Nov 18, 2012  By Benny Levy  Category: Education,

An Open letter to Arab parents in Gaza


I'm your neighbor from up north - I am an Israeli. I am writing to you in the midst of this unwanted battle because I can't understand how you have developed such hatred towards me. Hatred so profound that you would rather see your children die as Shahids than graduate from universities and build careers for themselves as scientists, business people or artists; waste the lives you gave them on hatred and bloodshed rather than devote them to developing a new medicine, revealing an unknown physical law or inventing a breakthrough technology. Why do you give up the wealth they could bring to you and why do you give up the honor that could gain for the Arab world and for Islam?

Why do you give up the grandchildren your children could give you if they did not die in the endless war against us? What accounts for your obsessive need for Shuhada? Do you believe that it brings more respect for Islam than would a child of yours who received a Nobel Prize in economy, or literature?

Intelligent people know: Lying to your self is very easy but it is also very dangerous. It seems that you have chosen the easy way of lying to yourselves. Is "Israel" really the reason for which your children do not become Nobel laureates? Is the "occupation" the real reason for which they are not Olympic champions, world renowned musicians or brain researchers?

If you stopped lying to yourselves and if you dared facing the fundamental questions about your reality you would realize that you have been sacrificing generation after generation – all in vain. Israel's territory is not essential for your security and prosperity. If you diverted the enormous resources that you are investing in weaponry and warfare to infrastructure and to your children's education, you would enjoy much bigger GDP, much higher standard of living, better health services, serious academia, prosperous culture and art and what not?

Contrary to what your leaders tell you, we in Israel, are not interested in the "occupation". Not of the West Bank, neither of Gaza. We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, leaving the opportunity to shape up your future in your hands. If you had abandoned the path of war after we left Gaza you would not have experienced the siege. You would - like us – be benefitting from business, academic, cultural and even political cooperation with us. We could contribute quite a bit to one another. Instead, you've put yourselves on a track that only leads you from bad to worse while we are booming, progressing and are successfully defending ourselves. You made a mistake.
But it is not too late to fix it up: find the courage to challenge your leaders. Some of them sacrifice you for extreme fanaticism. Others keep you in darkness and ignorance because this way they can control you, perpetuate their power and serve their interests. Order them to abandon the unnecessary and futile war against us. You will never chase us away from this place because we have nowhere else to go. Your war against us has no justification and no prospect.
Instead of taking you to the "Home in Jaffa" at some messianic time, ask you leaders to give you economic prosperity, health, education and progress now.  Your children's chance for a valuable and meaningful life is not hidden in Jaffa - you could find it in Gaza and in Khan Yunis and in skyscrapers cities you could build for yourselves in the Gaza strip. Israel, and probably other nations, could help you do it.   

We come from the same forefather, Avraham – إبراهيم (I hope I got it right and I apologize if I have not), our languages are so close, we are two intelligent peoples, we could make good neighbors. We should help each other and benefit from one another. In no time we could turn this place from burning hell to a flourishing "Garden of Eden" and insure that our children become significant actors on the stage of the 21st century. There is no doubt that if we managed to keep this place functioning peacefully your national aspirations would, in time, find a satisfactory solution as well.

We, Israelis, are going along this path of progress anyway. You could too, but it necessitates that you change your list of priorities: that you look to the future and not to the past, that you seek progress rather than revenge and that you turn your main goal from destroying us to building yourselves.