My thoughts on Arab Nationalism

الحمد لله رب العلمين و الصلاة و السلام على خير خلفه اجمعين محمد
و على اله الطيبين و صحابه الصالحين

This is my thoughts on Arab Nationalism.

It will not be as detailed as i planned it to be.

Definition

How should one define Arab Nationalism? Well, people differ. Personally, i am a staunch supporter of Arab Nationalism, but not in all meanings of the word. Arab Nationalism can also be used for “Arab Supremacism”, which i severely disapprove of. I believe in equality of mankind, all people and all races, like what our Master, the beloved Prophet (pbuh&hf) stated in Hojat al-Wada’a:

“Verily, an Arab is not better than an ´Ajam (non-Arab), and an ´Ajam is not better than a Arab, except in Taqwa (fearing Allah)”

The Arab Nationalism i believe in is not about Arabs being superior to Non-Arabs. It is about arab mutual solidarity – that we should care about our fellow arabs and help them in the problems they face. One would argue that this is what we should do about all people, and i agree – but the problems that my own people face is so severe that they are my main concern.

It is about unity in the Arab world – that we should stand together and by this free ourselves from foreign domination. Today the Non-Arabs do not directly dominate the Arab world, but their culture do. Today, we Egyptians have to obey the western world to some extent – if we dont, we will lose the US economic support, which would be devastating. The only way we can encounter the economic and cultural dominance of the west and the east is by uniting. Not under one flag – but under one name and one goal.

Perhaps “Arab Nationalism” is a wrong term to use. The only reason that i use it is due to the popular usage of this term.

Economically, i absolutely support Gamal Abdel-Nasser and his Socialdemocratic politics – this is what saved Egypt.

Let me bring one example from the beautiful country of Sudan. If i mention Arab Nationalism in this case, many will interpret it to mean “The Northern Arabs are superior to the Southern Africans”. But thats not what i believe. What i believe is that the problems that Sudan face is the concern of us all. We should treat the sudanese, northerners and southerners alike, as our fellow countrymen. How would we like it if our fellow countrymen were getting opressed by one another the way it is happening in Sudan? We would oppose it. And react.

Who is an arab, then?

A brilliant question. The answer that i prefer and believe in is that an Arab is the one whose mother-tongue is Arabic and who is familiar with the arab culture and social norms to some extends. As you might know, this varies from town to town, from tribe to tribe and from country to country. There is, for example, a significant difference between Lower- and Upper Egyptian culture. The reason why i believe in this is the following reasons:

First, The vast majority about people who self-identify as arabs and are generally considered arabs, have uncertain origins. I bet most of egyptians who consider themselves arab is unable to prove that their ancestors hails from an arab tribes rather than egyptian fellahin or greeks, jews, nubians or romans. The same is true in virtually all Arab countries except the Hijaz, Yemen and Khaleeg. If we should focus on this aspect, then only few of us should be considered Arab.

Second, the traditional muslim view is that whoever speaks arab then he is an arab, this was even true for Salman al-Farsi (ra) whose parents were Persians and he arrived to Arabia as an adult.

Third, even the ones who CAN trace their ethnicity back to ancient arabian tribes, an absolute minority of these have native arab ancestors – most are Adnany rather than Qahtany. Adnanites are the one who hail from Ismail (as), whose mother was african, and whose descendants came to speak the arab language and culture, and the Qahtanies are the ones who lived in the peninsula before Ibrahim (as) arrived. Among the Adnanites is the Quraysh – the tribe of the Prophet (asws).

Fourth, even the absolute minorty who descents from the Qahtanites only do that paternal. It is possible to be Qahtani, ones qahtani grandfather married a somali woman, their son married a somali woman. Their son would actually only be 1/4 Qahtani, but the rest would be somali. Should he loose his arab language and culture, he would be consideres somali, not arab.

The attitudes of an Arab country towards minorities

What about those who do not self-identify as arabs then, but live in a country where the majority is considered Arab? Such as the Dinka Sudanese, Kurdish Iraqi’s and Berber Algerians?

They are our concern too. Our responsibility. They live in our lands, and are exactly as native to it as we are. Somewhere even more native.

So while they are not Arab in the ethnical sence, they are in the political sense.

They should be citizens the exact same way as we are.

The same applies for the christian minority.

Our attitude towards Israel

Lets unite first, okay 😀

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40 Responses to “My thoughts on Arab Nationalism”

  1. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “Economically, i absolutely support Gamal Abdel-Nasser and his Socialdemocratic politics – this is what saved Egypt.”

    I don’t know. The monarchy seemed to be doing well and was certainly spending less on an ultimately useless military.

    As for Arab nationalist attitude towards Israel, I’m afraid it was the same attitude Arab nationalists showed towards any non-Arab ethnic group in the region.

    Can you not just forget about it? The Germans have and compare where they are now to where they were when they tried to unite all Germans!

    Nationalism is always directed against others.

    What the Arab world needs is a good king and some patriotism.

    Unfortunately the trend ever since nationalism was introduced to the middle east (by the Europeans) was to get rid of the good kings and replace good patriotism with ultimately empty nationalism.

    I am from Germany but I despise German nationalism. I live in Ireland now and I dislike Irish nationalism too. Nothing good has ever been the result of ethnic nationalism!

    Also note that those Arab countries that are doing best are those that didn’t succumb to Arab nationalism.

    It’s the Arab monarchies that kept some level of civilisation going. The nationalists simply destroyed from within what could have been a powerful empire.

    Not that I think the Saudis were useful. They call themselves a royal family but it was THEM who originally destroyed what could have been the Arab empire by stealing Mecca and Medina (and occupying it ever since).

    You guys should have followed king Faisal. He knew where to go. Just imagine the power of a country led by a stable monarchy, guided by a rational religion, free from nationalism, and connected to the west by the Jewish state as per the agreement. It would have been a world power before the cold war had started.

    Instead Nasser and his ilk destroyed the Arab world and tried to take the entire middle east with them.

    One mistake nationalism always makes, for some reason, is to try and get rid of the Jews. It was Hitler’s downfall (because it allowed the Americans to get the nuclear weapoins) and it was Nasser’s downfall.

    Your best economic policies ultimately fail when you have other policies that actively try to get rid of the most educated social groups.

