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Dreamspace in Jerusalem

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The other day I was speaking to an old friend of mine I met in Israel 25 years ago.  We both lived in Jerusalem in the early 1990s and attended graduate school at Hebrew University.  Both lifelong Zionists at the time, we shared a love for Israel that, sadly, was an extension of our fear of Palestinians.  We were naive liberal Zionists treating Jerusalem like our twenty-something Gen X playground.  Often, we would sit at the Botanic Gardens on Mt. Scopus during breaks in between classes–a large flat rock became “our spot”–and we’d look down at the bustle of the city, marvel at the outline of the wall around the Old City, and we’d picture what it might have looked like thousands of years ago.  Like children, we’d use our fingers and pretend we were holding little trucks and tanks, and we’d move them around the city that seemed so little in between our hands, making little explosion noises as we crashed our imaginary tanks into each other.  As Zionists, of course, our discussions of what might have occurred there thousands of years ago and what occurs today would always, unbeknownst to us at the time, leave out everything that had happened in between–the occupation of Palestine.

We came to our spot to gain a perspective of the city–really, our place in it–and to sit physically above it and watch the buses wind around the streets and other hills below us; we were detached from the noise and dirt.  We felt this way often on Mt. Scopus–attending graduate school on a hill–and we developed what I’d later recognize as a false sense of perspective because we were physically higher than others.  Without making the connection, we had replicated what soldiers do–physically placing ourselves above the city–a timeless strategy used in military operations and in the strategic building of settlements in occupied Palestine.

Our sense of detached bravado did, however, leak into our dreams.  As dreams will, ours reflected our unconscious fears about living as students in a foreign land, unaware of the historical context around us.  As we reconnected on the phone, a long phone call catching up on events in our lives of the past few months, Danny reminded me of the dreams we both used to have when we lived in Jerusalem.  “Remember our ‘Hamas’ dreams?” he said on the phone.  “We’d be walking in the Jewish Quarter in the Old City, and in the dream Hamas would chase us down the narrow streets and they’d catch us and kidnap us?”  I had not thought of those dreams in a long time.  The first time we both talked about having that same dream was after a bombing in a Jerusalem restaurant on Yoel Solomon Street which was next door to a cafe where we had been having dinner.  First we heard the loud explosion, then screams, and then we saw people running down Yoel Solomon Street.  We left the cafe in a hurry and jumped into a taxi, smelling something burning and sour that must have been human flesh.  The next day we met at our spot on the rock and we tried to find Yoel Solomon Street and the restaurant from where we were on the hill, as though locating it from a distance would help remove some of the trauma we had experienced the night before.

Danny continued, “And we’d be so scared that they’d find us in our apartments at night and they’d take us.”

“Those were our ‘Zionist Holocaust trauma’ dreams,” I said.  I explained to him that as a child I had similar “Anne Frank in the attic” dreams, and these “Hamas” dreams were just another version–a kind of post-Holocaust, post-1948 dream.  And we laughed and reminisced about how young and stupid we were when we lived in Jerusalem.

I haven’t explained to Danny yet how my dreams have changed.  This shift began years after I became an anti-Zionist.  I was staying in the Deheishe refugee camp just south of Bethlehem with a Palestinian family who had been living in the camp since its establishment in 1949–not uncommon for people who live in Deheishe.  After a lovely dinner and conversation, my hosts went to bed.  I was staying in an added-on, square-shaped room on the roof of their home–one of the only ways for Palestinians who live in Deheishe to add needed space–when I started to remember the “Hamas” and “Anne Frank in the attic” dreams.  I must have fallen asleep thinking of these, because I awoke from another–what I now call the “anti-Zionist post-Holocaust” dream.  In this one, I am still a Jew frightened about being rounded up and taken.  But this time I am a Jew worried that it’s the Israeli soldiers barging in and taking me.  I awoke from the dream, confused at first about where I was, and then, minutes later, sickened at the newly-discovered privileged empathy for my hosts: to finally feel what they had been living as part of their day-to-day lives.  What privilege that the real conditions of their lives came to me in a dream, and that I would leave Deheishe after a three-day visit.  I got up that morning in the camp, ate a delicious meal of pita and hummus, baba ganouj, tahini, and other salads.  I didn’t mention the dream.

