The following letter to the Palestinian people shall never be sent. After at least three rewritings and endless discussions among my colleagues, it has been concluded that it would never have the effect we had hoped. Its message would be misused and distorted by the traumatized Palestinian people whose hearts it was meant to open. And the backlash it would cause in my Jewish community among those who have come back to settle the hills of Judea after our 2000 year exile, would be fierce and unforgiving. Traumatized as we are by our own terrible pain and loss, instinctively and derisively we lash out at anyone who expresses empathy for the pain of the other. My community would accuse me of lack of empathy for our own, of desecrating the memory of our dead. Letters are not the way. Only direct human contact can begin to heal the wounds.
He was tense and almost trembling as he told us about being attacked by a stone-yielding mob of 30 angry young men. Only by a miracle did none of the rocks smash through the windshield of the car. And then shots were fired. A bullet whizzed by his ear and lodged in the doorframe of the car. Deeply shaken but unharmed, he sped up and drove just a hundred meters ahead to an army checkpoint. He and his passenger told the soldiers of their harrowing ordeal. The soldiers ignored their plight, announced that the road forward was closed and that they must go back the way they came. They refused; the mob will kill them. The soldiers stood their ground and the two men pleaded for their lives.
Nine months ago I opened the front door of my apartment in Alon Shvut and took a 20-minute walk that began to change my life. My wife asked me to reconsider—it might be dangerous, she said—but I went anyway. My heart beat just a little bit faster than usual as I walked through the Arab fields and vineyards that surround my home in the Judean Hills.