SJCA: Colliding Dreams (April 28)

Colliding Dreams: Documentary history of Zionism is the focus of SJCA’s panel discussion on April 28 on Zoom Saratoga Jewish Community Arts, supported by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern NY and sponsored by Temple Sinai of Saratoga Springs, presents a panel discussion of the 2015 documentary Colliding Dreams by American filmmakers Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky on April 28 at 7 pm on Zoom.

Few ideas in the modern era have had as much impact on the world as Zionism. Colliding Dreams recounts the movement’s dramatic history, one of the most controversial and urgently relevant political ideologies of today. The century-old conflict in the Middle East continues to play a central role in world politics. Yet, amidst this fierce, often lethal controversy, the Zionist idea of a homeland for Jews in the land of ancient Israel remains little understood and its meanings often distorted, even by many Jews.

Born in the late 19th century, Zionism’s seemingly utopian dream was meant to solve the age-old problem of anti-Semitism and to allow a place for Jewish life and culture to flourish in the modern world. Few could have envisioned its remarkable and (by historical standards) rapid success: the creation in less than a century of a thriving democratic Jewish state. Yet despite its achievements, the very legitimacy of the Zionist idea – and the State of Israel – are questioned more today than ever before.

Debates over Israel – always present but heightened after the latest violence, terrorist attack, war or national election – are often guided by emotion rather than substance, by fear or anger rather than a thorough understanding of Zionism and its history. Jews and Arabs both believed that, at the end of World War I, Palestine would be theirs. Jews worked for and cited the Balfour Declaration while Arabs asserted promises made by Britain on the condition they would fight alongside the Allies against the Turks. Today’s strife finds its roots in these seemingly conflicting promises.

So, what are the colliding dreams? Was it the divergence between a homeland and a state? Between a humanitarian, socialist Zionism cooperating with Palestinians already there and a militant Zionism seeking to expel non-Jews? Or was it towards evolving dreams, which could be read as nightmares in someone else’s sleep? “What does the future hold – what’s the solution?” asks Phyllis Wang, Coordinator of SJCA. “We hear all the time, ‘it’s complicated.’ That perspective shows an inciteful awareness of the countless interlocking pieces in this history — and offers little guidance or a route to resolution.”

Colliding Dreams can be viewed free of charge on Kanopy (registration with a library card required). It can also be rented from Apple, Google Play and You Tube. The panel discussion will be held on Zoom on April 28 at 7 pm. To register, click Register for Colliding Dreams or go to the SJCA Home Page.