    And the minorities, they do not live in your land. You came to theirs and took it. It is good that you feel responsible for them. But nationalism does not.

    The empire of king Faisal would have. A traditional monarchy does not have a fundamental problem with ruling separate cultures. A nation state based on an ethnicity, however, does.

    Arab nationalism destroyed what was once the greatest culture on earth and could have been one of the leading powers now.

    A huge territory with a common culture and one dominant language understood by almost all (don’t forget that half the Jews of Israel come from Arabic-speaking families), natural resources of all types, Israeli ingenuity, the influx of American and British Jews, vast lands to cultivate, and a position between Europe and India; EVERYTHING GOOD was possible and Faisal and Weizman knew it and the nationalists destroyed it. And for what?

    The first thing the Arab nationalists did was to try and throw the Jews into the sea. Great. Well done. You idiots!

    Where were the people lecturing Arabs about not listening to the west when you needed them?

    All nationalism is eventually supremacism. And one ethnic group is not better than another. It is better to unite around a common cause, a religion, or a king; unless the cause is nationalism, the religion heretical, and the king insane.

  2. abuskander Says:

    You talk too much on things you dont know about. Nationalism = Hatred towards jews? And then you take two cases of someone that declared themselves nationalist? What about the Apartheid in Southafrica who called themselves “Christian Nationalists” but who was a major ally of Israel? Also Nasser and his allies did never hate JEWS neither as a people or as a religion.

    It is quite funny that, as i mention that i do not believe in Nationalism in a supremacist sense, you come and tell me that i do. Do you have something against the fact that there is an Arab Nationalist who does not believe in Arab Supremacism? You should be happy about this rather than just opposing it.

    Have you any idea about how it was like in Egypt under the royal family? Virtually all of the land were managed by very few families. Hunger existed. Housing problems. No welfare system. Well, not in the time of Nasser. His housing laws and agriculture reforms saved the egyptian economy and its people, and ultimately made us a people of pride.

    When you look more on foreign politics, i look more on serving the people. That is the propose of a state.

    Compare this to the monarchies you are so happy about. They are succesful now – when their oil is flowing, but when it stops, they will be in the desert just as there were 200 years ago. The Moroccan monarchy is as opressing as the republics. The Jordanian Monarchy only survive the opposition of the islamist in the sense that they fame themselves as a muslim kingdom as finance many islamic projects, besides that, they are just like all the other countries. Also note that the Jordanian kingdom itself believed in Arab Nationalism on the surface, but betrayed it in the end.

    “Arab nationalism destroyed what was once the greatest culture on earth and could have been one of the leading powers now.

    A huge territory with a common culture and one dominant language understood by almost all (don’t forget that half the Jews of Israel come from Arabic-speaking families), natural resources of all types, Israeli ingenuity, the influx of American and British Jews, vast lands to cultivate, and a position between Europe and India; EVERYTHING GOOD was possible and Faisal and Weizman knew it and the nationalists destroyed it. And for what?”
    – A shameless lie against every arab! We did not destroy this. We did all we could to make it possible, and we failed BECAUSE of people like the King of Jordan and the khaleegi traitors, for whom arab nationalism means “Fight Israel to the last EGYPTIAN soldier”.

    But we achieved much DESPITE this. You may ask what did we achieve? We achieved the Arab spirit that lives on today. It is the spirit who arises every time lebanese villagers are killed by IDF, where egyptian businessmen utters solidarity towards their case despite having nothing to do with it.

    What was once the greatest culture? Sorry, that one was destroyed by christian crusaders, shi3i traitors and mongol invaders 😀

    It was our Arab Nationalism that eventually made Algeria a reality.

    “And the minorities, they do not live in your land. You came to theirs and took it.”
    – Like the jews did in Palestine and yet you say that Arabs are living in Israel, not jews living in Palestine? Following your logic, should’nt the opposite be true?

    And yes, they do live in our land – not meaning that it is not their land as well. That matter is more complex than you can ever imagine.

    One should know that what can save us now is sticking together – we have China getting a bigger and bigger influence in our land, one of the strongest military powers (Israel) just in the middle, a waging Persian expansion and a western culture who more and more are sucking the pride out of us. So even if we assume that your stories are true, we will not be saved by now just by recognizing the existence of Israel and just bow down for others. That might be your dream, but we will never bow down for nobody except God. This is what my Arab Nationalism is about.

  3. Roman Kalik Says:

    I won’t mince words too much: Focus on unity after you’ve solved all the local issues. Arab Nationalism has long been used as a pretext to avoid doing just that, instead focusing on fighting that which did not fit the Arab mold. It forced upon the Middle-East a political reality that did not focus on bettering the situation of the average citizen, but rather on glorifying its political dominance.

    Perhaps it is not the way it should have been, and you seem to agree, Ahmad, but it’s the way it was. And Jordan did indeed only play at being part of the Great pan-Arab Nation – it was left with little choice in the matter. It was that or be ostracized and eventually crushed, such as by those in Syria who still dream of Greater Syria.

    As for Nasser, he may have elevated the common man with his economic system, but he was also the man who gave the entire Jewish community of Egypt a very strong kick on the rear. Other leaders of the pan-Arabic alliance acted in a very similar manner, I must add.

    Again, focus on global unity when you have actually gotten around to resolving the local issues. Otherwise, it will simply be an favorist strong-armed imperial venture again.

  4. abuskander Says:

    In fact in Egypt arab nationalism elevated the possibilities of the average man to a level that was never seen before in our modern history and who has not been seen since.

    It is true that the old Arab Nationalism had different goals than my new interpretation, but it should also be seen in its historical context. This should not be forgotten.

    About Nasser, he also did things that i do not approve of (the whole Al-Azhar tings for an example), but overall he was a leader of a calibre that we have never seen in our modern history, his death were mourned all over the arab world and he was sincere in his struggle to increase the possibilities of the average arab. And about the jews, well yes it was an overreaction based on what we have been witnessed about the egyptian jewish spies during the war. These did exist. But still i regard the loss of our jewish community as a loss, not an achievement.

    The reason i find Arab Nationalism (or solidarity) to be the reason instead of Egyptian Solidarity is that i view our problems so severe that we need each other. Imagine if lebanese ideas, egyptian and sudanese agriculture and khaleegi oil came together in a way that it would raise the life quality of the average arab… wow.

