TODAY’S TOPIC: Dreams of Jewish and Arab Children Reflect Fear, Distrust
JERUSALEM (AP) _ ″I saw two Jews holding my friend and holding weapons. And one said to me ‘Come’ and I did and told him I hadn’t done anything ... and he tied my hands and took me to a faraway place. And I was scared,″ an Arab boy said, describing his nightmare.
″A battalion of Arab soldiers came to Israel, to show that they don’t want peace ... and they took me and other girls and boys and they tied us up and hid us in their hideout,″ an Israeli boy said, describing a bad dream.
The two boys’ dreams were included in a newly published study about how the dreams of Arab and Jewish children reflect the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The psychologist who researched the subject, Tehila Blumenthal, said in an interview that about 30 percent of the children’s dreams involved some aspect of the conflict.
Arab children dreamed about it only slightly more often than Jewish children, but the Arabs expressed far stronger emotions, she said.
But she said the fact that they dream more often about other subjects indicated they were ″experiencing reality normally.″
Most of the dreams about the Arab-Israeli conflict, she said, are ″imbued with hostility which stems from distrust.″ She said this led her to believe ″there is no hope that the conflict will stop when these kids grow up and contribute to policy making.″
Miss Blumenthal collated the four-year research for a Hebrew University master’s degree. She now serves as a Ministry of Health educational adviser and child psychologist.
The study is based on the dreams of 357 Jewish children and 180 Arab children, aged 10 to 12, each of whom recorded at least four dreams in notebooks over a period of two months. Dreams that appeared to be invented were excluded from the study, Miss Blumenthal said.
The Jewish children were selected from kibbutzim (communal farms), middle- income urban families and two settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The Arabs came from a village in Israel and a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank.
The study found that Arab children dream both of surrendering to the Jewish conqueror and of extreme violence against him. They tend to view Israel’s army as a well-organized institution that bullies helpless people, it said.
″Soldiers told me to open the door and I said, ‘I won’t open.’ They tore down the door and said: ‘Take all your things out of the house.’ And they burned the clothes and demolished our beautiful house,″ an Arab boy from the village of Taibeh recorded in his ″dream book.″
The Jewish children, on the other hand, dream of Arabs as terrorists who infiltrate their homes and attack innocent victims, according to the study which did not publish the names of the children who participated in the dream research.
″I was with my friend, and all of a sudden two terrorists came and caught us in a dark place and cut our arms and legs. We cried and screamed, but it didn’t help,″ wrote a girl from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba located next to the predominantly Palestinian town of Hebron.
These dreams, while stereotypical, reflect the reality the children see around them and are often based on actual attacks, Miss Blumenthal said.
The Arab children’s dreams reflect a feeling of a national mission - the children fight to get back land which the Jews took away, the study said. It cited the following dream of a boy from Taibeh as one example:
″And the Jews came to us, they wanted to take our home...we fought them and killed them all. And I threw the knife at one of them, and I stuck it in his head and his stomach, and I killed the other one.″
Miss Blumenthal said she found few dreams of friendly interaction between Arabs and Jews, only about 6 percent. Most of those were reported by both Jewish and Palestinian children in the West Bank, where Jewish settlers live in tension side-by-side with Palestinians.
Many of the dreams reflect confusion about the reasons for war, according to the study.
This is how a Palestinian boy from the Kalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem described his dream: ″The town was dark and deserted, and I started screaming. And war broke out and reached our village and I ask myself: Why don’t I have a father, and mother and a home? Why all this war?″