|Here is the updated version of Fr. Labib Kobti's open letter to Israelis and Friends of Israel. Please scroll down for the original letter posted in February 1996.|
May 2, 2014: An open Letter to the
Israelis and to the Friends of Israel
Please, see in the following words of respect, a call for truth, justice, and peace.
1- Arabs and Jews are blood brothers: they are both Semitic, they are both sons and daughters of the same Father Abraham.
The Arab people are not the enemies of the Jews. http://www.al-bushra.org/palestine/abdallah.htm
If we look at both ancient and recent history, we will find that the Arab People are not the ones who persecuted the Jews. History tells us that the Jews in the Arab world found themselves among friends, brothers, and sisters.
In fact, before the conception of the State of Israel, Arabs had no animosity toward the Jews. Please ask the good Jews who used to live in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon; many of them still live in these Arabic countries. (Please also read Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour).
When Jews in Europe were suffering during the inhumane Holocaust, Palestine–and not the USA, Europe or any country–received thousands and thousands of Jewish immigrants from Germany, Poland, USA, Russia, Ethiopia The USA, Europe, Russia, South America, and Australia refused to receive them. This is a fact.
Remember that before the existence of the State of Israel, Jews were living among Palestinians–Muslims and Christians and Jews–in peace. Jews were living in Haifa, Jafa, Lod, Ramleh, Jerusalem, Nazareth.... This is a fact that the Jewish historians mention proudly.
Arab Christians, indigenous in the land where Christianity began, have not had a voice in Western Christianity and have not been represented by Western Christianity. They had no part in the general historic persecution of Jews in Europe and particularly not in the Holocaust.
Arab Muslims and Arab Christians always welcomed Jews; more than one thousand years passed with no fighting between Arabs and Jews. Arabs never fought against Jews until the creation of an Israeli State threatened them. The Palestinian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Iraqi, Syrian and Jordanian peoples decided fight with you because you created Israel, refusing to live with the Arabs as brothers and sisters.
Arab Christians and Arab Muslims are Arabs, and it is their right to fight occupation so as to defend their Arab countries and entities. They fought against the French, the British, and the Italians in the past for the same reason.
In Europe, your Jewish people were those who pioneered innovations in various fields–science, technology, music, art, economics–and yet you were persecuted there; you were not persecuted in the Arab World. Those who are defending you today in Europe or in the USA are doing so out of guilt rather than out of love.
2- Are Arabs enemies of Jews?
They became enemies when Jews took Palestinian land and when they made from Palestinians dispersed refugees all over the world. When Jews from Europe and elsewhere appropriated not only Palestinian lands, but also the culture, history, and food of the Palestinian people. Jews and their Christian supporters misused the Bible to justify their claims.
Jews have said that they had the right to build settlements anywhere and everywhere in Palestine. Although Palestinians have belonged to that land for thousands and thousands of years as descendants of the Cananites, Jebusites and Philistins, Jews claimed the right to their lands in violation of international law.
Jews placed the majority of Palestine under Israeli control by annexation, often coercive and of questionable legality.
I call for nonviolent resistance. We observe that in modern times that people under occupation are lauded by the whole world for resisting occupation. Resistance is a right. Resistance is not terrorism.
3- Stories of resistance:
a) Do you remember the story of Samson in the Bible? His enemies tried by all means to kill in him. But they could not kill his soul, his spirit, his will to resist his enemies. He prevailed even in his final act of destruction that resulted in his death; this final act of resistance was disastrous for others.
b) Do you remember the history of the place called Masada in Israel? The Jews chose to resist, preferring death rather than surrendering to the Romans. Their courage has inspired you, their people, for the future. They won the war against the Roman occupation. By their bravery in dying, you multiplied as people. You use this same place, Masada, today, as a symbol of your valiant heroes, promoting it as a tourist site and taking your school children to visit it. In what way was Masada a victory? How did Masada win? The heroes of Masasda prevailed because Jews resisted; the Roman Empire with all its vast army could not kill the soul of the Jews nor their spirit nor their will to resist.
c) Do you remember the concentration camps the Nazis? By the unjust suffering and death of innocent people, the Jews eventually resisted and became stronger and unified. No Nazi could kill the spirit, the soul, and the will of the Jews. The Jews won the battle and are the victors in history. The world's sympathy is with the Jews. The world joins you in saying loudly and clearly, "Never again." Suffering and the death did not and could not and will never be able to kill the soul, the spirit, and the will of a people determined to live and survive.
