Nationalism In The Middle East Essays

This question is not only central due to academic necessity, but it is of fundamental importance for the attainment of peace in a region dominated by war, neo-imperialism and gross violations of human rights.

Understanding the evolution of Jewish and Arab, more specifically Palestinian consciousness, in its emergence through a socio-political nationalism, allows for a more profound understanding of the status quo.

Al-Nahda (cultural awakening) was the basis of Arab nationalism’s intellectual modernisation, Sayyid Jamalaldin fused an adherence to Islam with an anti-colonial doctrine and in 1859, al – Bustani was calling for an Arab nation to counter Western domination.

Behrendt argues Arab nationalism was merely an imitative adaption, a way of compensating for and overcoming inferiority complexes caused by colonial rule[27], however this is a view that fails to understand that the Muslim world was originally perceived a single political unit, until Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt.

Western colonial encroachment played a role in the shift from Dar al-Islam (Household of Islam) to the contemporary territorial states, a shift that was mediated by pan-Arabism.

Al-Bazzaz argues Arab nationalism was a tool to create a healthy political existence, a weapon against intellectual imperialism and a way towards salvation, dignity and justice, through the formation of national spirit.[25] Although a feeling of ‘Arabism’ and Arab consciousness had always existed[26], Western colonial encroachment fuelled and necessitated Arab nationalism as a form of physical, intellectual and psychological defence.The failure of Jewish assimilation into their respective nation-states galvanized anti-Semitism and Ha’am argues it degenerated into ‘self-effacement’[6].This corruption of the Jewish spiritual centre threatened the nation, as it repressed national inclinations, and the development of the Jewish nation was dependent on self-love – Zionism was the remedy to achieve self-confidence and national vitality that assimilation had failed to provide.Pinkser writes in 1882 that anti-Semitism was a ‘psychosis and incurable’[17], the only remedy was to become an independent nation through self-liberation.Herzl appreciated this analysis especially after the 1903 pogrom that left 49 dead – Brenner argues that it was not the butchery that stirred the Jews, but rather that the Jews had put up no defence.[18] Hence, anti-Semitism abased the Jewish nation, and abreast with the failure of assimilation, provoked a response that sought to cure this abnormal condition of Jewish life. The nationalists.”[19] Such a mentality highlights the feeling of betrayal, thus the emergence of Zionism was to demand action from the Jews.This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree.E-IR publishes student essays & dissertations to allow our readers to broaden their understanding of what is possible when answering similar questions in their own studies. When one explores the cause, it is to understand the effects of an action, and in essence, the effects of Zionism and Arab nationalism have dominated relations and the balance of power of the Middle East.Zionism was also a response to the need for unity; Hovevei Zion was understood as the only way to ensure Jewish collective existence, ‘as religion could no longer serve to unify our hearts’[23].At its core, Zionism sought to rebuild something that anti-Semitism and failure of assimilation had destroyed – the Jewish spirit.Nordau stresses Zionism as a cure for the rootless, Western Jew[22] – where Palestine would anchor the nation and provide security.The failure of assimilation and growth of anti-Semitism highlighted Jewish physical insecurity, Zionism provided a simple solution for this with Palestine.


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