Why Should Israel Be a Nation-State at All?

The proposal by the Netanyahu government to enshrine Israel’s status legally as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” has met with much controversy. Placing the proposed legislation in its philosophical and historical context, Yehudah Mirsky argues that nationalism and the nation-state do much more good than is often assumed, and are preferable to universalism:

Universalism comes in many forms, not all of them benign. This is so not only in the Middle East. To take a malign example, much of Western anti-Semitism rests on a kind of exclusionary universalism—as does radical Islam—in which rights are denied to those who do not accept “our” version of what is good for them and humanity. These exclusions, whether they derive from Athens, Saint Paul, or [the Muslim-Brotherhood theoretician] Sayyid Qutb, have no room for Jews. . . .

[I]n order for statehood to survive, to be able to bring forth the bonds of solidarity and collective responsibility without which even the most solitary life is at the end unlivable, and to endure via anything more than mere brutality and fear, it must speak to some meaningful forms of belonging, managing the necessary ties and nearly inevitable contradictions of the primordial bonds, civic associations, shared pursuits, and ultimate values that together shape the lived experience of our lives. Political, social, and even legal institutions are answers not only to instrumental needs but to existential questions. . . .

The human person, the figure at the center of the very idea of human rights, is not a person-in-general but a concrete figure, embedded in time and place and yet . . . able to see in the people of other times and places a reflection of ourselves. The dynamic tension of the particular and the universal is woven into the very fabric of being human. Living and working that tension to the fullest is the burden, and blessing, of the Jews.

Read more at Marginalia

More about: Anti-Semitism, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Nationalism, Universalism

How to Turn Palestinian Public Opinion Away from Terror

The Palestinian human-rights activist Bassem Eid, responding to the latest survey results of the Palestinian public, writes:

Not coincidentally, support for Hamas is much higher in the West Bank—misgoverned by Hamas’s archrivals, the secular nationalist Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA)—than in Gaza, whose population is being actively brutalized by Hamas. Popular support for violence persists despite the devastating impact that following radical leaders and ideologies has historically had on the Palestinian people, as poignantly summed up by Israel’s Abba Eban when he quipped that Arabs, including the Palestinians, “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Just as worrying is the role of propaganda and misinformation, which are not unique to the Palestinian context but are pernicious there due to the high stakes involved. Misinformation campaigns, often fueled by Hamas and its allies, have painted violent terrorism as the only path to dignity and rights for Palestinians. Palestinian schoolbooks and public media are rife with anti-Semitic and jihadist content. Hamas’s allies in the West have matched Hamas’s genocidal rhetoric with an equally exterminationist call for the de-normalization and destruction of Israel.

It’s crucial to consider successful examples of de-radicalization from other regional contexts. After September 11, 2001, Saudi Arabia implemented a comprehensive de-radicalization program aimed at rehabilitating extremists through education, psychological intervention, and social reintegration. This program has had successes and offers valuable lessons that could be adapted to the Palestinian context.

Rather than pressure Israel to make concessions, Eid argues, the international community should be pressuring Palestinian leaders—including Fatah—to remove incitement from curricula and stop providing financial rewards to terrorists.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion