Israel passed early Thursday a controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that “the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” sparking outrage from Israel’s Arab community and provoking concern from the international community.
Elsewhere in the same pages of Ha’aretz you’ll find denunciations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cordial relations with Hungarian nationalist hero Victor Orban.
The old notion of a natural affinity of democratic states still issues from neoconservative circles, where it’s used in bad faith to prompt wars ultimately on behalf of Israel, and is still bought-into by the great gullible center of respectable American punditry and politicians, but has never been particularly true. The real motive force behind democracy promotion has always been opening up of markets controlled by states resisting globalization. Let the multinationals and waves of migrants into your country, give Israel no trouble and a gloss of “democracy” will do fine.
Conversely, nationalism, being opposed to migrants and the exploitation of foreign companies–but not democracy, the way by which it is most often arrived at–is a problem in and of itself. Even a gloss of nationalism as phony as that of democracy in most places is a problem for the global order, in that it legitimizes this barrier to global capital and demographic molding.
There is a new global affinity, not promoted from above by leaders with questionable motives but emerging from popular will, toward nationalism. Eastern Europe, Israel, Russia, Trump’s America, all have a natural, if limited, affinity that has more legitimacy and urgency.
Israel even codified its own form of manifest destiny
The nation-state law also includes clauses stating that a “united Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country’s official language. Another says that “the state sees the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation.”
The problem with the fallacy of a natural alliance of global democracies is that national interest isn’t changed by voting–on the contrary. Voters may occasionally be stupid, but they never would vote so clearly against their interests–for instance in the case of Angela Merkel’s disastrous opening up of Germany to hordes of Muslim future voters.
Nationalism simply makes frank and clear the interests of a nation and thus allows it to pursue them. In a global community of nations forced to be (somewhat more) honest and upfront about their intentions we would probably have less war and less exploitation of weaker nations. The sort of thing democracy promotion was supposed to provide.