Danny is still a Zionist, and he knows that I am an anti-Zionist.  We’ve been able to talk about this shift I’ve had because we are old friends who love each other.  But my friendship with Danny isn’t the norm.  I’ve lost numerous friends and family members since becoming an anti-Zionist.  I am not writing this to claim victim space; I only mention this loss because it speaks to something that other Zionists-turned-anti-Zionists I know have gone through.  But transitioning away from Zionism is a necessary paradigm shift that one has to make in order to work towards any real justice for Israel and Palestine.  As my dreams changed, my modes of activism changed.  When systemic issues intrude into such personal spaces like dreams, we must face our internal conflict if we hope to make any kind of changes in the external conflicts of history.

Shortly before we both left Jerusalem with our Master’s degrees in our hands, Hebrew University blocked off the entrance to the Botanic Gardens to rebuild some of the gardens.  Unable any longer to sit on our rock and gain the perspective we thought we needed (and could only get on top of the hill), we made our way down to the city, the dust and dirt from the buses and roads hitting us in our faces as we walked towards the bus stop.

Liz
About Liz Rose

Liz Rose is a Chicago teacher.

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33 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    pabelmont on September 15, 2015, 11:18 am

    Israel and Zionism have created several forms of “exile”. Best known is the exile of non-Jewish Palestinians in 1947-1950 and 1967. These exiles are the often so-called “refugees”.

    Here, Liz Rose tells us about her loss of communion with friends and family-members — another form of exile attendant upon her announcement of anti-Zionism.

    We know of various scholars (among them: Norman Finkelstein, Steven Salaita) who have been denied academic employment or academic tenure due to their anti-Zionism (or criticism of Israeli practices) — another form of “exile”.

    We know of speakers and writers who sought to make presentations, usually in university, church, or synagogue settings, who were (often consistently) denied these fora — another form of exile due to Zionist pressure.

    Lastly, along the lines of Liz Rose’s experience, is the experience of anti-Zionist activists, perhaps especially of Jewish ones, such as Alice Rothchild (“A Special Kind of Exile”) see: http://www.ameu.org/PDF-Archives/vol48_issue4_2015.aspx

    Whereas Zionism announces that its purpose is to provide a safe place for Jews in a dangerous world, to receive the Jewish exiles and victims and displaced persons, it appears that a major (and contradictory) part of Zionism is the creation of “exiles” nowadays very much including Jewish exiles.

  2. philweiss
    philweiss on September 15, 2015, 12:23 pm

    A beautiful meditation for the Jewish new year, Liz. You had a lifechanging dream in which your soul communicated the reality of persecution today to your intellect. Reading your story will allow other people to walk your hard path, more easily. As the poet said, In dreams begin responsibilities.

  3. DaBakr
    DaBakr on September 15, 2015, 1:07 pm

    while converting from a Zionist to an anti-Zionist is certainly the authors perspective to embrace. Perhaps however, had she ever had to fight (really -as in physically) to defend her family and neighbors from actual harm and/or death her perspective might have taken on a slightly more mature stance. But instead LR went from playing around with tiny imaginary toy trucks to playing around with imaginary dreams that allow her to feel guilt and shame for her privilege which she imagines is the root cause of the i/p conflict.

    So she came to Israel and availed herself of the educational system for a higher degree and left.
    Had she chosen to stay she would have found a community of like minded leftists who have very similar -even many who did fight-who share her guilt and shame. no matter how disappointing, disgusting or depraved one’s views may be to another-there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state by playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks’

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus on September 15, 2015, 1:56 pm

      Abu Bakr

      How many people are you? Sometimes near-illiterate, sometimes (as now) with perfect standard American English…
      Anyway, that despicable propaganda is too dated.
      Who but a piece of shit of a traitor wants to be part of the “Israel for all” against the Resistance?
      Israel delendum est.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on September 15, 2015, 2:01 pm

      “-there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state by playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks”

      Yes, the terrible violence of the Israeli Left toward the Israeli Right and towards the settlers must be prevented from happening again! Or even worse, an alliance of the Israeli left and Palestinian Israelis.

      Ph, Dabakr, I’ve been meaning to ask you, when you say “the security of the (Israeli) state”, uh, where exactly is that located? If you want security, it’s best to know where your borders are and what belongs to you or not.

