The following is an excerpt from Fragments of Fragments, a series of short publications that speak more directly to the Oct. 7 Israel-Hamas war.

by Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet

From personal observations in the class
while acknowledging the small size of the sample
and the lack of a control groupI would nevertheless postulate
that it is just as easy
and, indeed, just as difficult,
for Israeli Jews to learn Arabicas it is for Arabs to learn Hebrew.

In the interests of maintaining a balanced view
I will repeat my conclusion
in the reverse order, namely
that it is just as difficult
and, indeed, just as easy
for Arabs to learn Hebrew
as it is for Israeli Jews to learn Arabic.

While it could be presumptuous
not to say unscientific
to extrapolate too much from these results
it might be legitimate to assume
that given similar social, educational and cultural backgrounds
the two groups would display other common features
to a statistically significant degree.
In view of the unacceptability of these findings
to all parties
this report will remain classified pending further….

(Tel Aviv 19.11.90)

RABBI PROFESSOR JONATHAN MAGONET (he/him), former Principal of Leo Baeck College (1985-2005), is Emeritus Professor of Bible, author of How did Moses know he was a Hebrew? Reading Bible stories from within (2021). He is editor of Seder Ha-t’fillot, Forms of Prayer(8th Edition) of the UK Movement for Reform Judaism, and of the journal European Judaism. His interfaith work is reflected in his book Talking to the Other.