en francais - Affirmer le Dialog
I take it upon myself, an Arab Muslim woman, to defend my Jewish brother or sister, while directing the attention of my interlocutors not to the negative, but to that which is positive and common. And it is up to you to reinforce among your interlocutors, positive talk and action for love and peace regarding your Muslim Arab brothers and sisters, and not to direct our thoughts to the negative things that divide us.
The above, believe it or not, is part of an ongoing dialogue that was started in response to a vicious flame letter.
Not everyone believes in dialogue in the Middle East. MidEastWeb gets many "fan" letters of the sort that say "Pave the whole place over and turn it into a parking lot." "We know you are part of the Zionist conspiracy." "You are self hating Jews and Palestinian hoodlums." Everyone who works in dialogue learns to live with those remarks.
Recently, we received a letter from a reader in France that presented a clear challenge. The writer said that he had never heard of a Muslim willing to take a public stand for coexistence. He wrote:
"I adhere completely to your project and would wish to help you sincerely. Nevertheless I am afraid your organization is primarily of Jewish origin, because I never found even one Muslim who officially takes a stand for coexistence with the people of Israel.
We don't know where Mr. Skeptic (not his real name of course) has been looking. All those who participate in dialogue and work for peace in the Middle East understand that there is either coexistence or no existence.
As an Arab man in Jerusalem said, "All this killing for so long among
the three religions of Ibrahim! But I ask you: When you get to heaven, do you really think the Divine will take sides?"
From the article "A letter to Al-Qaeda, The West and Anyone Else Willing to be Honest about the Truth"
Below is Mr. Skeptic's letter (except for parts that were incoherent or not suitable for public viewing) and some replies (names as given, may be contacted through MidEastWeb). We will be happy to add your reply, whatever your religious conviction or ethnic group. We may not convince people like Mr. Skeptic in the end, but perhaps others will understand that the reality is not what the purveyors of hate on either side tell us. Here is proof that our path is the right one:
Note - MidEastWeb in no way agrees with the sentiments in this letter:
Mr Skeptic wrote:
"I adhere completely to your project and would wish to help you sincerely. Nevertheless I am afraid your organization is primarily of Jewish origin, because I never found even one Moslem who officially takes a stand for coexistence with the people of Israel.
..It is true that this country since General De Gaulle adheres to a one-sided political line fixed in favor of the most extreme positions of the refusal front. To summarize this humanistic thought...:
Withdrawal from the West Bank.
Withdrawal from East Jerusalem.
Return of the so called refugees.
Compensation for the war damages to the nice Palestinian people.
We will perhaps be left with Deauville and Juan-les-Pines.
[Don't] forget that it is the Arabs who refused the partition plan of 1948, that Jordan is an integral part of the State of Israel. That the Arab armies four times tried to crush the young State of Israel. In surprise and iniquitous wars (Yom Kippur).
Those are the same people who honor the ones who deliberately explode themselves in buses, restaurants and other places considered to be dangerous military targets.
Ah! also they have started to export their so nice Intifada; speak about that to the "Spaniards, the English, the Moroccans, the Tunisian, the French, the New Yorkers, the Swedes, the Indonesians, the Egyptians". Who have put in their pocket the money intended to help the Palestinians in the construction of a decent state, if not the friends of the big Arafat? So, peace is like Father Christmas - one can believe in it, that does not cost anything.
I BELIEVE THAT WHEN people WILL have enough of SEEing THEIR CHILDREN EXPLODing IN ALL THE
TOWN CENTERS A DRASTIC SOLUTION IS LIKELY TO BE APPLIED to a world so Beastly. And then perhaps that the
providence which must see all that is done in his very Holy Name would render
justice and will make it possible to know who twists things and who is right. I fear nevertheless that when this happens some shall be sorry if you see whom I am speaking of.
As a Jew I am proud of what the people of Israel carried out in 60 years. Were I an Arab, I believe that I would not have the same regard for the work completed by the Palestinians during the same period. Above all, don't tell me about the American assistance to Israel. The Arabs receive ten times more without considering the huge oil profits wasted without purpose Let us speak a little about Arab development Algeria means war and massive emigration.
Libya = the kingdom of the psychopath who brings down civil aircraft.