    • annie
      annie on September 15, 2015, 2:16 pm

      no matter how disappointing, disgusting or depraved one’s views may be to another-there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state by playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks’

      whether “there is room for all” in israel, or not, is really not the issue tho is it? it’s who is allowed in. surely you’re not suggesting that all the people denied access are denied on the basis of “playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks’”. there are many americans denied access to jerusalem, some who were previously born there. people who did nothing whatsoever to achieve their ‘access denied’ status other than simply being born of palestinian ancestry.

      • DaBakr
        DaBakr on September 17, 2015, 4:09 am

        @an

        Maybe there are algorithms taken place where you simply suspect, with no proof that the visa entry system is arbitrary. You seem to judge by emotions which have proven to the worst element of the job needed. Maybe in certain exceptional casescues there ma be some merit. But not much more then that

      • annie
        annie on September 17, 2015, 4:45 am

        Maybe there are algorithms taken place where you simply suspect…the visa entry system is arbitrary

        you’ve got to be kidding me.

        btw, “casescues” is not a word.

      • RoHa
        RoHa on September 17, 2015, 8:57 am

        It looks like a software-generated typo to me. My software sometimes insists on gluing words together and inserting them where they are not wanted.

        But let’s not dismiss it too quickly. “Casescues” would be a good word for some form of architectural decoration that hasn’t got a name yet.

      • Kris
        Kris on September 17, 2015, 9:30 am

        DB, I think someone spiked that KoolAid.

      • talknic
        talknic on September 17, 2015, 9:59 am

        RoHa ” … “Casescues” would be a good word for some form of architectural decoration that hasn’t got a name yet”

        It’s so casescuesque

      • eljay
        eljay on September 17, 2015, 2:15 pm

        || RoHa: … “Casescues” would be a good word for some form of architectural decoration that hasn’t got a name yet. ||

        What is the correct way to pronounce the word and is it acceptable to surround it with commas? ;-)

      • Mooser
        Mooser on September 17, 2015, 3:46 pm

        “btw, “casescues” is not a word.”

        Dabakr simply misspelled the word “casacues”. It’s a type of settler al fresco dining in which food is broiled over a burning house.

      • RoHa
        RoHa on September 17, 2015, 7:13 pm

        @talknic

        It works. Now all we have to do it make it mean something.

        @eljay

        1. Cass – ess – cues
        2. Not unless the context requires them.

      • eljay
        eljay on September 17, 2015, 9:24 pm

        || RoHa: … @eljay

        1. Cass – ess – cues
        2. Not unless the context requires them. ||

        , Thanks Roha. :-)

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson on September 15, 2015, 3:29 pm

      RE: “no matter how disappointing, disgusting or depraved one’s views may be to another-there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state by playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks’ “ ~ DaBakr

      MY REPLY: Room for all? Really?
      Including Arabs? Including blacks?
      Or do you mean room for all Jews? Even in that case I would still say “really?” Room for Neve Gordon? Room for Ilan Pappé? Room for Avraham Burg? Room for Noam Chomsky? Room for Norman Finkelstein? Room for Hedy Epstein? Room for Jacobo Timerman, if he were still alive? [I could go on ad nauseam, but I’ll spare you.]
      The answer is NO, because the Likudnik government of Israel can easily decide that any Jew who is not a Likudnik might possibly “undermine the security of the state”.
      So, when you claim that “there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state”, it is a meaningless claim. Virtually anyone can be said to “start to undermine the security of the state”. The National Socialists in Germany believed that Jews, Roma, communists, homosexuals, etc. undermined the security of the German state! ! !

