I have a dream (am I allowed to say that?)

Famous words: I have a dream

Saying them, writing them, feels a lot like cultural, political and social appropriation.

The words, said by countless individuals, over many years in many places, but immortalised by one man, Martin Luther King jr.

Words have meaning and power and while words are often thrown around, used flippantly or applied incorrectly, the right words, used appropriately, can contain depths that, once explored, have the ability to take souls and minds to places that transcend time and space.

Jews have words.

For millennia, Jews scattered throughout the world, outside of the land of Israel, have lived in what has always been referred to as the “diaspora”.

Jews have, for millennia, turned towards “Jerusalem” in the prayers, yearned for Jerusalem in their souls and learnt about Jerusalem in their holy books.

The land of Israel (that area that includes real estate “between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean sea”) has, for millenia, been central to Jewish religious and civil life, and there are many Jewish religious laws that either cannot be practiced outside of the land of Israel, or only apply within the land of Israel. The land that includes the area “from the river to the sea” has always been the Jewish “homeland”

More recently, Jews have suffered, under the Nazis, a “genocide” where the most evil atrocities were committed.

Also, in recent history, the State of Israel adopted the “law of return” aimed at protecting Jews, providing safe haven, and ensuring that the horrors of the Holocaust would never be repeated. It gives all Jews the right to “return” to their historic “homeland”

As with some nations, and in particular nation states, the Palestinians as a nation state is relatively new in terms of geo-political and religious history.

Palestinian nationhood has also created a Palestinian “diaspora”, with people of Palestinian descent scattered to the four corners of the world.

While “Jerusalem” (Al Quds) was never the capital or religious centre of any Arab country or Moslem empire, Al Quds (Jerusalem) is now the religious, cultural and civil centre of Palestinian longing.

The historical Land of Israel, including the area “from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea” was never a Palestinian (or Arab) state, but is now accepted by many as the “homeland” of the Palestinian people.

The right of Palestinians to live within their “homeland” is being supported by a push to implement the Palestinian “right of return” that gives Palestinians an inalienable right to “return” to their “homeland”.

Palestinian suffering and the casualties of war are said to be the result of a “genocide” against the Palestinian people.

Non-white, and in particular black South Africans suffered under a system of “Apartheid” which is yet another word that is used to describe the injustices experienced by the Palestinian people.

Words can be appropriated.

Words can also be misappropriated.

I appropriated Martin Luther King jr’s words. Appropriating powerful words can indeed be powerful.

And just like me, Palestinians have also “appropriated” powerful words.

Martin Luther King jr’s “words” are the ones that ring in my head as I observe the tragedy that plays out for Palestinians on a daily basis, the clashes that erupt every few months and the wars that break out every few years.

This is because I too have a dream.

I have a dream that Palestinians continue to appropriate words.

I have a dream that Palestinians appropriate words that are, appropriate.

I have a dream that Palestinians stop misappropriating words that undermine the real genocide of Armenians, Rwandans, Rohingya, Bosnians, Yazidis and Jews.

I have a dream that Palestinians stop misappropriating words that belittle black South Africans and reduce the suffering of black South Africans to a politically convenient sound bite.

The Palestinian have (mis) appropriated millenia of Jewish words, dreams and desires. I have a dream that Palestinians continue to appropriate words and concepts from the Jews and Israelis.

I have a dream that Palestinians appropriate “Iron Domes” to defend their people, rather than “Qassam Rockets” to attack others.

I have a dream that Palestinians appropriate “bomb shelters” to protect their children rather than “Metros” to shelter their fighters.

I have a dream that Palestinians appropriate and develop into a “start up nation” rather than use a scientific knowledge to educate suicide-bomb making “engineers.”

I have a dream that “freedom of religion” replaces Hamas charter words of “fight Jews and kill them.”

I have a dream.

About the Author
Uri Marks lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife and three children. He is an arm-chair Zionist and laid back Jew, and is very opinionated on both topics.
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