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When an ex-Fatah Palestinian ‘neighbor’ took up a Zionist author’s challenge


Mohammed Dajani (left) and Yossi Klein Halevi

David Horovitz writes in The Times of Israel

A little over a year ago, I wrote a lengthy interview on these pages with the author and Shalom Hartman Institute fellow Yossi Klein Halevi. My longtime friend had just published an ambitious book, “Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor,” setting out the Zionist narrative in terms he hoped the Palestinians would understand, because, he said, while we’re rightly outraged when they attack our legitimacy here, we’ve simply never bothered to explain it to them before.

It was an ambitious book with a still more ambitious intended sequel, especially in these dark and hostile times. His hope, Klein Halevi said last year, was that our Palestinian neighbors would respond to his overture, and write back with their own counter-arguments — not to spark an intellectual battle to the death, but, rather, to facilitate a mutually empowering dialogue: each side would learn more about the other, creating an interaction between writers that, who knows, might one day help facilitate greater political awareness and the possibility of reconciliation.

Now, a year later, the paperback edition of “Letters” is being published and, lo and behold, it includes an epilogue — more than 50 pages of Palestinian responses to the original text. Thoughtful, proud, fierce, pained and gracious in turn, Klein Halevi’s Palestinian interlocutors accepted his challenge, most strikingly, with empathy. And none more so than a Palestinian academic named Mohammed Dajani Daoudi, whose name may ring a bell with some readers. For it was Dajani, five years ago, who led a group of 27 Palestinian students on an unprecedented visit to Auschwitz — with all manner of abiding, shattering consequences.

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