The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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I had the dream again last night. It was about orthodox Jews, who were praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, ambushed in a narrow alley on their way back to their one-square-block ďsettlementĒ in the middle of Hebron city. Twelve Israelis are killed, mostly from the military escort that goes with them almost everywhere in Hebron.

That settlement was actually removed after the Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty of 1996, but in my dream it is still there today, and there is no Palestinian state. Israelis are still all over what we used to call the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and their gunships are firing rockets into Gaza City in revenge for the Hebron attack. The whole of west Asia is on the brink of war. Crazy, I know, but it comes every night.

I used to have another dream like this a long time ago, only then it was about World War III. In that dream, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in early 1962, not late 1963, so Lyndon Johnson was already president when they found the Soviet missiles in Cuba. He blew it, of course.

Recently, though, Iím having this weird, highly detailed dream in which Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated before the peace treaty with the Palestinians, not afterwards. Do you recall that incident when a Jewish right-wing fanatic was caught with a pistol at one of Rabinís rallies in November, 1995, long before some of the settlers who were forcibly removed from the West Bank as part of the peace settlement, actually shot him down in front of the knesset in late 1996' In my dream, Rabin is killed by the first guy.

Killing peace

I knew Rabin a bit, in the way that journalists get to know the politicians they interview, and he clearly understood that he might be killed if he made peace with the Palestinians. Like Michael Collins making peace with Britain in 1923 that left the Protestant Unionists in control of a quarter of Ireland. He knew that a land-for-peace deal would enrage the fanatics, who might take revenge by assassinating him.

But I donít think it ever occurred to Rabin that he might be killed just for talking about a compromise peace, even before he actually made the deal and closed down the settlements. In the dream, that is exactly what happens ó and there is no peace deal. It looks at first as if Rabinís heir, Shimon Peres, will win the election after Rabinís murder on a sympathy vote, but then Hamas deliberately pushes the Israeli electorate into the arms of the anti-peace candidate, Benjamin Netanyahu, by carrying out a vicious bus-bombing campaign.

Netanyahu stalls peace for three years, fending off the feeble pressure from some plump and greasy non-entity called Bill Clinton, who occupies the White House for most of the Nineties. (I forgot to mention that in my dream George Bush, who would never have let Netanyahu get away with it, lost the election in 1992.)

Canít wake up

Then in 1999, a well-meaning but clumsy general called Ehud Barak wins power back for the Labour Party in Israel and tries to restart real peace negotiations ó but by then Yasser Arafat is even older, sicker, and more indecisive, and Barakís own coalition cabinet threatens to fall apart every time he offers to trade concessions with the Palestinians.

Eventually his cabinet does fall apart, and the frustrated Palestinians explode into a new uprising that involves regular suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, and the frustrated Israelis elect Ariel Sharon, of all people, to deal with it. (Yes, I know, itís unthinkable that Israelis would let Sharon near power again after all that he has done. But in the dream, they do.) There are over 3,000 Palestinians and Israelis dead already, and a new war in west Asia is coming up.

Itís just not plausible that one manís premature death could change the world so much. (But think what would have happened if Kennedy had died early.) West Asia of the real world isnít a great place, but at least terrorism has died down and a few Arab countries are experimenting with some sort of democracy. It could be a whole lot worse. In the dream, it is. And now I canít wake up.

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