Dialog With Dan Bar-On


Prof. Dan Bar-On responded to an excited argument on the IPPEN network, and this triggered our dialogue.

That one took place as follows.

-----------    Message no. 1    -------------

From: Bar-On Dan <danbaron@bgumail.bgu.ac.il>

To: <amayreh@p-ol.com>

Cc: <ippen@mscc.huji.ac.il>

Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2001 8:12 AM

Subject: Re: ippen Fresh reply from Khalid


Dear Friends,
I listen to your hammering voices and send you my own alegory for some thought.
I hope it will introduce some new openness?
Dan Bar-On


Attached allegory:

We as Mice and the Flowers Around Us  


-----------    Message no. 2    -------------

From: Asher Shla'in

To: Dan Bar-On

Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 2:23 AM

Subject: Fw: Palestrael Papers


Dear Dan.

I read your allegory an it did give me some new insights, though not with all your analysis I see eye to eye.

I wrote a story which points to a different possibility - fantastic as it might seem.

I enclose here Word files which include both the Hebrew and the English versions of my story and the accompanying letter.

You will see that this is a story, not a research.

I would like to spread it as much as possible. I am very much interested in Arabs (or, if you like, Palestinians) reading it and giving any response.
By the way, I am ready to send my work by regular mail too, in one or both languages - at least until it is out of stock.

Lately I wrote a continuing story, ending (as yet) in winter 2001.   as for now it is in the phase of draft and only in Hebrew.   I can mail it to you if you are interested.

-----------    Message no. 3    -------------

From: Bar-On Dan

To: Asher Shla'in

Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 7:28 AM

Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers


Dear Asher,
I will read it and tell you my reactions.
Thank you,

-----------    Message no. 4    -------------

From: Bar-On Dan
To: Asher Shla'in
Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 7:43 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers

Dear Asher,
I read your story and I remember reading it already once before. It is for me an example how we build ourself a fantasy world so that we will not have to change, only they will have to. How would you respond if Achmed Abed (a fictitious name) would come out tomorrow with an equivalent story from the Arab-Muslim side, concerning a Jewish new movement that suddenly recalls the old good days with the Muslims in Spain and wants to throw out all the Ashkenazim who caused all the Balagan in this region and become Muslims and integrate in the Middle East without all these extreme symbols. How would you feel?
All the best and have a good day (I hope you can go to work as you have no Keter and no seger...),

-----------    Message no. 5    -------------

From: Asher Shla'in

To: Bar-On Dan

Sent: Tuesday, March 13, 2001 1:34 PM

Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers


Dan dear.

It took you some 15 minutes to read my story (though in a second time) and it was sufficient to produce very good questions.  I think your questions are worthy of my effort to answer them, and I think also of your effort to read my answer.

The questions are two: (1) "How would you respond...?"  (2) "how would you feel?" Both are hypothetical with no actual document. I think the details have great influence on the reaction. Yet I shall do my best to answer each of them. It is my personal reaction which obliges nobody else.

How would I respond? For sure I would consider it an important story because it is written by Achmed Abed (and not, for instance by Dan Bar-On). I would read it thoroughly and try to listen to the reactions that rise in my mind.  I would be conscious to what arouses my resistance and why so.
I would also try to hear Achmed's voice behind the story and discern his feelings and motives. I would also try to learn something from the story in terms of new insights and of the  results it can achieve. I think that if I am not afraid to do so (and fortunately as an Israeli Jew I am safe) I would try to connect with Achmed Abed and give him a piece of my mind. (at this point I can say that few Arabs more or less did what I have just described).
It so happens that I am from an ashkenazi origin (which is not fully true about my children), and would not like to be thrown out, but I am sure that the typical oriental Jew could explain to Achmed that his bond with the rest of Jewry cannot be undone. One could also explain to Achmed that any scheme to throw people out is not feasible. I would suggest to Ahmed to read my story attentively and give me his honest detailed response.
If both of us regard each other as sincere and caring (and if Achmed is not too frightened of his "side") we could engage in a precious dialogue.

How would I feel? That is more difficult to assess. The tone of the story can influence my feeling more than the plot. I could be angry at the man's disregard of my human and national rights,  I could feel manipulated by someone who does nothing more than serving the anti Israeli propaganda, but I could also feel sympathy toward a naive person that believes he has the key to solving such a complicated situation.  I think that I would not feel offended, especially if I would believe that the story was written out of love.

Now Dan, after doing my best to answer your questions, I want to react briefly to your other remarks.
My story involves a great revolution in the Jewish and Zionist perception, so I can't agree that this fantasy is built "so that we will not have to change, only they will have to."
Did you miss it because of the swift "efficient" reading or because you resist a way that endangers the sacred "separation?".
I can go to work without obstacle, but nowadays I wish my dear ones to avoid markets an other crowded places.
My offer to supply the continuing story is in effect.
I can also supply a file of an e-mail dialogue that I had conducted with Khalid Amayreh. That document is a sample of my activity in the actual reality and its very limited results.

In any case I thank you for the opportunity to think these thoughts and write this message



-----------    Message no. 6    -------------


From: Bar-On Dan
To: Asher Shla'in
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 9:21 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers

Hi Asher,
I will leave out your comments about my "efficient" reading. Though you have reacted to my proposal on some distant level, you did not try to reflect on how these two stories stand one near the other (which was the purpose of my proposal in the first place, in case your reading did not get that sense).
I guess we come from very different personal perspectives into this domain. I feel that your fantasy is aggressive toward the "Other" but I hear you that you do not sense this aggressiveness but see it as "benevolence".
I wish you all the best and hope for the better for all of us (Yishmeelim or Yitzhakim).



-----------    Message no. 7    -------------

 From: Asher Shla'in

To: Bar-On Dan

Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 11:54 AM

Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers


In light of the tone in your former message I was not sure at all that you will grant me the benefit of a reply.  I am thankful that you did.

I can understand that for some people, coming "from very different personal perspectives into this domain" is a good reason to minimize the dialogue, and I truly respect that. I am different.  For me, the perspective is also an important issue for discourse.  I did learn to reconcile myself with the fact that most people do not share my taste for communication.
I have my signs that you would prefer not to get too involved with what I try to open - and this is not something to complain about.

So, even if you prefer to end it here, I shall just respond briefly to your recent comments.

I did reflect to myself on how these two stories stand one near the other.   My answer was not meant on a distant level, but a sincere effort to simulate reaction to a non-existing document.   If a Palestinian would write a story in a similar tone, something that could be put near mine - that would be a treasure! The contents would be of a lesser importance.

You sort of simulate the reaction of the proverbial "other", but then you may be biased by your political perspective; is it not threatened by the concept upheld in the story?
My aim in spreading the story was just to check what people feel. It is clear now what is your attitude.  I cannot rely on your response as for the feelings of a Palestinian.  Some of them did react in an utterly different way, maybe because they did not find in it aggressiveness disguised as benevolence, but rather self-criticism, equality, respect and love.

It was a privilege to converse with you.


-----------    Message no. 8    -------------

From: Bar-On Dan
To: Asher Shla'in
Sent: Wednesday, March 14, 2001 1:15 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Palestrael Papers

Dear Asher,
Good to know different approaches, as you say, even if they do not meet on some deeper level. I do not think you can learn much about my political approach, rather about my ethical or psychological ones. But this can be a separate conversation.
I wish you success,

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