של מי הבית הזה, לעזאזל ? Whose home is it anyway

 

 
Recently, I endured a series of dreams, almost nightmares, and all sharing one common theme. Home, houses, residence, dwelling places. I was relocating, homeless, residing in a house which is not mine, residing as a “live in” domestic slave worker at an old Nazi woman’s house, being in between or somewhere which is not Israel but not abroad. Homelessness was the issue, but more so, belonging and identity. I had very valid and strong personal reasons to have these disturbing dreams. I recently relocated from North America to Israel, found a temporary rental and was on the look out for a more permanent residence. My experience in North America included a form of nomadic life, homelessness and political exile. Certainly, I had ample reasons to feel displaced and uprooted. I am also under extreme financial difficulties, which would add to the worries.
 
Surprisingly, a few weeks ago a friend of mine called me and wanted desperately to share a nightmare, or a recurring dream she said was haunting her. This friend is quite wealthy and owns her own house with a nice acreage. Therefore, she certainly did not share my physical conditions. Her dream, as she recounted it, was strikingly similar to mine, and the way she described the “theme” was also quite similar. Her interpretation to her own symbols was totally personal and psychological. Later that month I stumbled upon a new website, which announced the formation of a new therapeutic institute. It was a Jungian oriented institute, dealing with Symbols and their importance in our lives. I surfed the various places in that site and landed on a “dream interpretation” service, offered by the psychologist who formed the center. As an illustration to the service he offers free (on line interpretation) he posted one dream that was sent to him. The dream was a striking replay of my dreams, the lady reported she has a series and recurring dreams about “not finding her house”, living in places that are not hers, being somewhere that might be Israel or not, etc. In her description she writes that she is a holocaust survivor and “generally anxious about the security issues in Israel”. The psychologist gave a very general interpretation, suggesting that she has to find a “life purpose” and it would settle her anxieties. I found his response lacking in depth and empathy, but added this web page to my archives for later processing.
 
Still later that same month, I read excerpts from a new novel published in Israel, by a Jew of Moroccan origins, mourning the displacement of his community which immigrated from Morocco to the “Home of the Jews” in order to experience a worse sense of exile, within the Jewish State, now run by mostly European Jews who looked down at the Arab Jews. The author highlights milestones in the journey of his family starting with the departure of Morocco, traveling under harsh conditions, and reaching Israel, and then the final disillusion of realizing that while they were “Jews” in Morocco, they are now considered “Moroccans” among the Jews.
 
At this point I felt enough “signs” that the issue is asking, or begging me, to address it. A Sabra like myself (meaning, born in Israel), my friend an Israeli-American woman, a holocaust survivor and a Moroccan Jew, we all feel displaced and uprooted, in the deepest sense of this term. The easiest explanation of this inner displacement would be to attribute it to being an immigrant, rather a refugee, in Israel and the trauma involved in this major shift. But then I returned to a detailed examination of these dreams, and another issue came to my mind. While most immigrants and refugees escape their home and find refuge in another, strange, land, the Jews were supposed to go the other direction. Escaping oppression in “foreign lands” they found refuge in their historic and ethnic home, namely, the newly founded Israel. This was the narrative of the collective unconscious, and many individuals lived their lives accordingly, finding their main “life purpose” and meaning in partaking in the “return to the historic home”. This shift required a re-narration of the relationship with the country they had left. This had to become the “foreign land” they willingly left behind for a more authentic spiritual life.
 
Fifty years later, the sense of the promised “home” never came, in fact, many Jews feel oppressed, persecuted and alienated from their own communities, and perhaps unconsciously begin to question their ‘big narrative” and focus on which they built their lives. The sense of betrayal and disillusionment at times may be automatically projected on the “security issues” (namely the threat of terror and war). But, if that were the case, the dreamers would have no sense of displacement and alienation, rather of being attacked by Arabs, which would not have created the emotional conflict that leads to nightmares and neurosis. My suggestion was that the individual unconscious of these people, including myself, is signaling a “warning sign” that the Israeli state is becoming an oppressive and perhaps fascist regime that persecutes the deeper sense of “Jewish identity”. While procedurally favoring Jews to non-Jews, the State betrays the deeper identity of Jewishness for which protection it was established.
 
Since the Zionist narrative so powerfully captured the imagination and engaged the deepest hopes of Jews for final refuge and belonging, its collapse creates a major conflict that finds its outlet in the coded language of dreams. Naturally, the holocaust survivor would find it impossible to question her “life purpose” and her decision to kill (as in annihilation of inner parts) her previous identity in favor of the new one.
 
My final dream in the series, for the time being, gave me some leads for possible solutions. In my dream I was kept as a domestic slave in an old woman’s house, outside of Israel. Under the rules of the place, Jews, like me, are depersonalized and do not enjoy rights. Therefore, I live under terror, that should I make a mistake in the house, I can be sentenced to death. One day, a friend of mine visits; she is a German lady who immigrated to California years ago (which might indicate that the dream happens in the USA). She takes me out on a trip, and the old lady lets her do it, because they are both equal and free. In my trip to the city, I take the city train, and meet an Israeli woman. She tells me that she was recently notified by the national Israeli theatre group -Habima – that they will employ her, and thus she and her spouse are returning to Israel. Knowing that I am a persecuted Jew, she offers to rent their apartment, for a thousand dollars a month. I tell her that I do not have such money, and then she goes. Later I meet a friend of mine, an Israeli artist who is a holocaust survivor from Hungary. I show him a new piece of art that I made and ask for his approval. After some deliberation he finally evaluates my work as “acceptable” and as something to start with.
 
My interim conclusion from these seemingly unrelated events is that various individuals are receiving the larger warning signals of an entire community that strayed from its higher potential. Specifically, the dreams indicate the dreamer is concerned that Israel is becoming a fascist and persecuting regime, that by its nature contradicts deeper symbols of the Jewish spiritual identity. Israel thus becomes similar to the “Exile” where the individual felt persecuted as well, on racial and spiritual grounds. However, since the collapse of the collective narrative is so threatening, the dreamer reverts to nightmares without solution, a “Wandering Jew” identity, stored already in the great pool of historic memory.
 
In my last dream while the issue of national identity is brought to an acute paradox, there is some pointer towards a resolution – the introduction of art and artistic expression as mediation and re
solution. The safe Israeli woman can immigrate back to Israel only as an artist (actor) – although she still must serve a "nationalist" cause – for which she is also renumerated by financial and social protection. The holocaust survivor, who is an artist, is able to mediate between his former identity and Israel, and can offer me a some initiation passage into a new identity within the Israeli society. This solution took me back to the movie “The Pianist” of last year. In contrast to the grand holocaust “epic” movies of the past, it pointed to another resolution of the holocaust. The Pianist, after going through the trials and tribulations of the holocaust, does not change his course, his identity or his life purpose. He picks up his work where he left it, in Poland, as a musician. This is a reasonable and human response to the holocaust, as juxtaposed by the Israeli interpretation of the holocaust as a call to annihilate the “exilic Jew” and create a new, brutal identity.
 
Under this resolution, the Zionist settlement in Israel becomes possible, provided it allows for the natural development of the highest and most refined spiritual “Call” of its citizens, which in my dream, is symbolized by art. However, if the former Zionist narrative turns into the oppressive force that persecutes the transcendental Jew, then truly, the paradox of living in Israel becomes unbearable and a source for nightmares.
 
 
 

 

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