Book review: Why Nationalism

By Ian Reifowitz | 2019-10-07 | including 1 item |
Why nationalism, indeed? The concept is problematic enough, given that most nationalist movements and most governments that identify as nationalist have discriminated, oppressed, or even exterminated minorities within their borders. Furthermore, nationalist chauvinism has been a contributing factor in many cross-border conflicts. Nationalism only became more controversial when, last October, the person who has done more to advance hate in America than anyone in decades—from the White House no less—declared that he was “a nationalist.” Yael Tamir is a scholar, founder of Israel’s Peace Now movement, and a onetime Labor Party member who, as minister of education, approved the use of a history textbook for Arab children that, in a discussion of the war that led to Israel’s independence in 1948, referred to the outcome using the Arab term “nakba” (i.e., the disaster). At the time, Tamir was attacked by Benjamin Netanyahu and others on the Israeli right, and she defended her decision as follows: “The Arab public deserves having us give expression to its feelings as well.”