The Dream Alone is Not Enough- Hadar Susskind (July 8, 2024)

In 1902, Herzl wrote 'im tirtzu, ein zo agada; if you will it, it is no dream' (ok, so he wrote it in German and Nachum Sokolov translated it into Hebrew). When he wrote these words, the idea that he was contemplating, a national home for the Jewish people, was considered by most to be fantastical, impossible, or downright ridiculous. And yet, even in the face of being told repeatedly that what he was working toward was unachievable, Herzl did not give up. The power of this quote is not in saying that you should dream big. It is in the fact that it requires you to will your dreams into existence. The second part is quoted far less often, but its lesson is no less important: ve'im lo tirtzu, agada hi ve'agada tisha'er'; and if you do not will it, a dream it is and a dream it shall remain.

Herzl’s dream of a Jewish homeland was realized with the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948. And today we dream of a homeland for the Jewish people and a homeland for the Palestinian people. We dream of peace. We dream of a better future where Israeli children and Palestinian children do not grow up in conflict and are not taught hatred, but rather live and flourish together. 

But all too often, when we share these dreams, we are told that it is impossible. We are told that one side or the other is too full of hatred, of evil, to ever make peace. We are told that there is no partner. We have all heard the scorn in the voices of critics as they say that the time when a two-state solution was possible had passed. We have seen the disbelief in the eyes of cynics when we talk about coexistence. And we have felt the hatred of extremists who do everything possible to derail these efforts and destroy these dreams.

And if dreams are all that they are, then the cynics and the extremists will be right. 

But dreams backed by will, backed by work, commitment and dedication, those dreams can become reality. 

Yesterday I stood in front of the White House and spoke to a group of activists whose commitment and dedication is the embodiment of the political will that is necessary to make change happen. It was 94 degrees outside on a Sunday afternoon. The event had originally been scheduled for the previous week as part of the solidarity rallies taking place in connection with the July 1st peace rally in Israel but was rescheduled due to bad weather. 

Many of the people who were there are familiar faces. They stood with us at the Israeli Embassy in January of 2023 as we protested the formation of Netanyahu’s government of fascists, felons and fundamentalists. They came out to #SayNoToSmo when Smotrich came to Washington DC in March of that year. And they also came out in solidarity with the people of Israel after the horrible attacks of October 7th.

They, like all of you who are reading this, who show up in your communities, who support this work in so many ways, have no illusions. They know the painful truth. We are in the midst of a brutal war. Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have the leaders in place who will bring about peace. This is the reality today. But it does not have to be our future. 

Peace. Security. Dignity. Justice. 

It’s a sad truth that for many in Israel and Palestine, these seem like dreams. But their realization, their actualization, is no more impossible than Herzl’s dream was. And achieving this will require the same thing that Herzl required. Will. Work. Dedication and commitment. 

We will continue to strive for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike. We will continue to speak up and speak out in our American Jewish community and with partners and allies. We will continue to urge the American government to do all that it can to help achieve these goals. And we will continue to dream.

In the words of Robert Frost:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   

But I have promises to keep,   

And miles to go before I sleep,   

And miles to go before I sleep.