Do you understand the great lessons of these stories for the present time?
Your own stories represent today an example for all nations worldwide.
Isn't it also the story of American Black people in USA under the leadership of Martin Luther King? Isn't it the story of apartheid in South Africa with Mandella? Isn't it the story many other peoples who fought for their rights, dignity, and identity to build their sovereign nations? Nobody can destroy the will, the soul, and the spirit of people to survive and one day prevail.
History will be repeated for Arabs–Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, and especially for Palestinians. They shall overcome one day in spite of what those who do not listen to history are doing to kill their soul, spirit, and will.
Since the beginning of the Jewish immigration, Jewish authorities have been saying that Palestinians do not exist, that Palestine has never existed, and there was no Palestinian identity. Then in Oslo, Madrid, and Washington, after more than fifty years, Palestinians were recognized as partners of peace, as a people with full rights, as a proud nation. They do exist. They do have the soul, the spirit, and the will to exist and thrive, and you will be unable to kill it.
Do you think that by having the USA at your side now that you will have it forever with you and that it is sufficient for you to prevail?
Do you think that by weapons and armies you will always be able to control those without the military strength?
Do you think that by killing, jailing for years without due process, and exiling Palestinians, you can kill their soul and their will and destroy forever their spirit and future as a people?
Friends, listen to what, with love and respect, I have to say to you:
The Palestinian people will multiply, just as you did over the course of time. History will speak about Palestinians and Arabs and will sympathize with the Palestinian Holocaust which even now some are referring to as the "Palohaust." War criminals will be brought to justice by International law one day or another.
Samson, who killed innocent children, women, and families and whom you regard him as a great Biblical hero, will return. Please, befriend him before it is too late, before a disaster like the one in the Bible occurs again. Already there are those who claim to be Samsons in offering themselves as suicide bombers. I do not agree with them.
Please, remember your stories. They could happen again, but this time with another people, in another era. We do not want any more killing.
The Palestinian people will live,
will survive and will come back just as you did.
History is with those who have a will, a determined spirit.
Time is not working for you and with you.
You cannot kill the will and spirit of a people, the will of a nation.
Nobody could kill yours, dear Jewish People; you came back, and you multiplied.
Please remember this, my friends.
Be friends to the Palestinians. Give them their lands and work for justice.
Treat them as human beings, so that all may enjoy peace and prosperity.
Samson will not stop growing his hair; he will come back to destroy himself and others with him. It will be tragic for everybody.
We do not need any more Samsons. We need Abraham, Father of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims, to unite his children for a better life.
5- An open letter:
There is a saying in Arabic: “When the soul of a whole nation yearns for survival, nature cannot but respond” (and it will respond).
Dear Israelis and friends of Israel:
How can Israel live and survive? Only justice and peace can help Israel to live and survive. Only if Israel and the USA worked for real justice and real peace in the Middle East region, will Israel be able to live and survive. In giving a blind eye to injustice, you are not helping Israel. History tells you that. And I am sure your conscience is telling you this truth.
Violence has no chance. The USA and Israel are nourishing violence and war, they are not helping Israel. The USA cannot then be a good friend to Israel. Veto power will not help. On the contrary, it is feeding the soul, the spirit, and the will of oppressed people with more violence. In working against justice in the Middle East, you are nourishing the souls and spirits of people with anger and violence. You are creating thousands and thousands of Samsons; you are creating a new Masada.
The best way is to help Israel is to act justly. US money for weapons will not help the future of a people who have already suffered.
