My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book consists a series of letters between two ordinary, yet remarkable, women. One is Israeli, the other is Palestinian. They met in Geneva and agreed to correspond.
In their homelands, they are brought up to regard the others as hostile aliens; as enemies who wish to kill them.
Over the course of a year, they discover that there are many similarities between their societies and very few differences. In fact, the histories of Judaism and Islam have much more in common than either have with Christianity, although both have much in common with that faith too.
As I, and many others, have often said, there is only one race: the human race.
I refer to a post on my own blog regarding prejudice. Please read it if you have time.
If more people in Palestine and Israel, and around the world, could follow the path of discovery of these two ladies, we would have more peace and tolerance in this world. Shireen reveals to Daniela that children in Palestine grow up to adopt a hobby of throwing stones at the occupying Israeli soldiers. One can understand why, but children from both societies could so easily be brought up differently and be friends from an early age. I have always believed that one of the biggest keys to world peace is to ban faith schools in every country and only allow integrated schooling from an early age. That way, all children will develop with an understanding that all other children are just the same as them: some good, some bad, but just humans.
There are so many passages of this book that I would like to quote that I would run into the danger of reciting the whole book. Here are just a few of my favourites to whet your appetite. I won’t tell you whether they flow from the pen of Shireen or Daniela. I’ll let you decide and you should read the book to find out more.
I reach the conclusion that all we need is better communication. We have to find a solution, because so few people realise how much this could change their daily lives.
He [Israeli-Arab journalist] describes the difficulties which this boy went through and the dilemmas he faced as an Arab in Israeli society, But you know what? If this little boy is him, then in the end it all paid off, because he is successful now – and this proves what I have always believed: if you want to succeed, you have to work hard, even if the odds are against you.
Maybe it’s a cliché, and perhaps it’s obvious, but if both sides could educate their children to respect each other and to grow up as good neighbours, then there is a chance that those children who fear each other today could be good friends in the future.
[Do you see what I mean about integrated schooling?]
My little boy, Saif, has started talking, and is now making all sorts of demands. It’s really funny – I thin he started talking just so he could make all these demands! And my daughter Ghazal has started dressing herself up. She wants to wear jewellery – necklaces, earrings . . . and she is only six years old! God knows what will happen in a few years. Now I understand why my mother wanted to know each and every detail about my day when I was growing up.
I am sure that there are many beautiful aspects to all religions, and it is just sad that people tarnish religion by committing horrendous acts in the name of it – acts that no God would approve of.
There are many people here who are completely blind to the way things look from your point-of-view, and to what your people are going through. I am sure this is also true for some of the people on your side. But suddenly it has become clear to me that so many of our problems are the results of miscommunication and misunderstandings. Maybe it is naivety (as some of my people would surely say, or perhaps it is incredible injustice (as some of yours may claim), but I truly think that if only there was a way to walk in each other’s shoes for a little while – to have a glimpse of how the world looks through other people’s eyes, even for one day – many of these problems could be resolved. For example, the issue you raised in your last letter of people coming to Israel from all over the world.
I am grateful to my father for gifting me this book. He knows both of the authors personally.
Having read it, I have gifted it on to a most delightful and impressive teenage girl [Kallia] in the local supermarket in Kefalos where I am currently on vacation. She is the daughter of the owners. She studies hard and works in the shop in the evenings. She will be successful and will achieve her dreams through her own belief and her hard work. I have visions of her going on to become an international peace ambassador. Whatever path she chooses, I hope that reading this book will inspire her and help her to achieve those dreams.