Friday, November 19, 2010
"Romantic" nationalism and Israel's futureThe late-18th and early-19th century rise of nationalism brought forth different concepts in the Americas and in Europe. For the United States, citizenship in the United States was seen as a choice: People came to the United States because they wanted to be part of America and its democratic system.
In Europe, the sense of nationalism was based on Romantic notions of "the people", each version of which (French, German, Italian) was assumed to have a set of identifiable, characteristic traits that gave them a cultural and spiritual kinship and made them a nation. That notion was reflected throughout the 20th century in citizenship laws that were based on ancestry as opposed to birthplace. So, for instance, a person born in Russia and living there their whole lives but whose grandparents were German, was entitled to claim German citizenship on that basis. While a Turkish person born in Germany to parents born in Germany would have to go through a much longer process to obtain German citizenship. (Americans sometimes wrongly assume that this procedure was particular to Germany. But it was the common approach in Europe since the 19th century.)
Carlo Strenger and Menachem Lorberbaum give us a thought-provoking reminder of that European approach to nationhood in Israel must choose between Enlightenment and Romanticism Haaretz 11/19/2010. They observe that in the much-discussed developments that will increasingly force Israel to choose between being a Jewish state and being a democracy, the Israeli right is increasingly embracing that old European style of Romantic nationalism:
There is nothing "Jewish" about political romanticism - if anything Jews were among its most prominent victims.Tags: israel
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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