I have a dream

The old house at the end of the street was being renovated. Scaffolding covered its façade while workers ran around over the wooden platforms.

They hammered with axes, removing layers of plaster, and cleaned the walls with bristled brushes.

Two workers caught my eye as they sat on the scaffolding with their legs in the air.

They lit a cigarette for each and boiled coffee on a little gas stove then poured it from the coffeepot.

The scent of the coffee reached me as I listened to their conversation.

– Listen, I’m so fed up building these lovely houses for them. In our village, we have no room to even add on another room and whatever we build in our village they tear down.

– Maybe someday these houses will be ours, and we’ll return to the places they conquered.

– Get real. We’ll never be able to be victorious.

   Standing armies tried when they were a small country and failed, and now they’re getting stronger. They have sophisticated weapons and defense.

– So how’s it going to be then? We can’t continue to be Grade B citizens. We studied, we have college degrees, and look at our jobs. No country wants us. Even our sister countries won’t take us in. So what else can we do? Blow ourselves up in plazas, run them down in the streets, or stab them. These actions unify them and only hurt us. That’s not the way to achieve freedom. That’s not the way to fulfil a dream.

–       What dream?

–       To be a free people in our own land.

–       How can we be a free people if they took our land and claim it’s theirs, that God promised it to them. Some British Lord send them a letter about that matter. The League of Nations confirmed that they were to have a national homeland, and even the Prophet Muhammad promised that they would inherit the land as written in the Holy Quran.

–       Even if we join them, we’ll never be citizens with equal rights. They have their own Jewish sectors who are considered Grade B. So how would we have equal rights?

–       So what are we going to do? I feel like I’m suffocating.

For so many years I’ve been wondering how they came here as penniless refugees, and look at what they succeeded in accomplishing.

–       But we were refugees, too. However, we remained refugees, materially as well as spiritually. We didn’t succeed at anything except for blowing ourselves up, running people over, and stabbing them. I’ve been reading and studying about the reason for our failure. What’s the secret of their success?

In my opinion, our leaders don’t have the courage to give up on things and they ask for things that are impossible to fulfil. Look how they succeeded: no one gave them the entire land that was promised, but they agreed. They didn’t give them their holy cities, but they agreed anyway. People who slaughtered and burned them attempted to recompense them with money and “lentil stew” and they agreed.  They gave up on fulfilling their prophets’ prophecies and were awarded the realization of the prophets’ vision. They gave up on the socialist principles that were the guiding light of their enterprise when it began, and they succeeded.

Out of the fragments of dreams they fulfilled a dream.

Meanwhile, our leaders are stubbornly attempting to fulfil our dream completely, without giving up any demand whatsoever. Instead, they are demanding everything in full down the very tiniest detail. In the final analysis, we are left without anything at all, with the fragments of our dream and without hope.

–       Listen, I have an idea you may like.

I went over to a conversation to eavesdrop with the hope that they wouldn’t see me.

The situation we’re in arose from arbitrary decisions by people who don’t belong here. Since the Roman era, the entire territory comprising Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon was one territory which the Romans named Syria-Palestine. During the Umayyad and Mameluke periods the territory was named Greater Syria, or a-Sham. During the Ottoman period, although the entire area was not one single administrative district, but nationalists during World War I and World War II argued that it was an autonomous unit.

The Christian powers are the ones who divided the territory after World War I. The northern section was given to France and the southern section to England.

In the northern section, Syria and Lebanon were established, with the southern area becoming Jordan and Israel, with a small undefined area remaining, called the West Bank. The division was artificial: King Abdullah of Jordan, King Hussein’s grandfather, strove and dreamed of controlling the northern section in Syria and his brother Faisal, who was given Syria, wanted to prevent the division of Greater Syria and dreamed of expanding southward.

It was not only the kings who wanted Syria-Palestine, but the people also wanted it. A Syrian National Congress was established, which demanded the establishment of a unified state within the borders of Greater Syria, but all of the attempts at unification failed.

Our land, our homeland, is not the small area between Jenin and Jericho and between Kfar Sava and the Jordan River: our homeland is large and wide.

Jordan was born in sin. Most of its population is made up of our brethren. The British tore off part of the Mandate area from which they established the Hashemite Emirates to pacify the Emir Abdullah. Jordan was the inseparable part of Syria-Palestine.

