Few other states claim to be “Nation-States” nowadays as the Zionist State claims to be. Instead of prizing homogeneous populations, it is considered better today for a State to boast of its multicultural diversity and its commitment to equality of rights for its citizens. However, the “Nation-State” concept was admired for a long time as a political ideal. Indeed, when it was invented during the European Reformation, it was a progressive solution to a serious set of conflicts. Wars of religion had raged for decades, as Protestants sought national independence for particular territories from the Holy Roman Empire. Civil wars raged on by each religious faction seeking dominion over the other. Finally, in 1648 the “Treaties of Westphalia” were conceived, creating a basis for national self-determination. Henceforth each territory would be sovereign and its ruler would decide its official religion. Political interference in the affairs of a different sovereign territory was prohibited. These treaties established the rule that states were to be entities within clear geographical borders, each with a population that should preferably be religiously homogeneous—a principle that grew into the “Nation-State” notion that each People should have its own state.
The Nation-State notion would become idealized by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, even though he denied that the German provinces, when unified, should be considered the German Nation-State, since only Prussia was “racially pure” enough to be considered a Nation. In this manner the Nation-State reflects a racialist concept in which each Nation or People should exclusively inhabit its own distinct State. This exclusivist doctrine was accepted by many liberals in the belief that it was somehow conducive to democratization by giving “self-determination” to each Nation. But the doctrine also has xenophobic and racist implications. Its exclusivism has resulted in many wars for control of territory, and has had grievous consequences for national minorities. In Europe they were either ghettoized or initially, forced to assimilate and then subsequently expelled or annihilated, as in the Holocaust of the Jewish and Roma Peoples.
Under such conditions of life and death, national minorities diverged into two different responses. One was the struggle for integration by acquiring civil rights—both individual and collective rights. Two such tendencies existed for either assimilation or collective defence.
Alternatively, there was a second political tendency for a given national minority—to attempt to replicate the prevailing Nation-State model by acquiring its own separatist entity. In the case of the Jewish People, this approach became codified as the theory of Zionism with the ‘Separation Principle’ of the Russian Zionist Jabotinsky. And that is how the Apartheid Separation Wall was built.
While all the various Jewish political tendencies sought to achieve ‘self-determination’, the Zionist movement were intent on building a ‘Nation-State’ on the European model as an outpost of the Occident. This was the notion of civilization, as if human history originated in the ‘West’. The Zionist concept of self-determination was particular because it was building a ‘Nation-State’ in the Land where an indigenous Nation lived already. Nonetheless the Zionist movement took the slogan from the Territorialists – ‘A Land without a People for a People without a Land’ to order to justify the capture of Palestine.
The problem with Zionist self-determination is that it denies the self-determination of the Palestinian People-Nation and so Zionism contradicts the right of self-determination even while it is claiming to uphold it for one Nation, but not for the other Nation in this case. This contradiction nullifies the ideology of Zionism as rational thought and contradicts the legal norms for self-determination which cannot deny the very same right to another People. This is why the Zionist State has been condemned so often by the United Nations General Assembly and not because it is being singled out.
The problem with Zionism itself is not that it is Jewish but that it is seeking to impose a State that is only Jewish. This is much the same as the right-wing populist currents such as the Christian fundamentalists of Trump who want a Nation-State that is only Christian Europeans. The same Nation-State concept is used by the Front National rightists in France as well to oppose the Arab presence in France. Each national political-culture has a similar current that represents about a third of the general public today. In the Zionist State however the far Right-wing populist current is still strong enough to form the coalition government presently in power.
It may also be observed that while the Zionist military campaign of Occupation began in 1947, other wars have followed. Another Occidental Crusade to remodel the Arab countries into the various spheres of influence outlined by the Sykes-Picot secret treaty has created the various Arab Nation-States today. This importation of the European model into the Western Orient Arab countries has met with continual disasters and opposition. This Christian and Zionist Crusade is being countered by the Arab Spring revolutions which are feed by the historic victory of the Algerian revolution in 1962 and the continuation of Palestinian resistance since 1947.
In this manner the Palestinian struggle for national liberation is at the core of the world geo-political impasse, which is plagued by both political and economic crises. The attempts to overcome such crises by subordinating others to better their condition are historic failures. The failure of the Nation-States is evident even to Europe which has attempted to build a Confederation on an equal footing. Meanwhile the Zionist State still imposes its Nation-State on the Palestinian, Druze, Bedouin and Mizrahi Arab Peoples as if this were still the 17th Century.
Dr. abraham Weizfeld
PhD UQÀM, MA York U., BSc UdeW
514 284 66 42
Nation, Society and the State :
the reconciliation of Palestinian and Jewish Nationhood