The time for the dream of peace to become a reality
I want to tell you about a dream I had in the early hours of the morning of Sunday 5 June. Somehow, I was outside a building – a building, not unlike Independence Hall on Rothschild Blvd in Tel Aviv, where David Ben Gurion declared the establishment of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948 – 5 Iyyar 5727. I was not alone. There were thousands of people singing and shouting and dancing – and crying tears of joy. And I was crying, too. Suddenly, I realised that Jess, my partner, who had been standing beside me, was no longer there. Noticing me look round, a friend said: ‘she’s run inside ‘. Before I knew it, I was running inside, too. The hall was packed. There was a long table at one end and rows of chairs. But no one was sitting – everyone was standing and talking and laughing and hugging one another. Eventually, I saw Jess – and we hugged, and then I saw one friend, and then another – each time, a huge hug, while we jumped for joy – and more tears. What was going on? A few minutes earlier, the person who had been standing at the microphone in the middle of the long table, had declared the independent State of Palestine.
I can’t tell you, the date. Of course, it hasn’t happened yet. A naive fantasy? Maybe. The point is, it was a dream – one of the most vivid dreams I’ve ever had. For years, I have nurtured the hope that one-day, there would be a sovereign, democratic State of Palestine, alongside the sovereign, democratic State of Israel – that’s why I wear a badge on my lapel, displaying the flag of Israel alongside the flag of Palestine, and the words, Justice, Peace, Life. But here I was, actually dreaming the moment. I can still recall the feeling of ecstatic joy – the same feeling that I have often imagined I would have felt had I been there in Independence Hall on 14 May 1948.
It was only when I woke up that I realised the significance of the date: 5 June, the anniversary of the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967. I remember that time so well. I was 12 years old. I recall anxiously watching the television in the home of Israeli friends of my parents, Ofra and Henry. I remember my parents and my older brother going to Alyth Gardens synagogue to give blood. I remember standing on a chair in the classroom at school at break time and declaiming to my classmates about the valiant Israelis – until our form mistress insisted that I ‘get down immediately!’
So much has happened since 1967 – a litany of dates and moments, of violence and destruction, of fear and loss, of defiance and anguish, of new hope and hope destroyed – on both sides of the conflict. And now: the possibility of a new beginning… A new initiative was launched in the Jewish community recently to promote support for a two state solution: Yachad – the campaign ‘for Israel and for Peace’. You may have met the director of Yachad at Limmud – an inspiring young woman called, Hannah Weisfeld. Two sovereign states: the only outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will also ensure a safe, secure future for both peoples. I guess I dreamt that dream, because, like all those members of our Jewish community, who have already got behind Yachad, for me, the time has come for all of us to do what we can to make our hopes for peace become a reality.