Sayed Kashua
Sayed Kashua. Sick of being the "eternal Arab." Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya
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We know how Sayed Kashua feels

In response to “Endgame” (Sayed Kashua, July 4)

We have been readers of Sayed Kashua’s articles in Haaretz for many years, and have admired his work very much. In reading his article, I quite suddenly found myself in tears while reading his eloquent expression of the deep emotional stress about which he writes in this particularly difficult period.

I began thinking about my unexpected physical reaction to his fears and feelings of instability regarding what is currently taking place in our country.

In trying to analyze my strong response to his article, I decided it was because what he is feeling, I also feel as a citizen of Israel – a country I love and to which my husband and I excitedly immigrated 25 years ago.

I, too, am deeply troubled and worry about this land in which we live, with its many outstanding accomplishments in so many spheres, and yet so many oppressive measures faced by many of our citizens.

The ambivalence that such inequities generate is hard to resolve, just as the murder of innocent children, wherever they live, cannot be defended on any grounds. We hope that all perpetrators of such horrific acts are soon brought to justice. The fear-inducing unrest and worry for personal and national safety of all our inhabitants, Jew and Arab alike, must be immediately addressed.

How this will happen I do not know. It is what causes sleepless nights, and fear for our democratic values.

But Sayed’s article helped me – and I am certain many others as well – understand the commonality of this emotional and threatening unease.

Thank you, Sayed, for your personal articulation of these grave concerns shared by many of your readers.

Fradle Pomerantz Freidenreich

Herzliya

Peace already exists

Almost nine years ago, I made aliyah from the Netherlands. I am a woman and a Jew; I am not sure which should come first. I have found my own kind of funny balance in being Jewish. I keep sort of kosher and on Friday evenings I go to the synagogue. Actually, I am not sure whether G-d has invented a name for the way I am thinking. How to describe it? I have had enough of wars, of the hatred, of the terrible words and accusations from both sides; I also have had enough of politics; I do not want to be a left or a right thinker. I want to live in peace, just like every other person in the world.

I cannot stand it anymore. Whenever I read a newspaper, whenever I listen to the radio or watch television, people are accusing each other and fighting with each other. We accuse the Arab people of feeding their kids with hate at their schools – well, we do the same through our media.

Over the years, I have interviewed Jewish, Arab (Christian as well as Muslim), Druze, Bedouin and Palestinian men and women about coexistence. My conclusion: There is much more that unites us than divides us. Peace already exists in and around Israel; unfortunately, the politicians do not know about it yet. The peace exists on a completely different level: the level of us, the “ordinary” people. Incredible things are happening between us, on a small and big scale, and it is about time we opened our eyes.

We need to stop the hatred on both sides … to let go of what happened yesterday.

Let’s start today! With respect, with empathy, with leaders who do not have a first, second, third or even fourth agenda. It needs people on both sides who think outside of the box. It is a change of mind-set, and the sooner we start with this, the more lives will be saved.

Joanne Nihom

Founder of Peace Women

Don’t blame the Bible

In response to “The tribe has spoken” (Editorial, July 7)

The latest cycle of violence has underscored once again just how xenophobic we’ve become as a society. While certainly a cause for worry, the solution this editorial calls for – a humanist cultural revolution – seems partial at best. Secular Jews, especially in this newspaper, have a habit of renouncing their own rich and varied cultural inheritance, assuming that exposure to Jewish sources spawns fundamentalists – as if we don’t have enough of them, they say. We do. However, the Hebraic tradition, with its emphasis on the plurality of interpretation, could be a terrific vehicle for inculcating values compatible with humanism and should be a component of any cultural revolution, alongside the great humanist tracts of the Western canon.

Imposing a purely secular revolution from without will only widen the gulf between secular and religious Jews, as the so-called State of Tel Aviv and the settlers hurl the latest round of mutual accusations at each other. The increasing extremism among many in the religious-Zionist camp isn’t caused by looking inward but by looking inward uncritically, cultivating sanctimonious self-satisfaction rather than careful reflection and consideration of others in our midst. It’s not reading the Bible that causes fanaticism. It’s allowing fundamentalists to be the chief arbiters of the Jewish tradition.

Allison Guri

Tel Aviv