  5. Roman Kalik Says:

    The reason i find Arab Nationalism (or solidarity) to be the reason instead of Egyptian Solidarity is that i view our problems so severe that we need each other. Imagine if lebanese ideas, egyptian and sudanese agriculture and khaleegi oil came together in a way that it would raise the life quality of the average arab… wow.

    These can be achieved with trade agreements, and must depend on the realization of each local government that such agreements will better the lot of the local populace.

    Focus too much on ideas of global unity over improving the lot of your own constitutes, and you end up with the Soviet Union. Trust me, you do *not* want to end up with the Soviet Union, and you very nearly did.

    You cannot force unity.

  6. Roman Kalik Says:

    In fact, I would further say that local governments focusing on trade agreements to better the lot of their average citizens must first be preceded by governments that place the betterment of the lot of the average citizen as the first and foremost goal.

    This has yet to occur.

  7. abuskander Says:

    Who says that we should force it to happen? I very much disapprove of the Soviet Union and i do not want the arab world to unite as their did, that is under one flag, like i already said.

    In some sense we are already united through the Arab League but today this is merely a name. It does not do anything really. We still close our eyes when sudanese are being killed by their state – we even harass them when they arrive as refugees in our countries. Wealthy khaleegi’s still close their eyes when syrians suffer from poverty (even when their own people do).

    “These can be achieved with trade agreements, and must depend on the realization of each local government that such agreements will better the lot of the local populace.”
    – While it is theoretical possible that this could happen, it lacks the common solidarity behind it, that for example make an egyptian feel responsible and wanting to do something about darfurians being massacred.

    The difference between this is the means to achieve a goal. I believe in this mean – the arab nationalism. I believe it is the best way to achieve this goal.

  8. Roman Kalik Says:

    In some sense we are already united through the Arab League but today this is merely a name.

    The Arab League is a joke. I’d laugh, but it brings enough negative notions to the region to make it a very bad joke indeed.

    While it is theoretical possible that this could happen, it lacks the common solidarity behind it, that for example make an egyptian feel responsible and wanting to do something about darfurians being massacred.

    The Soviet Union also dreamed of common solidarity – the common solidarity of the entire world. Erasing ethnic differences by erasing ethnicity, erasing differences of language by erasing languages, erasing economic differences by destroying economy. Erasing cultural differences by building a single culture for all.

    Don’t dream too much of common solidarity, Ahmad. It can lead down a frightening path.

    Common solidarity must evolve, and the first step in this evolution is the common solidarity of the citizens of a single country. You cannot ask people to care too much about people a thousand miles away when their own country is starving and overpopulated – how can people care for others when no one cares about them, in their own country? It is madness, and my family lived through such a madness.

  9. abuskander Says:

    Roman, now please try to understand what i am saying instead of just assuming and keep drawing paralels to the Soviet Union, despite i’ve already said that it is nothing like that. If you like to draw paralels, the most close you can come is the European Union, and even then there might be major differences.

    I do know about the soviet union – when i first arrived in Denmark, i were living in a neightborhood with many immigrants from there – mostly azerbaijanis. The stories i’ve heard was frightening indeed.

    Now i wish this Arab Nationalism, but no where did i say HOW this should be implemented. You (i dont get why?) think i want to make it a state policy all over the Arab World and then just except things to happen.

    No. Changes do not come around that way. Solidarity cannot be forced upon people. Else it is not solidarity. It has to come from below. From the people and up. Not from the state and down.

    If i told you i was dreaming about democracy you would not either expect me to want to bring democracy to Egypt by doing it the way it is being done in Iraq, with a chaos following it.

  10. Roman Kalik Says:

    Ahmad, I understand that you have a different take on unity, but you must understand this – for a new dream to rise, an old nightmare must die. You mean well, but pan-Arabic nationalism in its traditional form still lives, albiet in a dying form.

    You have an utterly different dream, that much is true, but speaking of it just now will make people remember recent history, for better or for worse. They will either support your ideas to rejuvinate their old one, or object to it because it is too similar to the old one.

    And the European Union, I must add, is a fine example of an economic and welfare alliance that came to be through first cleaning up the local mess.

  11. Roman Kalik Says:

    By the way, you said earlier that the old Arab Nationalism did have a single achievement, in the form of Arab solidarity. Well, I must tell you that you brought a good example with the IDF, because this is one of two times when the average Arab feels solidarity with an Arab of another country.

    The other case is when an Iraqi Arab is killed by the US army.

    And when an Arab kills an Arab, when chaos rules the streets, when bombs are a daily reality, that same Egyptian businessman is silent – except when he can blame the US for it all. Or Israel. For that Arab businessman, Hama never happened. Neither did the Anfal campaign. Or Arafat’s two attempted takeovers of Arab countries – once in Jordan, and again in Lebanon. Sudanese endless internal wars are okay, etcetra etcetra.

    The old Arab Nationalism only brought unity through hating the political enemy, the non-Arab, the *other*. This is not real unity, it is rather a unity dependent on the existence of a perceived external threat – which is why Arab leaders had made sure, throughout the past century, to create such an enemy. It was the easiest path, and the consequences of it have yet to go away.

  12. abuskander Says:

    The old “nightmare” will never end until people speak of a new dream.

    The so called Pan-Arabism of today only exist de jure, de facto it is close to not existing.

    One should also keep in mind that much of the “local mess” in the European Union (great poverty in much of Italy for example) came to an end thropugh cooporation. So it is possible to do that. I just hope that now the EU will succeed on doing the same in Romania and Bulgaria, and i am sad to say that i doubt this.

    But you are correct but i still will not say that this is Arab Nationalism’s single achievement. The (though in european standards weak) welfare system of Egypt were another achievement. There are many things that would have created a lot of change, but i will also admit that even though i believe that Gamal Abdelnasser was a very well-meaning man, many of these things also failed.

    And what you are saying pretty good describes what it is like TODAY. But we should seperate between what the ideology INTENDED to implement and what it’s impact became. Also the historical context. Last but not least, do not forget the arab media – it is not like in my life in Egypt heard much about the events in Iraq (what i “knew” was only that some kurds were rebelling and that the state tried to kick the rebellion down, fine by me i thought). The average arab have not much knowledge about these matters.