Do you really believe that Jews have rights over Palestinians because of a promise made by God?
How could God, HaShem, Allah, the Creator of all prefer one people on another?
We should all then live before God under the same law.
There are no differences, no preferences.
Remember, please you cannot kill the soul and spirit of a people. Try to make from them your friends, not your enemies.
Arabs will be the neighbors of the Israelis forever. Americans are not the neighbors of Israel, nor are Europeans. Americans and Europeans will not stay friends of one only people forever. Time will tell you what will happen one day or another. Work for justice; do not make war. Please listen to the voice of your conscience and to the appeals of the history of nations.
Any kind of violence is a kind of war. And violence is not only killing one person but also depriving him or her of fundamental rights. Stop all kinds of violence. Cultivate love, cooperation, and sharing. Confiscating Palestinian lands, building settlements, demolishing the houses of Palestinians, jailing their youth, closing the roads to Jerusalem–these are all acts of violence.
Our Arab children and Jewish children are cousins, sons and daughters of the same Father Abraham; they deserve to live together in Peace.
6– Some Evangelicals and some Christian-Zionists claim in the name of the Bible that Jews have the right to Palestinian lands. Do not listen to them. They want you to go to Israel only for one reason: to become one day Christians. They claim that if you go to Israel, Biblican prophesy will be fulfilled, and the Messiah will come and you will become all Christians. What kind of hypocrisy is this “rapture” claim? It does not respect your religion; it does not respect your future; it does not respect your Jewish heritage.
Listen to the real Christians and real Muslims who try to respect you and tell you that Jews, Christians, and Muslims should have the same equal rights and responsibilities. Build a society of love and not of hatred and violence. You can never empty Palestine-Israel of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians; make from them your friends as you will be living with them forever.
Arab Muslims and Arab Christians do not deserve that you build hatred and violence. They did not persecute you in the past or make war with you before the existence of the State of Israel, and not wanting them to have their own state and capital is very wrong.
Arab Muslims and Arab Christians are not your real enemies. Do not listen to the lies of some people who are profiting economically and politically by creating enmity against Islam and Arab Christians.
Just your good judgment. You cannot empty Palestine of Arab Muslims and Arab Christians who want only to live a decent life and enjoy a real future of peace and justice. You cannot kill the soul, the spirit and the will of Samson. He will return one day; make from him your friend before he returns. If you don't, it will be too late for him and for you.
I will pray for you. May God, Allah, HaShem, the one Most Holy give you the wisdom to see clearly the needed comprehensive justice so as to find the way for peace, cooperation, and love.
With love and respect,
Fr. Labib Kobti,
An Arab-American Roman Catholic Priest in San Francisco
The Original Article was written on 1996. Re-edited by the author on May 2, 2014.
For more articles, please go to: Al-Bushra.orgPublished on: El-Intifad News
By Fr. Labib Kobti
Please, see on the following words of respect, a call for Justice, Peace and TRUTH:
1- We, Arab people, are not your enemies. http://www.al-bushra.org/palestine/abdallah.htm
If you look at both ancient and recent history you will find that we were not the ones who persecuted you.
Millions were killed in Europe, but millions are living here in our lands and within us and will live in the Middle East and with us.
We are not the ones who refused you or betrayed you. We welcomed you when you were in difficulties.
The history tells you that you found in us, with us, Arab people who received, welcomed and helped you, FRIENDS, Brothers and sisters.
READ THE HISTORY:
Before the promises to create or before the existence of the state of Israel, did we do anything against you?
Please, ask the good Jews who lived in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.
When you were suffering, UNFORTUNATELY because of the INHUMANE HOLOCAUST, Palestineand not USA, Europe or any country have received thousands and thousands of Jewish immigrants from Germany, Poland, USA, Russia, Ethopia ... The USA, Europe, Russia, South America, Australia ...refused to receive any of you even for HUMANITARIAN needs. This is a fact.
