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Now Israel may have found its own political theorist: Yoram Hazony. In a forthcoming book, The Virtue of Nationalism (reviewed this issue by Bruce Abramson), Hazony makes the case not only for national states but for nationalism. He argues that only nationalism can safeguard liberal democracy, while international organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union are dangerous to liberty and democratic accountability. The villain of the piece is Immanuel Kant, whose dream of global government Hazony regards as a nightmare. He draws on a wealth of examples from history to bolster his argument that the emergence of the modern nation state in the Reformation has made possible the flowering of Western civilisation. Crucial to his case is the Hebrew Bible, which provided a blueprint for the benign form of nationalism that flourished in England, the Netherlands and other Protestant countries that defied the Catholic universalism of the Habsburgs. Hazony, who has written brilliantly on the Bible and on the intellectual origins of Israel, devotes the most coruscating section of his book to “Anti-nationalism and Hate”. He turns the tables on the left-liberal Europeans and Americans whose unceasing campaign of hatred against Israel derives, he argues, from diametrically opposing interpretations of the Holocaust. Whereas Israelis and indeed most Diaspora Jews concluded that Jews would never be safe unless they had their own nation state, Europeans decided that nationalism was the cause of what Meinecke called “the German catastrophe”, and that independent states must therefore be subsumed in a supranational entity. The stubborn refusal of Israelis to think and behave like Europeans damns them in the eyes of the latter. As Hazony puts it, for Europeans “Israel is Auschwitz” — hence the comparisons between the IDF and Nazis. Anti-Semitism has reemerged in Europe in a left-wing, anti-Zionist form that often makes common cause with political Islam. Israel has become a standing rebuke to the leaders of the European Union, who have presided over the emergence of powerful Islamist political forces in the heart of Europe.

Britain has just made a symbolic gesture by sending the second in line to the throne on the first ever official royal visit to the Jewish state. Yet the British Foreign Office feels obliged to make it clear to the host country that when the Duke of Cambridge sets foot in the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount, which are sacred to Jews, he is entering “Occupied Palestinian Territory”. There is no more important attribute of national sovereignty than the recognition of a capital city, symbolised by the location of embassies there. By not only denying such recognition to Israel, but adopting the Palestinian claim that Jerusalem — including the Old City — is the capital of Palestine, Britain is playing along with the Islamist agenda. To concede sovereignty over Jerusalem, holiest of holies to Jews and Christians, is dangerous because it appears to validate the universal and eschatological aspirations of Islam.
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Lawrence James
September 2nd, 2018
12:09 PM
For the whole of the 19th and much of the 20th centuries, the British parliament debated the affairs of the colonies. There was a big and fascinating debate on the Amritsar affair and parliamentary questions on such lesser matters as to whether or not district officers in Somaliland could pass death sentences. The conduct of empire was always the business of Parliament and this gave moral validity to the imperial state. This was true of France and Germany, where imperial policy was regularly discussed. In many instances, the interests of native populations were better cared for in countries that are no longer colonies but nation states.

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