    In fact the hypocricy that we keep silent when the Sudanese government are assisting militias in killing their own people, but when an old woman is killed by the IDF, we go out in the streets, is something that i have much focus on. If you read my article, i actually refused to mention anything about Israel for this sole propose.

  13. Roman Kalik Says:

    It is not hypocricy, Ahmad. It is cognetive dissonance. Years of living with incredibly restricted and politically-dominated media outlets have led to a reality where it’s easier for people to invent a conspiracy than even consider that an Arab regime can do wrong.

    No, instead people tread down the old thought lines – The Outsider is to blame, not The Arab, and while many Arabs may criticize their government and wish to change it by their set of ideals, that thought line often stops dead when faced with The Enemy, the one who is *really* to blame for everything in their minds.

    It goes beyond recent realities, in my view. I think that any populace that has lived under an imperial and restrictive government thinks down similar lines. Russians often think in the same manner, having grown used (on a cultural level) to a small select group managing their lives on the one hand, and to Great Enemy propaganda on the other. The two then meld into a single theory, a very convenient one for the ruling group.

    Thus blame-shifting and victimization become the norm, as do conspiracy theories. They make living easier. They make thinking simpler. Otherwise, what people grew up with will conflict with what actually happens to such an extent that it may break much of what they thought to be Truth until now – and not that many people are willing, or even able, to handle that.

  14. Assaf Says:

    Andrew,

    I think that the catastrophe that extreme German nationalism brought upon the world has left many Europeans with an unhealthy neurosis about any sort of national expression at all. I remember reading about how the displaying of modern German flags during the recent world cup was very controversial.

    Remember, not all national expression is by right or left wing fanatics. Sane nationalism, not blind or extreme nationalism, is about the belief in your nation’s right to self determination and the pride in its culture, achievements etc. Israel, of course, is a nationalist project and the term Zionist means patriot of the nationalist project and is used by everyone from left wing Palestinian sympathizers to right wing extremists and from secular Socialists to theocractic nut jobs like Moshe Feiglin and everyone else in the middle. To be a nationalist of one’s nation and culture is an important and necessary thing for a country to be successful. And nowhere here did I see Ahmad preach the old kind of Pan Arabism that was so filled with racist ideas.

  15. Assaf Says:

    Ahmad,

    I agree with where you are going here, and I think a sense of collective responsibility for fellow Arabs would help the region, but I think that Roman is correct that it may need to start at the local level first. Recently, the New York times published two stories about the incredible poverty in much of the Egyptian population on the one hand and on the lack of jobs for University graduates and their inability to marry because of it on the other. Obviously, I am not smart enough to solve these problems myself, but it seems that these types of issues would have to be addressed before any sort of EU project in the region would make much of a difference.

    I understand your admiration of Nasser, but cannot share it. His was precisely the kind of Pan Arabism espoused by others which disregarded the rights of indigenous people to the area, who as you noted above do not see themselves as Arabs, such as Kurds, Persians, Jews, Copts, Berbers etc. I also think his military adventurism which lost so much land in the 67 war may have set back the ability for peace for many years (Of course I don’t absolve Israel or the Palestinians for their mistakes either).

    But who knows? Maybe this loss of land needed to occur for the peace to take place later. I guess historians will have to argue over that.

    Lastly, I know a number of formerly Egyptian Jews, and Nasser’s treatment of them was horrific. I have heard other Egyptians argue that this treatment was justified because of a few Jewish spies. I know that you do not make that argument and feel the end of the ancient Egyptian Jewish community was a loss, but I just want to point out that this argument made by those people is the same as Kahane and other Jewish extremists that all Arab citizens of Israel should be expelled because of a few Arab spies and sympathizers with Hizballah etc.

    Spies always exist during states of war and always will, but that was no excuse for the detentions, torture, property confiscations and expulsion which the Egyptian Jews went through. Although they are now proud Americans and Israelis, I thought you might like to know that the older generations always look back at Egypt with nostalgia and love for what they have told me was a paradise on Earth for them.

  16. Assaf Says:

    I should also note that a scholar named Michael Oren has recently said that newly disclosed documents say that Nasser did not in fact want to go to war in 67, but that he was manipulated and lied to by the Soviets to encourage him and that the Soviets also played the Israelis to a certain extent too.

  17. Halalhippie Says:

    Agree w/Assaf: “Sane nationalism, not blind or extreme nationalism, is about the belief in your nation’s right to self determination and the pride in its culture,”

    Nationalism in the sense that seeing my flag be burned hurt more than boycott, threats and embassy burnings.

    There’s a fine line btwn patriotism and chauvinism.

    And AbuSkander: “a western culture who more and more are sucking the pride out of us” I hear that a lot. I am not aware of having any power (economically, culturally or otherwise) over the ME/Arab world. I bet you’ve heard Danes bitching about US cultural domination. Is that how you mean ? We bitch and moan, but at the end of the day we’re still not Americans.

  18. Assaf Says:

    HalalHippie,

    “Nationalism in the sense that seeing my flag be burned hurt more than boycott, threats and embassy burnings”

    As an American with a big Israeli family, I would say that you get used to it after awhile 🙂 At least nobody is harmed when flags are burned and human life is the most important thing. In fact, many in America think that burning the American flag (even by Americans) is protected by the constitution whether we like it or not. American pop culture (or globalization culture) is a problem for Americans as well since traditional culture is falling apart in the process.

    The tension between nationalism and universalism is not one that can ever be totally fixed. But we must try our best to find balance.

    Ahmad,

    I have thought more of your ideas now and i think that they are important but i doubt that the rich Gulf countries would give money to help Egypt and other countries develop. Keep preaching it though and let me know if other Arab thinkers have similar ideas.

    Maybe in the future an alternative regional national organization may be possible, including non-Arabs as well. It seems that a Kurdish state in N. Iraq is going to happen and when peace is done between the Arabs and Israel, that the mix of Israeli knowledge (specifically about desert farming and technology) and Arab wealth and knowledge would make us unstoppable in the global economy. Hopefully, the Persians, Turks Armenians and others would be willing and able to collaborate.

