The Book of Letters from and to Jerusalem, written by the Jerusalem authors Jamil al-Salhout and Sabah Bashir, published by the Haifa Library of Everything, June 2022. The book, the first cover of which is a painting by the plastic artist Muhammad Nasrallah wear, is manufactured. and directed by Charbel Elias, is 182 pages of medium size.
The first message is sent by author Jamil al-Salhout on 4/11/2010, after meeting Sabah for the first time at the Jerusalem Day symposium. As for the last post, author Sabah Bashir ends it on 31/12/2021.
If we consider the date of the beginning and end of the letters, we find that it lasted eleven years, during which the two authors discussed many topics that bothered the authors: Educational, economic, moral, aesthetic, etc.
During the presentation of these issues, each author discusses brilliant aspects of his life: books and books, travel and wander the world, describes places and their impact on the soul, and enriches each author’s intellectual, literary and cultural experience.
Through these letters, we learned a lot about these two writers: their opinions, their intellectual and literary visions, their hopes and dreams. Let’s start with the author Jamil Al-Salhout. Through his letters, his philosophical, intellectual, and ideological visions became clear to us, and we found him an enlightening person, who believed in science, logic, and reason, who fought ignorance, backwardness, and the culture of folly as he did. in his book called “The Culture of Foolishness and the Sanctification of Ignorance” of believing in charlatans and wizards, killing women for what is called family honor, insulting women He beat her and did not allow her to choose her partner not (p. 83) .Then he touched on the miserable situation of education and the lack of interest of the majority of parents of students to raise and follow up their children, especially in the stages of childhood and adolescence. He suffered from a hard childhood and his family’s lack of interest in him, then he was arrested in 1969 and subjected to severe torture, which led to a herniated disc in the neck and in the lower spine with stomach ulcers in the stomach and colon. Nevertheless, he did not lose his dream and determination to complete his university education, so he joined the Beirut Arab University as an affiliate and studied the Arabic language (p. 85). He continued his literary career; To write about the shortcomings of his society, try to shed light on it, express his opinion on it and try to give advice to young people to get rid of these plagues.
The author Jamil al-Salhout also talks about Jerusalem and the attempts to Judaize it and the Judaization of the Sheikh Jarrah area and its siege and isolation from the rest of Palestine. The Palestinians thus lost their source of livelihood as they worked on cultivating the land and raising livestock (p. 102).
The travels have an important space in this book because the author Jamil al-Salhout talks about his many travels to America, where a number of his brothers and son Qais live, and we learned about beautiful tourist spots in America, including the Niagara Falls. , by what he described in his letter to the author Sabah. He also refers to his writing of the book “I Was There” published in 2012, in which he talks about what he saw in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and America. He is also exposed to the lives of the American people, who are not interested in politics but still respect their government.
What is remarkable about this book is what al-Salhout described the Jews as Arab Jews who lived with dignity and respect in the Islamic State: “Until the Zionist movement appeared, it deceived them and separated them from their Arabism, and it confirms that the conflict in Palestine in particular and in the Middle East in general is not a religious conflict What is the conflict with the Zionist movement as a colonial movement, which chose to overthrow the people of the region antagonize and replace the Palestinian people with Jewish immigrants after seizing their land? (p. 150).
Among the phenomena of perpetuation of ignorance is the breakdown of the educational institution, such as a law that prevents the punishment of school children, and that is a good thing in Al-Salhout’s opinion. And physically. The attack also included the university campus, students were killed for trivial reasons, and hospitals were not spared from the attack. Here the author asks an important question: Are we living in a phase of social loss that is accompanied by a phase of political loss? (pp. 158-159).
Al-Salhout believes that all this, in addition to the spread of the phenomenon of arms carrying, drug trafficking and the murder of women under the so-called “family honor”, indicates that we are experiencing a social imbalance. and modern sciences (pp. 159-160).
Author Sabah responds in successive letters to Salhout’s letters, introducing him to much of her biography, beginning with her birth in Jerusalem, her childhood, and her father’s encouragement to read, to her education, marriage, and work. in the press and media in a feminist magazine concerned with women’s affairs, then she moved to live in the United Arab Emirates, settled in Abu Dhabi and some Gulf countries. She repeatedly traveled to Jordan and Turkey, then moved to live and settle in London, and visited a few European countries, then moved to Tunisia and visited the Maghreb countries, and currently lives in Haifa (p. 98) .