The State of Israel, which is part of Greater Syria, came into being, established firm roots, and became stronger. We must admit that it is helping us to raise our quality of life and adopt western principles. We have to accept it as a fait accompli, in the same way that we must accept Christian Lebanon as a fait accompli. Maybe that is an advantage, because in our country of Syria-Palestine, there is no room for a large Christian minority, nor a large Jewish minority. Maybe it’s a good idea as well to establish a Shi’ite Alawite country in the north, and in that way maintain the character of our country as a Sunni country.

The Arab Spring that swept through the Arab countries over the past few years has become the Arab Winter, full of hatred, destruction and blood.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. The artificial frames created by the foreign powers are crumbling. There are demonstrations in Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. Libya has been destroyed, there was a revolution in Egypt and now it’s in crisis. ISIS attempted to create a Caliphate framework, but their path has sowed destruction and murder in Iraq and Syria.

Our land, Syria, has become a battlefield. Millions were displaced, refugees to neighboring and more distant coutnries. Millions fled their homes, abandoning them, and about half a million residents were murdered by Syria’s leader. Not even the people ruling over us are that cruel.

Modern Syria is an artificial state. An Alawite minority uses force to control the Sunni majority, using Hizballah, Shi’ites and a European power to repress and slaughter the Syrian people, our blood brothers.

This destroyed country, in ruins, provides us with the opportunity to expand northwards and reinforce the Sunni majority. It is there that we can realize our national aspirations. After all, it is our land.

Rebuilding the ruins and constructing the infrastructures, financed by international support, will become the springboard for economic activity. Refugees from Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank would stream into Syria and establish a Syrian-Palestinian state, and in this way we would be able to realize the dream of a Greater Syria and restore our past glory. Most of us would march towards that “Good Land” to Damascus and Aleppo, since Syria is a very extensive and fertile land with room for all of us.

We would assist our brother Sunnis, the Syrians, to become the ruling majority in our shared country.

–       But what about the West Bank? What would become of Hebron, Jenin and Nablus?

–       We would divide up this small area between the blocs of settlement belonging to us and to them. Palestinians who remain in the West Bank, would vote and be elected to the Parliament in Damascus.

–       Do you think that they would be happy we’re leaving them?

–       They don’t interest me. We need to do what’s good and correct for us.

When their pioneers left Eastern Europe, they didn’t think for a moment what would be good for their former neighbors in Romania, Galicia and Russia, but they did what they felt was important.

–       But what about al-Quds – Jerusalem?

–       al-Quds will remain a holy city for us and further generations – forever. It has never been a state capital during the Islamic Era, and there is no need for this Holy City to be the capital of a kingdom. In Saudi Arabia, as well, the capital is Riyad and the holy city is Mecca. In Morocco, Fez is the holy city while Rabat is the capital. Let’s get out of this suffocating “box” that Churchill and his gang put us into.  Let’s have some fresh air. Let’s be free without locks and without barriers.

Let’s build houses for our children and estates for our families and let’s take responsibility for our own future.

–       Wow it’s an insane dream.

–       They also dreamed an insane dream. They themselves never believed that the dream would come true.

–       Their own visionary didn’t believe that they would succeed in reviving their ancient language. Their own Ahad Ha’am didn’t believe that most of their people would come together and live in an ancient homeland. But it did happen.

Just like their Holocaust was an accelerator for fulfilling their dream, maybe the holocaust of our brethren in Syria and our own Naqba can act as a catalyst for fulfilling the dream of a Syria Palestine-a Greater Syria.

They have a 2000-year old dream, and yes, they fulfilled it only partially, but they never trimmed down their dream or abandoned their hope.

We, too, have a dream – the dream of a Greater Syria – but we trimmed it down and abandoned it and now we’re emptied out.

If we will it, the dream can come true in 5 years or in 50 years.

If we will it, it is no dream, but if we don’t will it, it is a dream.

–       Yalla, Let’s go, I finished my smoke. Let’s get back to work or he’s liable to yell at us that we’re wasting precious time. I heard he has another house to renovate.

I left the place quietly and went back to my house at the end of the street, thinking things over. Suddenly it was as if lightning struck me. How did I understand what they were saying? They were speaking Arabic, and I don’t understand a word of it, except for some curse words or “good morning.”

Then I woke up and realized it was all a dream.

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