  19. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “You talk too much on things you dont know about.”

    I grew up in a divided city in a country that was destroyed because of its nationalism. And thank G-d it was!

    I don’t know why you assume that I don’t know about nationalism, but I can assure you that I do.

    “Nationalism = Hatred towards jews?”

    (Ethicity-based) Nationalism inevitably creates a spirit of xenophobia. Jews are just the most popular target. But other minorities are usually also targeted.

    “And then you take two cases of someone that declared themselves nationalist? What about the Apartheid in Southafrica who called themselves “Christian Nationalists” but who was a major ally of Israel?”

    The white nationalists in South Africa were just as bad, in philosophy, as other nationalists. Luckily they never went as far as German and Arab nationalists!

    “Also Nasser and his allies did never hate JEWS neither as a people or as a religion.”

    He was pretty good at hiding his pro-Jewish sentiments then. Jews remember him mainly for his treatment of Egyptian Jews and his attacks on Israel, which he tried to destroy BEFORE Israel has committed any of the “crimes” that were later given as an explanation for the attacks.

    No, Abu Skaner, a dictator who tries to “throw the Jews into the sea” and treats his country’s own Jewish minority so badly that they felt they had to leave DOES hate Jews. That’s what hatred of Jews is.

    In fact, in Germany there was a common joke at the time. Note that “Nasser” means “wet one” in German.

    It goes: Hitler didn’t commit suicide but swam to Egypt where he reappeared as Nasser.

    That’s how the Germans in the 1950s understood Nasser.

    If you add Nasser’s anti-Jewish policies to the policies of other Arab nationalist regimes, including further attacks on Israel and attempts to destroy the Jewish state and Iraq’s and Syria’s treatment of their Kurds you get a clear picture of what Arab nationalism means to non-Arabs.

    And if you add the PLO to the mix and the Syrian nationalists and their respective connections to Nazi Germany and the NSDAP, you can see how Israelis and nationalism-critical Europeans might perceive attempts to revive Arab nationalism (or establish a new such).

    If you want Arab unity, that’s fine. But if you use Nasser as an example of how it should be done, better prepare for war with those who do not wish to become victims again.

  20. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “I think that the catastrophe that extreme German nationalism brought upon the world has left many Europeans with an unhealthy neurosis about any sort of national expression at all.”

    Indeed.

    “I remember reading about how the displaying of modern German flags during the recent world cup was very controversial.”

    Yes. And that is a good thing.

    “Remember, not all national expression is by right or left wing fanatics.”

    It might not be, but it is too good a tool to be used by fanatics.

    “Israel, of course, is a nationalist project”

    Zionism is not an ethnicity-based nationalism, it’s more culture-based (like American patriotism). Anybody can become a Jew.

    Zionism also never demanded destruction of another people and the Israeli constitution demanded equal treatment of non-Jewish minorities.

    If Arab nationalism worked in the same way, I wouldn’t be opposed to it.

    Definition of such a type of Arab nationalism:

    1. Anybody can become an Arab. Background doesn’t matter.

    2. Minorities will have full rights and possibly special privileges.

    3. Nasser, Saddam Hussein and their ilk will not be heroes or model leaders but be seen as criminals.

    “And nowhere here did I see Ahmad preach the old kind of Pan Arabism that was so filled with racist ideas.”

    I certainly expect him not to preach the old kind of pan-Arabism. However, his idea that Nasser was a good example of how it could work is scary.

    And his belief that Nasser didn’t hate Jews flies in the face of history.

  21. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “Kahane and other Jewish extremists [said] that all Arab citizens of Israel should be expelled because of a few Arab spies and sympathizers with Hizballah etc.”

    Kahane was a racist idiot and is a good example for the kind of nationalism that I don’t want to see among Zionists.

    However, I believe it was he who said that it is better to have an Israel that the world hates than an Auschwitz that the world loves. He had a point.

    The claim that he wanted Arabs expelled because some of them were spies is of course a nice version of his real sentiments. It’s a good thing he never made it to a position as influential as Nasser.

    But what’s so great about Arab unity anyway? Which particular problem does the Arab world have that can be solved by “Arab unity”?

    Was there a Jewish unit in Nasser’s army? Why not?

  22. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “Verily, an Arab is not better than an ´Ajam (non-Arab), and an ´Ajam is not better than a Arab, except in Taqwa (fearing Allah)”

    That is completely true and it also what the secular nationalists specifically rejected.

    I don’t understand how can believe the above and support the secular nationalists who oppose it.

  23. Andrew Brehm Says:

    “It is the spirit who arises every time lebanese villagers are killed by IDF, where egyptian businessmen utters solidarity towards their case despite having nothing to do with it.”

    Solidarity with Lebanese villagers who would never have been in the line of fire if nationalist Arabs hadn’t decided to attack Israel and force the villagers to remain in their villages when Israel retaliated.

    That’s exactly the type of “solidarity” that I have a problem with.

    I, like you, believe that that “solidarity” is due to Arab nationalism. I just disagree that it is a good thing.

    What’s the point of attacking Israel and then show solidarity with the Arab victims of that war?

    The Egyptian business men who show such “solidarity” with the Lebanese are the same Egyptians who will demand that Israel be attacked again the next day. (And hence the Lebanese village will be bombed again. Very good. Excellent! The spirit of Arab nationalism is alive.)

    Arab nationalism apparently means that the Jews and the Lebanese can kill each other while the Arab nationalist hails from Egypt and makes the one fight the other and show his solidarity by uttering solidarity.

    What’s the difference between the solidarity our Egyptian nationalist shows to the Lebanese villager from whose village the first missile flew and the nationalist’s feelings for the Jewish villager whose house was hit by that missile? In practice it’s nothing since both will have to rebuild their houses without Egyptian help.

    But the reason the two villages were involved in a war was Arab nationalism.

    Wouldn’t the Egyptian business men show more solidarity if they simply build their own two villages somewhere in Egypt and have them duke it out? What’s so great about getting Lebanon and Israel to fight each other?

    If the nationalist loves war, why do others have to fight it?

    “- Like the Jews did in Palestine and yet you say that Arabs are living in Israel, not Jews living in Palestine? Following your logic, shouldn’t the opposite be true?”

    No.

