Letter from a Palestinian
to an Israeli
by Hakam Kanafani

Dear neighbor: I am in pain. I see people on the streets dying, I see people in their homes bombed, I see people in restaurants killed. I decided to write to you today despite all the barriers between us. This is just an explanation of how we Palestinians think and what we Palestinians believe. Maybe, just maybe, it will bring us closer.

Some of my words you will not trust. Some of my words will shock you. Indeed, some might even hurt you. But you must read on because life is too short and the land we share is too small. Because our children are too troubled. Because our dreams are too precious.

Firstly, I believe in your right to exist in peace and security. I also believe in a Palestinian state next to Israel, not instead of Israel. The vast majority of Palestinians truly believe in this scenario.

Secondly, we believe the Israeli conscience is immune to the atrocities your army and settlers commit against us.All Israeli terrorists are mere lunatics, all the civilians you kill are by mistake, all the houses you demolish are owned by sub-humans, all the people tortured in your detention camps are terrorists, all the land you confiscate is biblical.

Thirdly, your moral argument concerning civilian casualties is, to us, the pinnacle of hypocrisy. This is not because we are morally inept but because your army does exactly the same thing you always deplore; your army kills civilians almost daily. Civilians die and terrorism is committed whether you use an F-16 or a car bomb.

Fourthly, Israel continues to down-play the occupation. For 35 years, you've enslaved us. You never stopped building settlements. You've created generations of Palestinian nothingness that can lead only to desperation and violence. How did you expect us to react?

Fifthly, a powerful army can never extinguish a people's struggle for independence and freedom. No leader (not even Arafat) can restrain a man who saw his son beaten by a teenage, gun-happy soldier. You've planted the seeds, you are now reaping the harvest.

I emphasize that I and the vast majority of Palestinians support Israel's right to exist in safe, secure borders. This must be alongside a sovereign Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital. You have a choice to make. Either security and security, or military occupation. I know that Palestine will be free. You will not run our lives anymore.

Written by Hakam Kanafani, General Manager of the Palestinian mobile phone company Jawwal.


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