Nationalism In The Middle East Essays

Nationalism In The Middle East Essays-5
This emancipation represented hope and a taste of freedom: the Western European Jewry believed it had a chance of changing things.However, the anti-Semitism that followed aggressively shattered this dream, that mankind was progressing towards assimilation, cosmopolitanism and a one-world culture.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.

This emancipation represented hope and a taste of freedom: the Western European Jewry believed it had a chance of changing things.However, the anti-Semitism that followed aggressively shattered this dream, that mankind was progressing towards assimilation, cosmopolitanism and a one-world culture.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.

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It is important to note that Jews felt marginalised and betrayed, especially the Germany Jewry who had endeavoured to assimilate. Who created the German national movement in Austria? Furthermore, Zionism was a response to anti-Semitism in the sense that it sought to put the Jews on good terms with their Gentile neighbours, Herzl articulates that the Jews shall depart as honoured friends, if some returned they would be greeted as favourable and civilised.[20] Thus Zionism was a solution for the failure of assimilation and a way to abate the aggressive growth of anti-Semitism that threatened the existence of the Jewish nation, by uniting the nation Herzl believed not only could anti-Semitism be allayed but, the Jewish spirit would be revived.

The impact of anti-Semitism is evident through Jewish literature, such as Schnitzler’s Weg in Feie, where Ehrenberg states, “Who created the liberal movement in Austria? The crux of Zionism is a movement as an effect of the precarious situation in Europe, thus a response to the need of security and national dignity, through unity.

Zionism was a self-conscious psycho-political effect of the failure of assimilation, which looked to the Jewish state to provide a remedy for “poverty, complete tranquillity and national glory.”[14] The genesis of Zionism was in large part caused by the rise of anti-Semitism, especially the events of 1881-84 in Russia, following the death of Tsar Alexander II.

This composed and fuelled the movement in its formative years.

This essay shall argue that Zionism was, to a limited extent, a response to the failure of assimilation but especially due to the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), whose contrast to assimilation, highlighted a moral and physical “national death.”[1] Albeit, Zionism was in essence a response to the precarious situation in Europe, which in turn was caused by a rise of anti-Semitism and hence the need for security and dignity through Jewish unity.

Nationalism In The Middle East Essays

Although Ahad Ha’am stresses that the ‘instinct for national survival’[2] and not anti-Semitism caused Jewish nationalism, Anita Shapira argues that it was a mixture of all these factors that caused Zionism to be born out of deep disappointment, shame and outrage.[3] Arab nationalism in turn, was a response to Western colonial encroachment and anti-Ottoman feeling, inspired by a return to the purity of Islam; Arab nationalism was an “immortal message and the way to salvation.”[4] Edward Said highlights that Zionism was Palestinian nationalism’s alter ego,[5] it helped shape the identity it took, but identities are fluid and dynamic and to suggest that Palestinian nationalism emerged as a response to Zionism, would be greatly myopic and underestimate its roots in pan-Arabism.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.Although this essay has focused on political Zionism, it is important to realise the role of cultural Zionism, where Ha’am emphasised the need for a spiritual centre – this would be grasped by raising national dignity to a moral obligation, “to take pride in its people, glory in the honour of the nation!”[21] Through this Zionism would also encourage the emancipation of the Jewry from a feeling of inferiority; it saw itself as an enlightened for of nationalism to liberate the oppressed.Russia was riveted by 215 pogroms that destroyed million worth of Jewish property,[15] especially that of Kishiner and Besserarabia, that consolidated the anti-Semitic character, inducing great migration to Central and Western Europe.Newspapers and literature cultivated the stereotype of the sly Jew and Herzl highlights the quotidian encounters of anti-Semitism, such as abusive language, that were more dangerous than political anti-Semitism.[16] Zionism can be seen as a direct effect of the need to save and redeem the Jews from the bewildering intensity of anti-Semitism and rumours of blood libel.Both Herzl and Lilienblum stress the dangers of the failure of assimilation, as they still rendered the Jew, ‘a stranger’[9] or ‘a guest’[10]– a stranger could only be received into a family as a guest, however a guest that competes or bothers is angrily reminded of his status.[11] Lilienblum’s attitude to the stranger is in essence why Zionism emerged out of necessity, it sought to protect the Jews from the danger of a ‘national death’[12] both physically and spiritually.Moreover, assimilation broke down the Jewish spirit; the Russian and Polish Jewry were confined to shtetlachs (Jewish areas of inexorable decline) and Ha’am highlights that the failure of assimilation had a profound moral and material impact[13], and the only cure was Hovevei Zion.The Haskalah, an 18th/19th century movement advocating enlightenment values and pressing for integration into European society, garnered assimilation; it advocated ‘coming out of the ghetto’[7] in a spiritual and physical sense, in order to assimilate.The failure of assimilation was highlighted by Jewish emancipation of the late 19 century.

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