    “Palestine” was a name given to the land by the pagan Romans to erase its connection with G-d. I am not religious, but I see no reason to refer to the land by its pagan name.

    The Bible and the Quran refer to the land in relation with the children of Israel and that is good enough for me.

    Besides, the country there today is named “Israel”, not “Palestine”, formed from a British territory named “Palestine (Land of Israel)”. What’s the point of referring to “Jews in Palestine”?

    If it had been up to either of the groups who want the territory to be named “Palestine”, there wouldn’t be any Jews in Palestine. The Romans named the territory Palestine and expelled all the Jews and the Arab nationalists call the territory Palestine and wanted “to throw the Jews into the sea”.

    “Jews in Palestine” is in a way an oxymoron because those who named the land “Palestine” did so because they didn’t want it to be Jewish.

    I also refer to Arabs in Jordan as “Arabs in Jordan” even though it too was carved out of Palestine.

    Similarly a Lebanese is a Lebanese, and not a “Syrian”, despite the fact that Lebanon was once part of the Roman province of Syria and that Syria claims Lebanon (and “Palestine”).

    I don’t have a problem with Arabs living in Israel (and Judaea and Samara). But I do have a problem with them changing history and refer to the land by a name given to it by pagans to insult G-d.

    I am all in favour of an Arab state in Judaea and Samaria as well, but I would prefer them not calling it “Palestine”, since they are not the sole legal descendant of the Palestine territory the name is ultimately an insult to G-d.

    I would also like them to acknowledge and protect minorities like the Jews in Hevron (and not just expel them like in 1948), but we can’t have everything, can we?

    Incidentally, the Arabs in Hevron seem to have less of a problem with the Jews in Hevron than the PLO and international “peace activists”.

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/125215

    It seems like the Arabs who don’t hate Jews are not so much found among Arab nationalists but rather among local clans who apparently do not feel very “nationalist” as such.

  24. Don Cox Says:

    “Sane nationalism, not blind or extreme nationalism, is about the belief in your nation’s right to self determination and the pride in its culture,”

    This is the basic attitude of the Israelis, the Kurds, the Armenians, the Albanians, the Irish, the Poles, the Slovaks, etc etc etc. But among any of these groups you will find a few crazy xenophobes and paranoids.

    Note that the pride should be in the nation’s culture, not in military victories and conquests. Art, literature, music, dance, architecture, town planning are all things that people can justly be proud of. Scientific and medical research, too.

  25. Don Cox Says:

    “The only way we can [en]counter the economic and cultural dominance of the west and the east is by uniting.”

    No. It is by producing better work. Let’s see an Arab style of music take over the world as Rock did in the sixties. Let’s see an Arab restaurant on every street in the world that has a Chinese and an Indian restaurant. Let’s see an Arab equivalent of Japanese Manga books.

    Let’s see all the great Arab poetry in good translations in every book store.

  26. Don Cox Says:

    “But still I regard the loss of our jewish community as a loss, not an achievement.”

    I’m glad to hear you say that. You are absolutely right. Egypt and Iraq particularly are much worse off without their Jewish communities.

    One of the reasons Britain is still a successful and prosperous country is that it has a flourishing Jewish community – numbering about a quarter of a million, I think. Jews contribute out of all proportion to their numbers.

    If the Arabs had had a grain of sense, they would have encouraged the development of the State of Israel instead of attacking it. After all, compared to the total area occupied by Arabs, it is a tiny patch of ground, mostly desert and with no oil. And the Zionists were ready to pay double the fair price per acre.

    Instead, from 1930 on, the Arabs killed every Israeli Jew they could. Why? Pure anti-Semitism, just like in Europe.

  27. abuskander Says:

    “Instead, from 1930 on, the Arabs killed every Israeli Jew they could. Why? Pure anti-Semitism, just like in Europe.”
    – Not true, we did not do that. It is a lie. It was not due to anti-semitism at all, they were not anti-jewish, but anti-zionist.

    It is like saying that it was anti-Arabist sentiments that made the jews create the state of Israel.

    Andrew:
    You avoid my points and are in fact being to rigid that i will not respond. I do not intend to offend you but it seems to me that you get very emotional in a way that it takes away from you your clear-sight. I recommend you to actually read what i am saying.

  28. Roman Kalik Says:

    Ahmad, it started as purely a national-based objection.

    It ended with hate propaganda. Having the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a bestseller isn’t merely a national issue. Neither is the Syrian Minister of Defense publishing a book supposedly detailing how Jews ritually slaughter children to make matzah.

    The Syrian TV series “Al Shatat” was so classically anti-Semitic that I was wondering if it was the result of Nazis and members of the Spanish Inquisition comparing propaganda notes.

    Ahmad… in many newspapers throughout the Middle-East, the hook-nosed Jew with the evil smile and the blood-soaked hands is the cartoon that the cartoonist later tries to excuse as merely referring to “the Zionists”.

    It started as an attack based on nationalist ideas. It wasn’t where it ended. Where it ended was in a position where the Israeli Jew became so utterly vilified that he became Evil. And thus, he stopped being human in the eyes of the beholder.

  29. Assaf Says:

    Andrew,

    It is interesting to me that you do not see Zionism as an ethnic based nationalism. While the first modern Zionist writer was the religious Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Al-Kalai, his influence was minimal at best for a long time and the political Zionism espoused by Herzl and following European thinkers and activists was a wholly secular ethnic based nationalism based upon a belief that Jewish religion must disappear and that the new nation of Israel would be one based on a wholly ethnic – secular basis, without religion and the goal was to create a nation state, to be “a nation like all the other nations.”

    The early European Zionists were completely ethnic based and did not believe in conversion – which for religious Jews is a conversion of Nation as well as religion. Remember the word Judaism (Yahadut) did not exist in Hebrew until the 19th century and one converted he converted to the Torah of Moshe and the Nation of Israel – Am Yisrael – Nation of Israel. Although the Sephardic Jews believed in both religion and ethnicity as Zionist, only the Mizrahi group in Europe did and they were a small minority of religious Jews in Europe.