Before the war broke between Palestinians (Muslims and Christians) and Jews, you were living in a very peace in Haifa, Jafa, Lod, Ramleh, Jerusalem, Nazareth....This is also a fact that the Jewish historians mention with great honor.
Arab Muslims welcomed you always, they did not fight with you for at least the last 1000 years.
Arab Christians have never persecuted you or fought against you until recent years as part of the Palestinian, Lebanese, Egyptian, Syrian or Jordanian peoples. Arab Christians are Arabs and it its their right to fight so as to defend their Arab Countries. We fought against the French, the British, the Italians...We fought with our Arab Muslim blood brothers and sisters to defend our national rights and we will fight against any aggressor. Arab Christians have nothing to do with the Western Christianity who persecuted you.
In Europe, despite that your people were those who pioneers in different fields, scientific, inventions, music, art, economic, etc., you were persecuted in different periods. Those who are defending you today in Europe, or in USA (European descendants) they do it because they are feeling the guilt and not because they do love you.
2- We became your enemies, as Arabs, when you took our land, when you put us outside.
When you claimed that our lands, culture, history, food belongs to you.
When you said that we are primitive people, and when you said that our lands is "nomans land or an empty land, "Terra nullius".
When you said that you have the right to take our lands and build settlements everywhere anywhere. When you know that we belong to that land for thousands and thousands of years as people whose origin comes from the Cananites, Jebusites and Philistins.
When hundreds of thousands of our Palestinian people were evacuated, exiled, pushed , discriminated or escaped when you came to possess our lands. When you created the Palestinian REFUGEE PROBLEM.
When we tried, or our/ or your friends friends tried, to speak about the
Arab and Palestinian rights to live a dignified and human life in their lands
that you depossed them from in contravention of international law and
placed it under Israeli control by annexation, often coercive or of questionable
3- We Arab people, Semitic and sons of Abraham as much as you are, we are asking ourselves what did we do to you, on the recent history or on the past to be so despised by you, or what we did not do to you to be treated and deserve that you destroy our image all over the world, that deprive the future of our children and your children, our families and your families and our nations and your nation of comprehensive justice and peace.
4- Do you remember the Story of Samson in the Bible? His enemies tried by all means to kill in him everything. But they could not kill his SOUL, his SPIRIT, his WILL to return back, TO WIN, he even killed himself, but it was disastrous for others.
Do you remember the history of the brave place called Masada in Israel? The Jews preferred the death to surrender to the Romans, and by their BRAVE death they inspired their people for the future. They WON the war, and by that brave death, they multiplied. You use this place, till now, as a symbol of your wonderful heroes. In what way Masada was a victory? How Masada won? Because the Roman Empire with all its big army could not kill the SOUL of the Jews, their SPIRIT and their WILL to stay and come back one day.
Do you remember the Camps of Concentration of the Nazis? By the UNJUST and unjustified suffering and death of innocent people, the Jews eventually became stronger and unified. No Nazi could kill the Spirit, the SOUL and the WILL of the Jews. The Jews WON the battle and history. Till now the history speaks about HOLOCAUST and will speak and sympathize with you. The world will say with you: NEVER AGAIN. Do you know in what way the People in Auschwitz and other camps WON in the end? Because the suffering and the death did not and cannot and will never be able to kill the SOUL, the SPIRIT of people who were determined to live and survive.
Do you understand the GREAT LESSON of all these things, your history,
for the present -- for the determination of the Palestinian people under
oppression? That people will multiply and come back one day.
What do you think, Dear friends, Israelis, Jews and their friends?
Since the beginning of the Jewish immigration, the Jewish authorities were saying that Palestinians do not exist, Palestine have never existed, there were no Palestinian identity. Then in Oslo, Madrid and Washington, after more than fifty years, Palestinians were recognized partners of PEACE, people with full rights, a proud nation. They do exist, they do have a SOUL, a SPIRIT and a WILL to exist, and you will be unable to kill it.
Do you think that having the USA at your side now that you will have it
for ever with you and it is sufficient for you to prevail?
