I need to talk about this dream I had last night.
It started in Israel. A reverie-devised Palestinian acquaintance of mine invited me to visit Gaza. I did, and we enjoyed a delicious meal together. Then I found myself in the middle of a great plaza that was filled with people praying. Many were prostate, on their knees, silent. Some were reading from small black books. I noticed a couple with glossy, vibrant tattoos in Arabic on their arms. One had what appeared to be a Star of David in a vaguely derogatory context.
So here I was, sitting with everyone in Gaza, the sounds of prayer all about me. Then an overwhelming sense of fear attacked my person. I looked down at my chest.
I was wearing an El Al t-shirt.
But not just any El Al t-shirt. It was one with a prominent blue Star of David on it. One that said specifically: “I am a Jew.”
In the dream, I waited for someone to condemn me. In horror, I waited to be killed. Yet no one did anything. People continued to pray. Nothing happened. All this, despite the evidence revealing that I was the “enemy.” Eventually I was able to voice my concerns to my Palestinian acquaintance. He tried to delay my exit, asking me to wait a bit. I informed him I was uncomfortable with staying.
Now comes the curious part. A large round slab of bread appeared in my hand as I made my departure; it was studded with seeds, oily, a portion torn off as if someone had broken into it already. I was in a hallway that I recognized as belonging to the apartment I grew up in, and my Palestinian acquaintance was there, too. We were both holding onto the bread. I thanked him for his hospitality and for sharing his wonderful food and culture with me. I told him that if more people ate meals together and conversed over eats, there would be more happiness in the world today.
And more peace.
I think we embraced. I can’t be sure. The dream ended on a happy note, though. I know that.
What should I make of this? I know: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And a dream is just a dream. Still, this one was extremely powerful to me and resonated in a forceful way. It reminded me of my concern about anti-Semitism and how it’s like walking on eggshells in this day and age, when I feel that so much could be construed as being offensive, and how I, as a Jew, am still a target for hatred. Yet it also suggests that sometimes we’re looking for enemies where we may also have friends … where there are people we can work with to find a solution who won’t judge us because of our religion, as we won’t judge them. And it might help if we make a deal over dinner.
Simple or simplistic? Perhaps both. I refuse to believe, however, that it’s impossible. Maybe my dream is telling me something. Maybe my dream is talking about … talking.
We can think about it. We do have time, though not much. Other perceived “enemies” have, over the years, put aside differences to get along. I think we can do the same.
And if it’s over a piece of torn bread, I’d say that’s all the better. Sometimes, that might just be the impetus we need.
Let’s make this dream—at least the last part—a reality.