    In Israel today, Zionism is an ethnic-religious concept. Of course one might convert, but if one is secular how can he convert to Judaism? Through a bagel test like Yossi Beilin once said? And if one does not want to convert what then? Israel has over 1 million non Jews in it who have difficulties identifying with the national symbols of the country because they see themselves as Arabs etc who have a problem identifying with the national symbols of an ethnic Jewish state. Granted, we Jews of Muslim lands used to identify with our countries even if their flags and governments had Muslim symbols but this does not mean that Israel does not have challenges to overcome with its Arab minority. I mean look at some of the comments at the news story you posted about hebron – some say that any contact with Arabs not involving guns is a hillul Hashem. Does this not prove to you that we have a problem with extreme ethnic nationalism also among our fringes which are as evil to the core as Pan – Arabism? Israel is a wonderful miracle of a reborn homeland for our people but it, like every nation has its problems – problems which I think you overlook because of Blind Nationalism (Forgive me for the term).

    Also, regarding your beliefs about Arab nationalism, non- Arabs become Arabs all the time. Look at what Ahmad wrote in his post as well as the fact that Arab men often marry non-Arab women who then raise their children as Arabs in the countries in which they live in. These children grow up in Arab culture and see themselves as Arab. Palestinians didn’t exist as a specific people until recently, having descended from Rbut the fact that they

    In Ahmad’s idea of nationalism I see no idea to discrimination against non Arabs and if you are concerned about the fact that people like Nasser, who I also believe hated Jews, are seen role models, then realize that you are speaking with someone who grew up in a different culture than you did and try to discuss it with him. Instead I think you should examine your manner (midot) and think about the fact that your style seems to be ranting and attempting to make some one agree with you as opposed to speaking with him as an equal.

    Understand that great Israeli patriots like Dayan, Meir, Rabin, and Sharon are seen by us as great patriots who saved our nation (well maybe not Meir) but who expressed ideas which could be interpreted as racist against Arabs. I am not making any moral equivalence here between most Israelis and the

  30. Assaf Says:

    Andrew,

    It is interesting to me that you do not see Zionism as an ethnic based nationalism. While the first modern Zionist writer was the religious Sephardic Rabbi Yehuda Al-Kalai, his influence was minimal at best for a long time and the political Zionism espoused by Herzl and following European thinkers and activists was a wholly secular ethnic based nationalism based upon a belief that Jewish religion must disappear and that the new nation of Israel would be one based on a wholly ethnic – secular basis, without religion and the goal was to create a nation state, to be “a nation like all the other nations.”

    The early European Zionists were completely ethnic based and did not believe in conversion – which for religious Jews is a conversion of Nation as well as religion. Remember the word Judaism (Yahadut) did not exist in Hebrew until the 19th century and when one converted he converted to the Torah of Moshe and the Nation of Israel – Am Yisrael – NATION of Israel. Although the Sephardic Jews believed in both religion and ethnicity as Zionist, only the Mizrahi group in Europe did and they were a small minority of religious Jews in Europe.

    In Israel today, Zionism is an ethnic-religious concept. Of course one might convert, but if one is secular how can he convert to Judaism? Through a bagel test like Yossi Beilin once said? And if one does not want to convert what then? Israel has over 1 million non Jews in it who have difficulties identifying with the national symbols of the country because they see themselves as Arabs etc who have a problem identifying with the national symbols of an ethnic Jewish state. Granted, we Jews of Muslim lands used to identify with our countries even if their flags and governments had Muslim symbols but this does not mean that Israel does not have challenges to overcome with its Arab minority. I mean look at some of the comments at the news story you posted about hebron – some say that any contact with Arabs not involving guns is a hillul Hashem. Does this not prove to you that we have a problem with extreme ethnic nationalism also among our fringes which are as evil to the core as Pan – Arabism? Israel is a wonderful miracle of a reborn homeland for our people but it, like every nation has its problems – problems which I think you overlook because of Blind Nationalism (Forgive me for the term).

    Also, regarding your beliefs about Arab nationalism, non- Arabs become Arabs all the time. Look at what Ahmad wrote in his post as well as the fact that Arab men often marry non-Arab women who then raise their children as Arabs in the countries in which they live in. These children grow up in Arab culture and see themselves as Arab. Palestinians didn’t exist as a specific people until recently, having descended from Romans , Christians Ottomans and Jews as well as people who emigrated from neighboring Arab countries but the fact that they see themselves as a people now makes a difference. And if you think that I am some leftist peace nownik think again. I am a proud Israeli and American patriot who recognizes that the name Philistine was imposed upon us as a punishment, but realizes that this is their choice to make not ours as to how they name their country if Abbas can get his people in order and the salafi Hamas in check to make peace.

    In Ahmad’s idea of nationalism I see no idea to discrimination against non Arabs and if you are concerned about the fact that people like Nasser, who I also believe hated Jews, are seen as role models, then realize that you are speaking with someone who grew up in a different culture than you did and try to discuss it with him. Instead I think you should examine your manners (midot) and think about the fact that your style seems to be ranting and attempting to make some one agree with you as opposed to speaking with him as an equal.

    Understand that great Israeli patriots like Dayan, Meir, Rabin, and Sharon are seen by us as great patriots who saved our nation (well maybe not Meir) but who expressed ideas which could be interpreted as racist against Arabs. I am not making any moral equivalence here between most Israelis and the anti Antisemitism of the Arab press but what Ahmad is talking about is a need to transcend these prejudices. Pride in one’s nation and people is essential to a healthy progressive country. In fact many scholars say that the humiliation of the treaty of Versailles led to the empowerment of the Nazis. Denying a people their national determination and pride is a recipe for disaster.

  31. Assaf Says:

    Sorry for the double post – I don’t know why it happened

  32. Assaf Says:

    Don,

    The problems of the middle east are many fold, but have a great historical and artistic legacy. Middle Eastern food restaurants exist in most major cities in the world. In fact, Israeli cuisine is made up of a mix of Middle Eastern and European cuisine – although mostly middle eastern influenced by Sephardic Jews – Kubbeh, felafel, shawarmah, foul, and majadarah exist alongside things like shnitzel and borsht. If you have not found a kebab place near you of good food, whether Israeli, Greek, Armenian or Arab keep looking – we Mediterraneans have one of the best, most healthy diets in the world.