Egypt = the misery, the galloping demography.
Syria and Iraq better not to speak of them.
Iran = soon will have atomic weapons. Not a laughing matter, no?
Afghanistan = Good riddance to the Taliban, those who explode Buddhas and hang people in the middle of the goals of a soccer field.
Lebanon = going better, lucky some Christians are still there.
Yemen and Sudan are in a sorry state.
I can write about the coexistence, friendship and love among people, regardless of their religious
beliefs, for I have experienced it, felt it and lived it .
It pains me to see so much anger, frustration, and hatred when people point fingers and at the same time, speak about sincerely wanting to help. I wonder is it a cry for help, or is this finger only trying to degrade the work that one is doing, or fear from not understanding the 'other' or maybe anger at all the 'others' or does it come from an experience that one have had?
You see, what I hear Mr. Skeptic is saying, that he does not want to hear about coexistence, he is warning people not to believe that any Arab or any Muslim, [as Iran and Afghanistan are not Arabs, and I am sure Mr. Joseph is aware that all Muslims are not Arabs, or that all Arabs are Muslims, as the majority of Muslims are not Arabs anyway] wants to coexists, or maybe I am wrong and he does want reassurance that Arabs, whatever their religion is, do want to coexist..
There are positive as well as negative incidents, in history as well as in what is going on now, but what I prefer to do is to look at the glass and say it is half full, instead of half empty. try to find the good in people, rather than dig to find the dirt or ugly part that lurks sometimes inside them.
I can only write about the beautiful experience that I am still going through daily with people with different beliefs.
REPLY #2 (this was a reply to a second letter- part of an ongoing correspondence)
The topic of your letter is exactly what we must choose to work on. Let's be aware that if we continue to direct our attention to what divides us instead of on what unites us, all we are doing is reinforcing this division. Our attention to those thoughts that divide us is an impulse of intelligence that manifests itself and which sprouts like a plant that we water. We water out thoughts with this attention.
Therefore, because I feel that you truly aspire to peace between our peoples, I request you sir to direct your attention consciously to that which unites us, those humanitarian values of love and peace, and to combat the reflex of our thought to bind itself or to dwell on that that which is negative or divides us. For you, as for me, it is our responsibility, once we are conscious of the power of our thoughts, to direct them not to the negative, but to the positive. Better yet, to defend each other. I take it upon myself, an Arab Muslim woman, to defend my Jewish brother or sister, while directing the attention of my interlocutors not to the negative, but to that which is positive and common. And it is up to you to reinforce among your interlocutors, positive talk and action for love and peace regarding your Muslim Arab brothers and sisters, and not to direct our thoughts to the negative things that divide us.
To be conscious of our thoughts, and to control them and direct them while choosing concentrate on the positive ones, there is the real Djihad with oneself. For if we do not manage to control and choose our thoughts consciously, then any old breeze can bring us to places that will cause us us to lose EVERYTHING including our humanity. There is no absolute in the reading of any religious scripture; everyone perceives and understands according to their own reality and beliefs, preconceptions or partisanship. Instead of judging each other mutually to know who is right or wrong, let us develop empathy and learn to feel that which the other feels.
With this, Sir, May peace be upon you.
The dialogue resourceAffirming Dialog in the Middle East is posted at http://www.mideastweb.org/affirming_dialog.htm. You are welcome to forward the entire page, or to copy it to your Web site or forum, provided that you include this notice, which credits MidEastWeb for Coexistence http://www.mideastweb.org
Mideastweb Middle East
Map of Palestine Map of Israel Map of Iran Map of Syria Map of Afghanistan Jerusalem Detail Map Map of Egypt Dictionary Middle East Recipes Jerusalem/Quds to Jericho History of Israel & Palestine - Part I Israel & Palestinian History current since the Oslo accords Middle East Countries Detailed Iraq Map Map of Iraq Baghdad Map Iraq Iran Islam History History of Arabia Egypt History of Israel & Palestine - Part I Israel & Palestinian History current since the Oslo accords Israel-Palestine Timeline History of Zionism Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in a Nutshell Population of Ottoman Palestine Palestinian Parties and armed Groups Middle East Maps Hamas MidEastWeb Middle East Master Reference and External Sources