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Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,420 ratings  ·  187 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 of Like Dreamers directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestin
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Harper
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Rima Nakhala I am Palestinian and I am now halfway through the book. I find myself going through conflicting emotions reading through the pages, which doesn't stem…moreI am Palestinian and I am now halfway through the book. I find myself going through conflicting emotions reading through the pages, which doesn't stem only from my roots or the writer's but also due my personal beliefs, however there's a comfort to see how the writer had laid out the conflict from opposing points of view at times and his acknowledgement of how our narratives are deeply rooted into us to cause both sides the tragedy we live in today, and how badly we need a real solution. Not sure if you have already read the book but thought to answer your question anyway! (less)

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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 equ ...more
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 y
Clif Hostetler
This book consists of ten open letters addressed to anonymous Palestinian neighbor(s) asking for empathy and understanding of the aspirations for Jewish peoplehood represented by the nation of Israel. The author pauses from time to time in his writing to acknowledge similar aspirations on the part of the Palestinians.

Each of the ten chapters (a.k.a. letters) takes on a different aspect of the centuries-long discord between Arabs and Jews. The book's narrative moves from personal reflections and
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 l
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 respect
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
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 t
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 f
Zuzana Kubáň
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
While I appreciate the author’s effort to reach out to his “neighbor” and the commitment to take the book as a letter seriously and engage with any Palestinians who might reply to this book, I am not sure if the book can fulfill the goal of being a “dialogue starter”. The main reason for this is simply that the author was still being patronizing, blaming Palestinians and presenting strongly pro-Israeli views.
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 sol ...more
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
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 wil
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.
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 appreci
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,
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 dishearteni ...more
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 recomme ...more
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.
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 vulnerabilit ...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 Jews and non Jews living in Palestine/Israel. 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 ...more
Erika Dreifus
Essential reading. Find my review on the My Machberet blog. ...more
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
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this book moving and just a little hopeful. Halevi describes the Jewish emotional connection to Israel that was reinforced, but not created, by the Holocaust. He acknowledges that the Zionist settlers in modern times, since the late 19th century, did not acknowledge that people were already living in the land and their lives had to be respected. He also takes aim at the Palestinian narrative about Israel that the Jews are only a religion, not a people, and that Jews had no history in the ...more
Kavish Gandhi
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful take on one of the world's most difficult conflicts, from someone who has lived through much of its history. With its faults, surely, but a really wonderful, honest, and vulnerable attempt at starting a dialogue, or at least tracing how the dialogue might be started. It is surely easier for the "oppressors" or "occupiers" or "victors" to do so, however, and there is certainly legitimate criticism that this book does not sufficiently acknowledge, or overly excuses, the abuses that th ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating and unique little book. The frame is a set of ten letters written by the author to a Palestinian neighbor. He does not know this neighbor, Halevi explains, and doesn’t know to whom to send these letters. And that is part of the story of the letters: the need for these neighbors to speak to each other, but there is seemingly infinite distance to reach each other. The letters to an anonymous neighbor express a sense of hope although one that is shadowed by the vast distance t ...more
Several times a year I stumble upon a book that seems very important to me. Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor is just such a book. I am grateful to its author, Yossi Klein Halevi for writing it. I am lucky to have read it. I love Israel. I love the spiritual idea of Israel. Yet having just met you may not know that about me. I’ve tended to be heavy handed and harsh in my criticism of Israel’s handling of the conflict with their Palestinian neighbors. Like so many people living elsewhere in the ...more
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this very sincere but sad book. Yossi Halevi lives in a house in Israel that overlooks a wall separating Israel from the West bank. He is a writer who has participated in several Arab-Israeli peace activities, including a trip with Jewish and Arab participants to Auschwitz. He is well-versed in the history of Israel as well as Arab-Israeli conflict. He wishes and prays for peace frequently as he looks over the Wall at his Palestinian neighbors he never has met.

The letters expr
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