      SEE: “Who Will Save Israel”, by Uri Avnery, zope.gush-shalom.org, 23 May 2015

      [EXCERPTS] THE BATTLE is over. The dust has settled. A new government – partly ridiculous, partly terrifying – has been installed. . .
      . . . Now the situation inside Israel proper is about to change drastically.
      Two facts attest to this.
      First of all, Ayelet Shaked has been appointed Minister of Justice. One of the most extreme right-wing Israelis, she has not made a secret of the fact that she wants to destroy the independence of the Supreme Court, the last bastion of human rights. . .
      . . . PERHAPS WORSE is Netanyahu’s decision to retain for himself the Ministry of Communication.
      This ministry has always been disdained as a low-level office, reserved for political lightweights. Netanyahu’s dogged insistence on retaining it for himself is ominous.
      The communication Ministry controls all TV stations, and indirectly newspapers and other media. Since all Israeli media are in very bad shape financially, this control may become deadly.
      Netanyahu’s patron – some say owner – Sheldon Adelson, the would-be dictator of the US Republican party, already publishes a give-away newspaper in Israel, which has only one sole aim: to support Netanyahu personally against all enemies, including his competitors in his own Likud party. The paper – “Israel Hayom” (Israel Today) – is already Israel’s widest-circulation newspaper, with the American casino king pouring into it untold millions.
      Netanyahu is determined to break all opposition in the electronic and written media. Opposition commentators are well advised to look for jobs elsewhere . . .
      . . . One cannot avoid an odious analogy. One of the key terms in the Nazi lexicon was the atrocious German word Gleichschaltung – meaning connecting all media to the same energy source. All newspapers and radio stations (TV did not yet exist) were staffed with Nazis. Every morning, a Propaganda Ministry official by the name of Dr. Dietrich convened the editors and told them what tomorrow’s headlines, editorials etc. were to be.
      Netanyahu has already dismissed the chief of the TV department. We don’t yet know the name of our own Dr. Dietrich. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1432296815/

    • Xpat
      Xpat on September 15, 2015, 10:40 pm

      “Perhaps however, had she ever had to fight (really -as in physically) to defend her family and neighbors from actual harm and/or death her perspective might have taken on a slightly more mature stance.”

      Translation: almost getting killed in downtown Jerusalem isn’t good enough to make the Israeli experience real. That’s child’s play. Only those who put on the IDF’s uniform and terrorize Palestinians on the West Bank or massacre them on Gaza truly get it.

      “So she came to Israel and availed herself of the educational system for a higher degree and left.”

      Translation: She paid good money to attend a university built by world Jewry (the whole place looks like a giant synagogue; there are donation plaques everywhere) in a city massively subsidized by world Jewry (I bet that Botanic Garden was a Jerusalem Foundation project or similar non-Israeli, Jewish enterprise) in a city whose international standing is built in it importance to three world religions. But this American Jew is just a taker. Unlike Mr Israeli Baker, the rightful owner of it all.

    • pjdude
      pjdude on September 16, 2015, 10:55 am

      god how paternalistic. so she is immature because she rejects militerism and hate in favor of well more mature ideas. i’d say you and yours are the ones with immature ideas.

      • eljay
        eljay on September 16, 2015, 11:22 am

        DaBakr not only knows the right way and the wrong way to be a Jewish person, he also knows the right way and the wrong way to be a Jewish supremacist.

        Impressive.

        If/when the position of ZioMullah (qu’est-ce que c’est) becomes available, I think he should occupy it.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on September 16, 2015, 2:29 pm

      “So she came to Israel….”

      “Israel?” I thought this story takes place in Jerusalem! Is that in Israel? I must have my geography mixed up.

      “if/when the position of ZioMullah (qu’est-ce que c’est) becomes available, I think he should occupy it.”

      He’ll never make the cut. Those jobs are already filled, with long waiting lists.

    • talknic
      talknic on September 19, 2015, 2:31 pm

      @ DaBakr “…. had she ever had to fight (really -as in physically) to defend her family and neighbors from actual harm and/or death…”

      Like the Palestinians have had to do every day for 67 years as they watched Israel take more and more non-Israeli territories? Remember, Israel has lost no territory, Israelis have not been dispossessed by the Palestinians and as you’ve asserted elsewhere, they are hardly an existential threat to Israel. http://mondoweiss.net/2015/09/spends-military-israel#comment-797699

      “… instead LR went from playing around with tiny imaginary toy trucks to playing around with imaginary dreams that allow her to feel guilt and shame for her privilege which she imagines is the root cause of the i/p conflict”

      Meanwhile Israel actually dispossesses and slaughters in order to fulfill its illegal expansionist policies

      “.. no matter how disappointing, disgusting or depraved one’s views may be to another-there is room in Israel for all-until they start to undermine the security of the state by playing with real explosions and real ‘trucks’”

      Odd, Israel prevents people from entering Israel for merely expressing disagreement with its illegal activities in non-Israeli territory. It shoots people for protesting.

  4. JWalters
    JWalters on September 15, 2015, 8:20 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Our fears do enter our dreams. They can also derail our rational thinking. Like the slaveholders who constantly feared a slave revolt, who were too preoccupied with their own safety to contemplate the evil of their actions. But as your case so beautifully shows, people can awaken to reality.

