! No longer will we be silent! Judea belongs to Jews! Israel belongs to the Children of Israel, just like Arabia belongs to Arabs, Egypt belongs to the Egyptians, and Jordan belongs to Jordanians!
Nor am I saying that the Israeli side is perfect, far from we must admit. And those among my fellow Jews who deny that injustices were done against the Arab inhabitants of Palestine, do not realize that they are only harming themselves more. We must admit that history is what it is, it is both ugly and beautiful, like humanity, it is full of good and evil. We cannot change the past, but we can accept and embrace it, learn from it, and solve the problems of today to improve the future for all of us, both Arabs and Jews, and all the good people of the world. When Israel gained its independence in 1948, it was indeed a solemn sacred occasion for Jews around the world, because the prayers of 2,000 years had at long last been answered as our exile ended and our people returned from the 4 corners of the world. But for our Arab neighbors, it was what you call, “Nakbah (disaster).” We must be as realistic as possible and not leave room for exaggeration or bias on either side. In order to move on and progress to peace we must face the elephant in the room and address the issues that affect us. That day there were over 750,000 Palestinian Arabs who became refugees. Most openly admit that they left either of their own accord for fear of the war, or because they were encouraged to by Arab nationalist leaders who promised them a speedy return, but the reality is that some were indeed forcefully evicted from their homes by Haganah and Irgun forces, which would later combine to become the Israel Defense Forces. It was not, however, most of the cases, as most Palestinian families chose to leave of their own accord. Then there were incidents like the Deir Yassin Massacre, where Irgun Forces attacked an Arab village on the way to Jerusalem, killing civilians, women and children in the process. There is no sense in denying that this did happen, and it was wrong! However, Arabs must also acknowledge that attacks like these were in direct response to Arab massacres of Jews that were happening all over the region at the time. There were atrocities committed on both sides, and both our sides must be humble enough to admit it and realize, none of us of this generation were alive when this happened. This was the generation of our parents and grandparents. If we want to honor their memories, from whichever side you are, what sense is there in carrying on the senseless violence? What sense is there in demonizing Jews or Palestinian Arabs? Realize that we are both human beings full of hopes and dreams, and full of flaws and mortality. Our children should not grow up to become martyrs or terrorists! Our kids should grow up to become scientists, doctors, engineers, historians, teachers, singers, athletes, or whatever they want to be, not to hurt people. The reality of the situation is, Israel is here to stay, Jews have returned to our homeland and we are not going anywhere, just like Palestinian Arabs are also very much a part of this land and not going anywhere. After the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the wars in Lebanon, the Intifadas, and all the times you’ve tried to drive Jews into the sea, and failing, isn’t it time to admit that maybe God wants the Jews to stay? For better or worse, fate has placed us together in this land so it has fallen to us to decide how we will live with each other. Will we go on hating and murdering each other? Or will we allow God to awaken holiness and righteousness within us in love, and decency, with respect for one another’s dignity, cultures and history. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are noble religions with so much rich value, that if taught correctly can form the foundation of an enlightened progressive society. But every culture and religion has its own dark side, to deny the beast within us is only to feed it so it grows stronger. To accept it, and admit our wrongs, and make a conscious effort today to make things right before God and humanity, we can do what so many think is impossible, achieve true and lasting Salam, Shalom, Peace in our generation.
Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist, just as Israel already recognizes Palestinians’ right to exist. As long as one side keeps refusing to do this, and as long as the education we give our children is not drastically reformed, the status quo will not change and we will damn ourselves to another generation of fighting and bloodshed. Jews belong in our native Holy Land of Israel, just like Palestinians belong in their native Land of Palestine, it is the same Holy Land to all of us! A Commonwealth, therefore, a Federation of sorts among all existing tribes, is the only logical answer! I am talking about a solution where the State of Israel exists and a State of Palestine exists in the same land, both represented in the Knesset, both having their capital in Jerusalem and both citizens enjoying equal rights. A Common Army would be formed combining Israeli and Palestinian forces in defense of their homeland. In order for all this to work, however, one thing has to change and it is at the root of everything, EDUCATION. Education is the key to everything, and so long as we keep teaching our children to hate the other side, nothing will change. I have detailed what a Commonwealth of Israel and Palestine would look like in a separate article titled under the same name. It is a much shorter read, but I encourage anyone reading, especial my fellow Jewish and Arab peoples, to read and consider the possibilities. There was once a vision, forged between Chaim Weizmann of the Zionists and Emir Faisal of Hejaz, of a prosperous Middle East that unfortunately never came to be, because the devil came between our peoples in the form of hate, war and bloodshed. Let us now reclaim that vision of mutual cooperation, of a free and prosperous future for the entire Middle East! That dream was shattered by the hatred of radical muftis, and vengeful militants on both sides. But now it has fallen to us, with the 21st Century as a new opportunity, to seize the day and reclaim the vision of Herzl, Weizmann and Faisal. Now is the time to sow the seeds of peace, to plant them in the soil, water and nurture them, so that a beautiful and vibrant tree of life will grow for all of us, and both our peoples could sit under its shade and rest easy, ensuring a life of happiness, honor, dignity and health for us and for our children after us. No more calling for the destruction of Israe1! No more injustices on Palestinians! Together we can forge a new vision! From the river to the sea, peace will always set us free! May it be, Insha’Allah, b’ezrat Hashem, God willing, in our days. Amen! Salam aleicom and shalom alechem!