Nationalism: The Religion of the 20th Century

I always thought that nationalism is a disease. In a place like Palestine, this thought borders on blasphemy. "Al-wihdeh Alwataniyeh" or national unity has for long been treated like a sacred religious ritual and, as is the case with such rituals, we don't know what it means, its implications or what is it really that we should do about it. We just hold the banners of national unity and wander the streets of Ramallah, and chant for it.
Tomorrow, the PA will have its first National Unity Government. In this case, it is less than a unity and more of a Sudanese-style power sharing (Haniyeh being AlBashir, and Azzam Ahmad being Silvakeir). Will this government lead us out of the current situation? will it end the fighting? the lawlessness? the sense of disorientation into which we have fallen?(it just struck me- did we ever have an orientation? did we ever know where we were going?) I doubt that the long lasting law will be broken: Nothing ever changes here- if it does, then to the worst!

Nationalism often robs a people of its intelligence even as it grants that people a sense of dignity.
We have for long ceased to look at the root of the problem. The actions of our leaders seem to be detached from anything that is happening on the ground. This is the legacy we had after 38 years of Arafatism, and now our hopes that it will go with him are fading away.

My problem with Nationalism is its exclusiveness. If you are a nationalists you are bound to view humans of other nationalities differently, just like a religious person is bound to view those of other religions differently. You are bound to feel that your comfort is worth more than their, your ideas are more important than theirs, you might come up to a conclusion that your blood is worth more than theirs even. This, is the real problem of Palestine/Israel, and probably of the whole world. You become indifferent to others because, simply, they are not Palestinians, or Israelis or Chinese or....

In Palestine, we are witnessing first hand what this means, we suffer through it. We see our wealth stolen away, because others want to use it. Our water is taken away then sold back to us 4 times more expensive than to our neighbour settlement. Our life taken away, because it is more convenient for the soldier in the 12 meter high grey tower.

Nationalism, in whatever context, is racism! Believe it or not. The thing is, in other national states, there are small minorities who are not part of the national majority group and hence, they don't constitute a threat to the country, so countries are more able to provide them with their rights. In countries were there are more than one national group, there is bound to be a fight between them because nationalist sentiments strip people from the ability to see their counterparts as humans: They start seeing them as republicans or loyalists, Palestinians and Israelis, Black and white etc... And this causes the problems.

When John Lennon Imagined a different world this is what he was talking about.

Now the religion of the 20th century is advancing strongly into the 21st century, and now it is combined with the even more dangerous "divine religions" leading to an unholy mix of exclusion, racism and violence.

This is why I believe we should not fight our struggle in Palestine on the platform of Nationalism. You can't simply accuse the other side of being wrong when you are intending to do the same thing. We have to fight this struggle on a platform of justice and equality.

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