The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


              Nationalism and Jihadism
In the past few weeks there have been a number of articles (one is here, although registration is required) about the transformation of Palestinian nationalism into just another branch of the international jihad. Today, Amir Taheri takes up that argument.
The same is now true of pan-Islamists. They dream of a universal Islamic state, either under Iranian Shiite leadership (as with Hezbollah), or under the leadership of Salafi movements. In their vision, there can be no distinct Palestinian identity, let alone Palestinian nationalism.

Muhammad Khatami, the mullah who was president of the Islamic Republic, has dismissed nationalism as an illegitimate child of the European Enlightenment which led to colonialism, imperialism and world wars. In this view, the idea of a nation-state of Palestine is a Western concoction, alien to Islam. Even the "one state" formula (the fusion of Israel and Palestine) is only an intermediate step. Such a state would eventually be absorbed into the single universal Islamic domain.
Undoubtedly, in the past few years the Palestinians have drawn closer to Islamism and away from nationalism; Hizbullah as well as al Qaeda has infiltrated at least Gaza, if not also the West Bank. More importantly, the election of Hamas shows the route that the Palestinians want to take - religion as opposed to secular nationalism.

However, Taheri's conclusions are completely incorrect.
Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert is wrong in putting Ariel Sharon's policy of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank on hold. For the two-state formula to work, it is imperative for Israel to decide exactly where it wants its frontiers to be drawn. Once it is clear where Israel wants to be, it would be possible to discuss where Palestine could be as a state.
His "solution" ignores the facts on the ground. Israel's two withdrawals (Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005) have not led to peace. In fact, the very opposite has happened. Both groups saw weakness in the Israeli withdrawals, and the lessons that they took away were that through rocket attacks and bombings Israel would be forced to withdraw. The same will happen with a withdrawal from the West Bank. Palestinians have already been smuggling rockets into the West Bank, and preparing to use them. Without an Israeli presence, they would undoubtedly smuggle in longer range rockets from Hizbullah and its sponsors. They would then have the capability to directly attack Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. One of the main lessons of the Lebanon war was that withdrawal doesn't work; and the idea of a Palestinian state has been postponed for another generation.
|| Nudnik 12:33 PM
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