With great respect and love, listen to me Friends:
So, please, remember your history, it could repeat itself, but this time with another people...in an other time...and we do not want this...
The Palestinian people will live, will survive
and will come back as you did.
5- There is a say in Arabic: When the soul of a whole nation YEARNS
for survival, NATURE cannot but respond (and it Will respond)
Help Israel to live and survive?
Only peace and justice can help Israel to live and survive.
Only if Israel and USA work for real justice and real peace in the Middle
East region could help Israel to live and survive. In giving a blind eye
on the injustices you are not helping Israel, the history tells you that,
already I am sure your conscience is telling you that TRUTH.
6- Do you believe really that the Jews have the right over Palestine by the promise of God?
How could God, HaShem, Allah, the Creator of all prefer one people on
We should live all in front of God under the same law.
7-You cannot kill the soul and spirit of a people. Try to make from them your FRIENDS not your ENEMIES.
The Arabs will be the neighbors of the Israelis for ever, Americans are not the neighbors of Israel, Europe is not your neighbor, they will not stay for ever friends of one only people. Time will tell you that this is what will happen one day or another.
8-Make JUSTICE do not make war, please, listen to the voice of your conscience and to the appeals of the HISTORY of nations. Any kind of violence is a kind of war.
And violence is not only killing one person but also depriving him of his fundamental rights. Stop all kinds of violence. Cultivate a culture of love, cooperation and sharing. Confiscating Palestinian lands, building settlements, demolishing their houses, jailing their youth...closing the roads to Jerusalem is VIOLENCE.
Please, just stop this and go back to the Bible and read, please Leviticus chapter 25 and ss.
9- Our Arab children and the Jews children are cousins, sons of the same Father, Abraham, they deserve to live in Peace.
Work for JUSTICE then, all what you are called to cultivate and work for is justice for all and for every single component of the society of the Middle East, Arabs and Israelis (Palestinians and Israelis in the Holy Land) Jews, Christians and Muslims, those five components should have the same rights duties and responsibilities, justice, security and equality for all.
And you will see a real future for you, for us, and the for the whole World. Work for JUSTICE before the history condemns you for ever.
Stop violence and cultivate a culture of love and equality of rights and duties for everybody. Nobody is better than anybody, we are all EQUALS.
10-Do not listen to the Chistian-Zionists who pretend in the name of the Bible that you have right on the Palestinian lands. Do not listen to them, they want you to go to Israel for only one reason to become one day Christians, they pretend that if you go to Israel the prophesies will be accomplished, and the Messiah will come and you will become all Christians. What kind of hypocrisy is that!
It is not even a respect to your religion, it is not even a respect to your future, it is not even a respect to your past as Jews.
Listen to the REAL Christians and Real Muslims that try to respect you and tell you that those things do not exist in the Bible and beg you to consider them your EQUALS.
Israel and Palestine should be two STATES with JERUSALEM as Capital.
The five components of the Holy Land society: Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims should have the same and equal rights and responsibilities.
Build a society of love and not of hatred and violence. You can never empty Palestine-Israel from Arab Muslims and Arab Christians, make from them your friends, you will be living for ever with them.
They do not deserve that you build hatred and violence. They did not persecute you in the past or made war with you before the existence of the State of Israel, and your claims that you do not want them to have their own State and Capital. Arab Muslims and Arab Christians are not your real enemies...do not listen to the lies of some people who are profiting economically and politically by saying that and creating a COLD WAR AGAINST ISLAM.
Just use your judgments. You cannot empty Palestine from Arab Muslims and Arab Christians who want to live a decent life and real future of peace and justice. YOU CANNOT KILL THE SOUL, THE SPIRIT AND THE WILL OF SAMSON. He will return one day...make from him your friends before he returns, it will be too late for him and for you then...
I will pray for you. May God, Allah, HaShem, the one Most Holy give you the wisdom to see clear the needed COMPREHENSIVE justice so as to find the way for peace and cooperation, and love.
With love and respect,
Fr. Labib Kobti,
Published on: El-Intifad News