An Israeli Dream of 1000 Cats
It’s a new year. 2014 was awful. 2015 was just as heavy, perhaps not in numbers, but in proximity as the violence crept closer to me and mine. As we come to 2016, I wonder what awaits us now. I close my eyes and think what could be if our leaders abandon their current destructive trajectory, if my people would join their voices to demand that our government bring an unexpected but much-needed peace, if Messianic Jews would take a prominent role in seeking and pursuing peace in the Holy Land.
Awhile ago, I read a dream that moved me. It sucked me into its pages, beckoned me to a graveyard to hear a story, took me on a journey, and recounted A Dream of a Thousand Cats .
A beautiful Siamese cat invites her fellow cats to listen to her story and share her dream. She was terribly wronged by her human owners, leaving her disillusioned with her life of comfort. She embarks on a long journey to find Dream to ask why this tragedy befell her. The traverse is long, challenging, and lonely. She loses much of herself along the way, yet she continues onward until she reaches Dream.
And then she learns how things were, and how they came to be. She discovers how humans were once tiny creatures, subjects and prey to cat-ladies and cat-lords. Humans would feed and pet their cat-masters, and when the cats were in need of food or amusement, they would hunt and feed on the humans.
Then one day a man challenged his fellow humans, proclaiming that “Dreams shape the world. Dreams create the world anew every night. Do not dream the world the way it is now... Dream a new world. Dream a world of human beings… Dream a world in which we will no longer be hunted and killed by cats.” He continued, “I do not know how many of us it will take, but we must dream it, and if enough of us dream it, then it will happen. Dreams shape the world.”
At first, nothing changed. But slowly, people began to believe it, to dream it. And one day, they woke up and all was changed. Small domesticated cats dodged large human feet, and humans were the masters of their own destinies.
The Siamese cat is puzzled. She asks Dream, “So they dreamed the world into the form it is now?”
He replies, “They dreamed the world so it always was the way it is now. There never was a world of high cat-ladies and cat-lords. They changed the universe from the beginning of all things until the end of time.”
The Siamese cat returns home with the burden and task of this knowledge. She takes it upon herself to travel, share her story, and urge other cats to dream with her. One dreamer is never enough, but if they could share a dream, if just a thousand would dream with her, they could change their situation. “Dream the world, not this pallid shadow of reality, dream the world the way it truly is.”
As I read the story, I found myself in the pages and the feelings of despair and expectation it evokes. Even though I come into this year a bit skeptical, I am inspired to dream anew for 2016, to dream that enough of us would believe in our capacity to change reality, that we would engage in observable efforts of civil resistance against immoral and oppressive policies in Israel/Palestine.
The numbers don’t need to be overwhelming to ensure success. Researchers used to argue that a government could not survive if five percent of the population mobilized against it; current research reveals that no campaigns involving active and sustained non-violent participation of 3.5% of a country’s population have failed . If just 3.5% of us refuse to cooperate in the oppression of the occupation through concerted nonviolent civil resistance, we can lay a foundation for peace in our land. This is my dream as an Israeli.
As a member of the Messianic Jewish community, I know that waging peace and ending the occupation are not high on our list of priorities, if they feature there at all. Toward the end of the story, after the Siamese cat implores her fellow-cats to dream with her, a skeptic remarks, “I would like to see anyone -- prophet, king or god -- persuade a thousand cats to do anything at the same time.” The same could be said of many groups, Messianic Jews included. Yet I know there are lone voices, here and there, that refuse to use theology to justify oppression, that believe that the primary message of our Messiah was to call for a reversal of the social order and to advocate for those at the bottom of the social ladder, that choose to be aware of the gross injustices Israel engages in against the Palestinian people. Perhaps our contribution this year can be to consolidate our voices, to encourage our fellow Messianics to care about these issues, and to theologically and politically engage with current Messianic paradigms that ignore that the occupation is an issue. This is my dream as a Messianic Jew.
Dear reader, what is your dream for the present and future, and what can you do to contribute to its fulfillment? If you have values that overlap with mine, will you dream with me?
 Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Dream Country, “A Dream of 1000 Cats.”
 Data analysis evaluating 100+ years of violent and nonviolent campaigns to overthrow a government or fight for territorial liberation involving a minimum of 1000 observed participants shows that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to succeed as violent ones. See Erica Chenoweth, Civil Resistance and the 3.5% Rule, http://bit.ly/1bYtMyy.