    Classical Middle Eastern music is legendary in its beauty. Listen to Umm Kultum or many others like her. In fact, Jews had a great influence on middle eastern music, like creating the Iraqi maqams for example. Popular Israeli music is influenced by the middle eastern heritage and while it may sound cheesy to western ears it has mush ti recommend it.

    As far as literature goes, read the works of Najeeb Mafouz, who was a wonderful writer as well as a supporter of peace with the Jews. It is true that

  33. Assaf Says:

    Don,

    The problems of the middle east are many fold, but have a great historical and artistic legacy. Middle Eastern food restaurants exist in most major cities in the world. In fact, Israeli cuisine is made up of a mix of Middle Eastern and European cuisine – although mostly middle eastern influenced by Sephardic Jews – Kubbeh, felafel, shawarmah, houmous, foul medammes, and majadarah exist alongside things like shnitzel and borsht. If you have not found a kebab place near you of good food, whether Israeli, Greek, Armenian or Arab keep looking – we Mediterraneans have one of the best, most healthy diets in the world.

    Classical Middle Eastern music is legendary in its beauty, although it might not appeal to western ears. Listen to Umm Kultum or many others like her. In fact, Jews had a great influence on middle eastern music, like creating the Iraqi maqams for example. Popular Israeli music is influenced by the middle eastern heritage and while it may sound cheesy to western ears it has much to recommend it.

    As far as literature goes, read the works of Najeeb Mafouz, who was a wonderful writer as well as a supporter of peace with the Jews. It is true that the artistic world of the Arab and Muslim world has been lacking in recent years, but economic depression and corrupt dictatorships seem to leave little time for artistic innovation – even democratic Israel has not achieved its artistic potential because of constant war.

    In poetry, the Arab and Persian cultures have their most pride in their poets. Read the works of Rumi for example – he is a treasure to all world literature in Hebrew and English translation.

    It certainly is funny that an Israeli patriot like myself is defending Arab culture, but it is important to realize that while the contemporary Arab – Muslim world is in a mess, history changes in ways we cannot see and that we do not know where things may lead when the negative traits of our middle eastern culture like tribalism and chauvinism may be transcended.

  34. Assaf Says:

    Again sorry for the double post

  35. Nobody Says:

    Economically, i absolutely support Gamal Abdel-Nasser and his Socialdemocratic politics – this is what saved Egypt.

    all israelis who visited egypt i know came back with stories of shocking poverty, corruption and economic mismanagement that is obvious even to outsiders … i can understand how people can say that pinochet saved chile – chile is expected to be reclassified into the first world country somewhere in the middle of the next decade … but nasserism saved egypt ??? don’t make us laugh

    nasserism was a huge waste of time, resources and soviet aid … and to little avail … no wonder his successors are quietly dismantling his socialist legacy … what does not work – does not work

  36. abuskander Says:

    Nobody: You are speaking to a man who was born in Egypt in Nasser’s era. My parents where both born in the time of the monarchy and i can tell you that Nassers land-reforms and the states policy of providing funds so bread was really cheap saved us and allowed many egyptians to have a car and other things that would never have happended in the Monarchy times who served british interests rather than our own.

    Regarding his sucessors, perhaps it is your view that Egypt per 2008 is better!?

  37. Nobody Says:

    Regarding his sucessors, perhaps it is your view that Egypt per 2008 is better!?

    it’s not so much my personal view as nasserism is generally held to be a failed policy. In fact you wrongly define it as social democracy which it’s not. It’s a well known fact that nasser largely modeled his policies after the Soviet Union and relied on Soviet advisors in economic matters. It’s enough to notice that Egyptian government is still trying to privitize textile industry. Social democracy is not based on nationalizing everything that moves …

    I don’t know what is the experience of your family but if I remember it right Egypt was not only stagnating for decades under its socialist system, but has experienced a decline in absolute terms per capita in some economic indicators. The current government is usually held to be the best Egypt has had in decades but it’s operating under very unfavorable conditions. In fact it may be too late for Egypt.

  38. abuskander Says:

    Fact remains that despite your personal beliefs, the economical conditions of the average egyptian greatly improved under Gamal Abdelnasser, and about the current government – by who is it held to be the best? you? i think many working-class egyptians will disagree on this. there was a reason that the death of Gamal Abdelnasser saddened so many people.

  39. Nobody Says:

    well man … i dont dispose of the statistics for each and every year but lets say egypt is considered quite a textbook case of how the soviet style command economy can stagnate a whole country for generations … i dont know what was happening in the years immediately after nasser started with his socialism but it’s very clear that this system did not take egypt too far … . people who saw egypt say the poverty is atrocious … even gazans who crossed the border during the last breach commented on how poor egypt is even compared to gaza in its current situation …

    in fact i am surprised that in the 21-st century we can still have such debates .. the experience of all countries that tried such policies universally proved that they don’t work … in particular in the arab world which is so prone to nepotism and corruption …

    you are asking who besides me thinks that the current government is the best egypt had in years … i read occasionally the economist, meed, bi-me and other economically oriented sites … you should not think that i am thinking it up … the current government gets a lot of praise in professional circles …. egypt had a very robust economic growth in the last years which is attributed by all sources i read to the recent economic reforms….

    on the other hand all countries around us are under pressure because of the energy crisis … the incoming biofuel revolution driven by the sky high oil prices causes food prices to rise too … egypt is importing both oil and food and so it’s hit twice as hard as others … on top of this egypt seems to be getting overpopulated to the breaking point … 1/3 of the egyptian population is under the age of 15 … this huge mass of people is about to join the current workforce within the next 15 years while the state sector is struggling because maybe up to 1/3 of its workforce is unprofitably employed …. never mind that we have global warming which may devastate agriculture and water resources around the region very soon …

    the current government is doing the right thing but it can’t change the overall situation which is not good … this government has managed to expand economy considerably but most of this growth went into plucking holes … it’s all coming too little and too late …

    you are saying that many egyptians will disagree with me ?? i am not surprised … the arabs have a particular knack to be always stuck in the past … if it’s not islamic khaliphate , then it’s nasserism … and if it’s not nasserism, then it’s saddam hussein … when it comes to falling for hopeless causes the arabs are out of competition …

  40. 1930's egyptian king Says:

    1930’s egyptian king…

    I Googled for something completely different, but found your page…and have to say thanks. nice read….

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