  5. YoniFalic
    YoniFalic on September 16, 2015, 3:03 am

    Is it really a good thing to remain friends with a Zionist? I can no longer talk with my friends and relatives that are Zionists. They disgust me as racists that continue to believe in 19th century style genocidal colonialism that continues in the perpetration of genocide.

    If the issue were a 19th century style enslavement of Africans and her friend were keeping slaves, would Liz Rose still maintain her friendship after realizing that slavery was wrong?

  6. wdr
    wdr on September 16, 2015, 5:34 am

    The author should give her house in Chicago back to the American Indians she stole it from. How can she bear to live for even 24 more hours in stolen property? She and her family had absolutely no connection with Chicago probably before 1910 at the earliest, maybe 1990, yet she insists on squatting in property she took from some wretched Indian tribe whose ancestors lived there for 50,000 years. What hypocrisy!

    • YoniFalic
      YoniFalic on September 16, 2015, 8:55 am

      wdr gives the standard reply of my relatives that try to justify the crimes of Eastern European Jews in the Levant. US anti-native atrocities took place long ago when Europeans believed it was their God-given right to expel or to kill the natives and then to move in Europeans. Such is the logic of Zionism.

      Racist Jews and their supporters try to justify the crimes that they committed and commit in the 20th century by means of crimes that Americans committed generations ago and that practically all Americans today admit were wrong.

      Would racist Jews try to justify holding Africans in 19th century style bondage because slavery existed in the US in the 19th century? When I read Israeli newspapers sometimes it seems so.

      Anyway, after Auschwitz it was despicable to found a state in genocide. It is more than despicable to try to justify this founding by the sick logic wdr uses.

    • talknic
      talknic on September 16, 2015, 9:27 am

      @ wdr “The author should give her house in Chicago back to the American Indians she stole it from”

      Is the US still stealing today? She didn’t steal it BTW

      Israel and its Illegal Israeli settlers are stealing today!

      How can she bear to live for even 24 more hours in stolen property? … etc etc etc ..”

      How can Israel’s illegal settlers live with themselves? Oh, oh I get what you mean. If the American Indians hadn’t been dispossessed etc, the Zionist Federation wouldn’t have decided to colonize Palestine in 1897 … right?

      Or if she leaves, Israel will withdraw from all non-Israeli territories, take all its illegal settlers and suddenly adhere to International Law and the UN Charter, pay compensation for illegally acquiring territory, dispossession, 67 years of exploiting non-Israeli resources … right?

      Say …. should American Jews also leave the US?

      • talknic
        talknic on September 19, 2015, 2:35 pm

        COME BACK WDR!! You haven’t gone thru the Hasbara list of squawking points

    • eljay
      eljay on September 16, 2015, 10:40 am

      || wdr @ September 16, 2015, 5:34 am ||

      Another Zio-supremacist horks out a big ol’ gob of Zio-supremaicst whataboutism.

    • Kris
      Kris on September 16, 2015, 10:52 am

      I guess you don’t subscribe to the notion of human progress, wdr, since you are saying one historical wrong justifies another.

      That is why slavery, human sacrifice, cannabalism, infanticide, and genocide like the Holocaust are still acceptable today, right?

      • Mooser
        Mooser on September 16, 2015, 1:12 pm

        “I guess you don’t subscribe to the notion of human progress, wdr, since you are saying one historical wrong justifies another.”

        The first thing wrong with their what-aboutery, is that they make implicit that settler-colonialism, slavery, massacre, any atrocity is a normal part of nation-growing, not terrible mistakes to be avoided, which have an immense cost everyone (except for the few who, in one way or another profit from them) pays, the victims, the perpetrators, the country and the land.

        And the second thing? That one is hysterical, the idea that Israel can pay a one of those political, social and environmental costs and afford it.

      • JWalters
        JWalters on September 16, 2015, 7:42 pm

        By wdr’s absurdly simplistic reasoning, anyone has the RIGHT to obliterate Israel at any time.

      • JWalters
        JWalters on September 16, 2015, 8:21 pm

        And it also follows that Hitler had the right, again by wdr’s reasoning, to obliterate Jews in his quest to build a greater Germany.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb on September 16, 2015, 11:42 am

    Zionists, all of them, would do well to re-read the Ten Commandments.

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