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Islam and Nationalism

Posted By Yoel Meltzer On June 16, 2011 @ 12:25 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 36 Comments

One of the cornerstones of the two-state solution is the belief that the Palestinians, as well as the larger Arab world, will be satisfied with the creation of an Arab state either within the territory of Judea and Samaria alone or when combined with the smaller Gaza Strip.  Either way such a country, as many of the two-state supporters claim, is all that the Arabs really want and therefore the fears that one day the Arabs will try to liberate all of “Palestine” are nothing but hot air.

In addition to whitewashing the PLO’s 1974 Phased Plan for Israel’s destruction, a plan which many argue is still in existence, as well as just being downright naïve following years of Arab belligerence, the faithful advocates of the two-state narrative are also ignoring another salient point.

As is well known the Palestinians, together with most of the Arab world, are overwhelmingly Muslim.  This is a very key point because it affects the Arab outlook on state nationalism in a way that is very different from the standard Christian or Jewish perspective.  For this reason it is erroneous to arrive at conclusions regarding Arab intentions based upon a non-Muslim mindset.

For instance, although in Judaism there is the concept of “the nation of Israel” (am yisrael) connecting all Jews throughout the world in a feeling of mutual allegiance and brotherhood, the existence of this international facet does not negate the distinct national aspect of Judaism, namely the obligation to establish Jewish sovereignty specifically in one area of the world known as the Land of Israel.

In Christianity the situation is different since there is no parallel concept to the “nation of Israel” fostering a kindred feeling amongst all Christians throughout the world.  Thus without this binding factor a Christian living in France feels first and foremost attached to his French country and is committed to its wellbeing just as his fellow Christian in Argentina feels the same there.

In Islam, however, the situation is different from both Judaism and Christianity.  There is the concept of the “ummah”, the nation of Islam, which unites all Muslims in the world as one family regardless of where they happen to dwell.  Together with this there is the aggregate region where the Muslims at any one moment have complete sovereignty, itself a precondition for being allowed to freely and fully practice Islam, known as the Dar al-Islam or “abode of Islam”.  Hence it is the combination of the two – the ummah creating the feeling of mutual obligation amongst all of the world’s Muslims and the Dar al-Islam, an entity which must constantly be expanded beyond its traditional Middle Eastern base – which precludes the idea of state nationalism from taking hold in the Islamic world in a way that is similar to either the Jewish or Christian world.

This being the case, it is foolish to believe that granting the Arabs another state will somehow make them sufficiently satisfied to the point of laying down their weapons and changing their ways since the whole concept of state nationalism, from a western perspective, is nonexistent in Islam.  Similarly, it is wishful thinking to assume that they will ever accept the existence of a small Jewish “outpost” called the State of Israel, regardless of its size, in the heart of the Dar al-Islam.

Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. His personal blog is Yoelmeltzer.com.


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