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Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,031 ratings  ·  150 reviews
New York Times bestseller

"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 ofLike Dreamersdirectly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Harper
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Victoria Solkovits I don't think it will be triggering so to speak, the book does a phenomenal job of addressing how this one Israeli's narrative is certainly different…moreI don't think it will be triggering so to speak, the book does a phenomenal job of addressing how this one Israeli's narrative is certainly different from the Palestinians, and was written with the actual of mission of one day being able to ask his real Palestinian neighbors these questions and have a conversation face to face. Really humanizing, I thought, and a good perspective of what it's like living in a land surrounded by conflict.(less)

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Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
For me, there wasn’t much new in YKH’s words – part history part musing - they seemed very familiar. Yet, I was impressed by the eloquence with which he put together all those heartfelt thoughts and feelings.

YKH’s letters, in nutshell, seemed to boil down to the following pleas:

Please recognize that we are a nation, not just a religion, but that either way, Israel is an inextricable part of our peoplehood and religion.

Please recognize our 2000-year long connection to the land and our undying
Jul 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on this book about halfway through - I thought the author was patronizing and self-serving. Although he claims to want a "dialogue" with his Palestinian neighbors, what he really wants is to preach at them as to why he (Jewish people) deserve to live in the entire land of Israel (while maybe making some minuscule "accommodation" to the Palestinians who have been live there for several millennia. He tries to justify the Jewish connection to the land, while ignoring the Palestinian's ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
I’ll admit that it was with some skepticism that I picked up this book, but am very happy to have read it. I applaud the author for his efforts in extending a hand in peace to his Palestinian neighbor. Halevi’s 10 open letters seems to me a genuine conciliatory gesture, when he says:

Neither of us is likely to convince the other of each side’s narrative. Each of us lives within a story so deeply rooted in our being, so defining of our collective and personal existence, that forfeiting our
To doubt the possibility of reconciliation is to limit God’s power, the possibility of miracle—especially in this land. The Torah commands me, “Seek peace and pursue it”—even when peace appears impossible, perhaps especially then. (p. 19).

My family has lived in the US for fewer than 125 years, yet Ireland (where most of my father's family comes from) and Germany (my mother's family) barely touch me. My grandfather, whose older sisters were born in Germany, spoke only a wee bit of German around
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Yossi Klein Halevi intends to break the silence between Israelis and Palestinians. The book details different viewpoints from both sides of the conflict, as well as the author’s own viewpoint and personal story, all in an attempt to explain the Israeli side of the conflict to Palestinians, while staying sympathetic to both sides. The author, being Jewish and living in Israel, takes a stance that is more in favor of Israel, but in support of a two-state ...more
Laila Kanon
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
I was profoundly moved by this book. Many times, I had to put it down, just to breathe or else just let a tear or two drops onto my cheeks as I read between pages. This author bares his heart and soul to his “neighbour” something that involve vulnerability with the hope that his neighbour will ignore her/his prejudice and reads it with goodwill and openness.
Some issues that I want to address in this book:
1) Why address the Arab neighbour as Palestinian? I notice the acceptable generalization
Jun 25, 2018 rated it liked it
After hearing an interview with the author, I got the book. The interview was better than the book.

One strength of the book was insight in some moments of what it feels like to be a Jew, what 2000 years of longing for return to "Zion" mean to at least one man. One weakness is the residual of rationalization and self justification that intrudes, more early on than later.

(Disclaimer: I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian)

In the early chapters there were moments of acknowledging Palestinian pain. I
There are few things in the world today more complicated than establishing and keeping peace in the Middle East (though we were led to believe that Jared Kushner was going to sort it out in a matter of weeks, ha!).

The Jewish-Palestinian situation in Israel has certainly had more downs than ups over the last 60 years, but Halevi's collection of open letters is as educational as it is thought-provoking and inspiring. It's truly a peace offering; a literary olive branch extended to his neighbours
Cindy H.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this book eloquent, genuine and very easy to comprehend. Mr. HaLevi is upfront with his readers, staring he is representing his Jewish point of view but he wishes to engage in a real dialogue. I read the new paperback edition that includes several responses from Palestinian readers and other Arab neighbors, so I was able to “hear” from both “sides”. I applaud the initiative Yossi Klein HaLevi undertakes and I respect what all voices have to say. For me, this book was somewhat ...more
Howard Jaeckel
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yossi Klein Halevi’s humanity is evident on every page of “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor.” He is a good man and a beautiful writer.

But I cannot agree, as some have said, that he is an original thinker. For anyone who has closely followed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and knows something of its history, it requires no particular originality to recognize that the claims of both sides have substantial call on justice. As an American Jew and a strong supporter of Israel, I have long
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
An experienced journalist, religious Jew supporter of the two-state solution with knowledge of the Palestinian society and Islam, Yossi Klein Halevi wrote a wise book aimed at explaining Zionism to the 'Palestinian Neighbor'. In a poetic language, infused with wisdom and moderation, he is offering his version, neither right or left.

The book - that will soon be translated into Arabic - is a confession - 'sharing my faith and my story' - from the bottom of the heart and I wonder if or ever we
Peter Eckstein
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is what I wrote on Yossi Klein Halevi's Facebook page.

