‘I wouldn’t worry ’bout it none, though
Them old dreams are only in your head’
Talking Third World War Blues, Bob Dylan
I had a dream last night that perhaps threw some light on issues of war and peace. And yes, I do sometimes have dreams this complex and content specific.
This is what I recall now I am awake. I dreamed I was a British ex-special forces soldier caught up in the Israeli-Palestine struggle. I had previously fought for the Muslim Bosnians to stop their massacre by the Christian Orthodox Serbs, and then for the Christians in Darfur to stop their massacre by the Muslim horsemen from the north of Sudan. And now I was with a Palestinian group trying to infiltrate a women Palestinian politician into the West Bank past Israeli security.
It was just before dawn in the dream, and my group of Palestinians ran into an Israeli patrol. Both sides were totally surprised and for a moment no one moved. Then for what seemed like minutes we stood shooting at each other, but no bullets hit. Both sides realized we were out in the open firing at each other, and eventually ran back for cover. We exchanged shots and shouted abuse about each others’ marksmanship from cover. The Israelis said we couldn’t shoot to save our lives, and we said we thought they were better trained. I even shouted that I had an Israeli Galil rifle and it clearly didn’t want to shoot Israelis. The Israeli officer, who had I confronted face to face when we ran into them, shouted: ‘Are you English’ and I said ‘Yes’. ‘Go home Englishman and take your Palestinian friends with you, before our artillery finds you’. We retreated, firing as we went, and went home without casualties on either side.
Later in the dream, I was in a North London pub, and the Israeli officer, who was clearly North London Jewish from his accent came over to me and said ‘What on earth were you doing on the West Bank?‘ And I told him about Bosnia, and Darfur, and said ‘I fight for the oppressed and I would fight for the Israelis if they were oppressed but they were the oppressors‘ and asked if he didn’t he realize that expelling the Palestinians in 1948 had been as traumatic as the diaspora for the Jews? He said: ‘That fire fight we were in and couldn’t hit each other changed me. I left the army and now work for peace, which is why I am back in London.‘ And I said ‘I gave up fighting too. I am too old and someone else can take my place, if I can’t even shoot straight.’ We had a good laugh and I think maybe we started to work together for peace…..
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now…’
From Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen
See Also Dave Grossman ‘On Killing’ for the natural human resistance to killing in war and the recent use of behavioral psychology to overcome this with catastrophic results in post traumatic stress disorder, much of which results not only from the stress of danger, of fear of being killed, but the fact that people who kill others close up are traumatized by the experience, and need a lot of healing and de-programming to return to normal life.