This frequent movement and instability in one place cast a shadow and weight on the author Sabah. She described her relationship with places: “The instability in one place made me lose many of my possessions and goods, especially books. Once you rearrange your life to live in a place and relate to it, then you find yourself compelled to leave it ”(p. 96). Nevertheless, Sabah benefited from this experience, saying: “I learned a lot in the spaces of cities, because the places I went through were many, and all of them contributed to the formation of my personality, but the homeland, the seat of my first education and the nursery of my youth, is the one that dwells in me. ” (p. 98).
In her letters to Salhout, the author Sabah discusses various social, cultural, educational, and educational issues that bother her, for example: sticking to some outdated habits that hinder our progress, and the educational curricula have not yet been able to provide that in line with the needs of the reality, as they are not building a critical leadership personality.Thinking and influential. Education in our country is an indoctrination process that is not in line with the growth and development that is taking place in the thinking of young people, as well as the role of neglected cultural and media institutions and universities that are absent or absent from scientific research and encourage young people. leaders ”(p. 107). Corona has doubled the gap between the students themselves and between them and the teachers, and she believes that teachers are not prepared with modern teaching methods that are in line with the times, especially in the Corona period and distance education.
The author Sabah is also exposed to the role of the Arab press, as she sees that culture lives in a state of alienation, as its presence is faint in newspapers and websites of a news nature that does not set cultural goals, and that the representation of women in the media is still negative, as they are portrayed as a commodity or a means of attraction for marketing and are ignored Her culture and ambitions or her work and her creativity (p. 114).
The author Sabah criticizes Oriental thinking and compares it to Western thinking, which respects man as a free, independent individual who possesses all the energies and creative intellectual abilities, as opposed to the Oriental culture which has the dependence and responsibility of the individual towards the group emphasizes. and coercion to implement the policy of the herd without paying attention to his education and training, and to give him the values of citizenship and belonging. pp. 69-70).
Haifa and Jerusalem have a special place in the heart of the author Sabah, so each city gets a beautiful poetic text that describes the beauty of the city.In the heart of the water, its waste, its impact and its impact on everything . It ignites nostalgia and a lot of feelings in me because it sends me intimacy and sadness, and a lot of hidden memories. Then I remember my mother’s saying: “Put your wishes at sunset so that one day they can get up” (p. 147).
In another beautiful poetic description of Haifa, Sabah Bashir writes the following: “And for the sake of the sanctity of the place, and after the waves subside, the eye of the sun sets. No one but me sees them, universe of roses and blossoms. ” (p. 148).
She describes Jerusalem and says, “Every time I visit it, I discover that I still live there, and I did not leave. That which dwells in the heart of history calms my soul and remains like a child living in his mother’s womb is asleep. ” (p. 153)
The two writers share a love of reading and writing. The author Jamil al-Salhout says in this regard that when he was a child, he walked to a library in Jerusalem to buy a book, and this passion for reading and writing has accompanied him to this day (p. 23).
Author Sabah expresses her great love for writing as it is her first dream, and she started writing a novel and a collection of short stories for children. For her, writing is: “The balcony of the soul that is open to heaven and visiting visions in its ascension past hearing and sight, where the hidden worlds are surrounded by knowledge hidden behind the veils of clouds, the sorrow of the heart and the secret . of joy ”(p. 80). She points out the importance of love in general in our lives: love for the fatherland, love of a mother for her children, love for friends and family, love for yourself, as love, as she says, the smell and taste of life is (p. 78).
We note in this brief overview of what was mentioned in the messages exchanged between the two writers, that they were exposed to their intellectual, cultural, social, political and humanitarian visions, in addition to naming important stations in the lives of each of them: his work, his activities, his publications, his lectures, his travels and his movements in this world, and so on.
From here, I tend to believe that these letters are a new artistic color of the biography, as the biography known to us was characterized by the author’s autobiography of himself in the tongue of the speaker or the absent, but here we find a new color, which is the art of writing biography through letters.
Congratulations to the writers Jamil Al-Salhout and Sabah Bashir for this beautiful creation and the important documentation of their lives and their society, in a beautiful sound language and interesting narrative.