I just finished reading the book. As I read it, my initial cynicism evaporated. You present the Zionist/Jewish dream eloquently. I heard your interview on Unorthodox and understand that you had two audiences in mind - Palestinian and American Jewish. I pray that a heartfelt response will come from a representative of the Palestinian people. However what is crucial is that this book presents an exquisitely humane retelling or our story,
Patty Shlonsky
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor is a thoughtful and thought provoking narrative on the importance of Israel to Jews and Palestinians, the need for a two state solution and the complexity of the Palestinian Israeli relationship. The book provides some historical and contemporary perspective and made me want to learn more about the history described in the book. More importantly the book does an excellent job stressing the importance of understanding and humanity in all things. I highly ...more
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-publisher
Sincere, imploring, and introspective. I relished the beautiful writing in this series of letters & empathized with both Israelis and Palestinians as I learned more about the conflict that grieves the two cultures/nations.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ve never felt such a variety of reactions to a book. At times I empathized with his views, at other times I completely disagreed with him. But through this book I came away with a deeper understanding of the Palestinian Israeli conflict that seemed to be grounded in real practical solutions.
Sleepless Dreamer
Jul 01, 2019 rated it liked it
So I found this in the library in my Jewish summer camp and finished it (can we talk about how all my campers read all the time and I love them all?).

Anyway, I found the writing beautiful. It's a succinct description of the Israeli side of the conflict, I recommend this for people who aren't familiar with it.

Other than that, this book felt like a missed opportunity. One of my favorite books (and possibly the best I've read about Israel and Judaism) is Letters to Thalia. It's powerful because
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Yossi Klein Halevi's Letters...upon return from teaching English in Palestine. Why did you leave America to spend your summer vacation working in Bethlehem? “I needed to know Israeli reality not only from the headlines but from the back pages.” Little did I know that under the media’s cover stories on Israel lay a thick, rich, tumultuous text on the history of Palestine. Jesus grew up in Israel but He was born in Palestine. From His incarnation, Jesus was born to reconcile opposing ...more
Erika Dreifus
Essential reading. Find my review on the My Machberet blog.
Margaret Klein
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This is one of the best books I have read on Israel, ever. Quite simply it is a love poem, written in the form of letters to his Palestinian neighbor who he can see from his porch. He manages to hold his audience throughout as he explains the complex history of Israel--both the land, the people and the state. Just 10 letters. Often with a focus on Jewish holidays. Tisha B'av (timing on this was perfect for me as we approach that next week) with its mourning and hope. Sukkot with its ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book. Halevi has helped bring words to the very same thoughts I have been having for many years. He has really captured the very essence of the issue - neither side can see the other's story. While there is a strong group among Israelis who are willing and able to see the Palestinian narrative, the same cannot be said for the Palestinian side. I hope that Halevi is able to reach some on the other side who are willing to not just listen, but to accept that the Jewish narrative ...more
Erika Dreifus
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jewish-lit
Yes, I already own the hardcover. Yes, I've already read (and written about) the book. So why did I buy the paperback edition, and why am I taking the time to comment about the book again? Because the book remains essential reading, and because the new edition includes equally must-read responses from actual Palestinian (and some other Arab) readers.
Lovely Loveday
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is a heart felt and insightful read that is sure to open your eyes on one of the most tragic divides in modern politics. A collection of beautiful poetic letters that are sure to warm your heart and open your eye helping you to understand the divide between the two.
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a short book that I recommend reading for anyone interested in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. I recommend it more strongly for anyone who feels vehemently partisan about one side or the other. Yossi Halevi is the sanest thinker on this I've ever heard. If any parts offend your sensibilities, please hear him out and finish the book.
Heath Salzman
Full disclosure: I tend to be pro-Israeli. That said, this is an excellent book written by an Israeli author seeking to begin a conversation with his Palestinian neighbors in the hope of, somehow, moving toward peace. The author shared his own story, the story of his nation, and the story of his people unapologetically with the hope that any interrelated Palestinians would be able to better understand his perspective and with the sincere invitation that they would, likewise, write him and share ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4. Listened as an audiobook, narrated by author himself. Years have passed since I learnt about Jewish culture, history and traditions. I am blessed to have a chance to read a lot, discuss, listen and observe from the first hands. This book summarize believes and views of Israelis, who support peace process and who are ready to compromise for the sake of common safety. Recommend it to the people who wants to learn Israeli side of story without medias black and white colors.
Seth Kaplan
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be required reading for anybody who claims to understand Israel and Palestine. Takes a nuanced approach that forces the reader to examine preconceived notions and get out of their comfort zone in order to see any possible solution to this conflict. Even better in the second edition which includes some Palestinian and Arab response letters.
Alan LaPayover
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yossi Klein Halevi always writes from the struggle within his soul to be true to his whole self and to be a mensch. We should all read this. It will not cure our ills, but it may help.
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eloquent and thoughtful overview of the conflict from an Israeli point of view. I hope there's a answer from the other side of the wall.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book.
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about the Israeli/Palestinian history and conflict from this book.
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