‘Ultra Nationalism’ – An Oxymoron for the Ages

December 28th, 2014

To tell you the truth, I’m sick and tired of watching the equivalent of present-day Nazis hide behind the ridiculous label of “ultra-nationalism’. A person claiming to advocate nationalism from the point of view of a given group is promoting the framer’s view of their identity. Reform efforts still fall within boundaries intended by the framers to permit adaptations to made for the health of the group. Otherwise, individuals might be termed dissidents or even foreign occupiers of a country they wish to remake while retaining the false impression of an unchanged land. An ‘über-national’ is one bent upon erasing the range of thought, action and appearance regarded as natural to a group.

Identity is not threatened by the presence of outside individuals arriving for purposes of tourism, education, commercial enterprise or even asylum. Arrival within the borders of a nation means acceptance of their nature as you pass through. Citizenship is granted based upon a traveler’s ability to learn and adopt a way of life that doesn’t cross that of the host country.

A great deal of present-day controversy is based upon a push towards uniformity of life-style in a manner akin to a “redistribution’ of cultural equivalents, much as some forms of economic policy urges redistribution of wealth. Government after government addresses the definition of marriage, family, religion and economics despite the fact that those falling outside of the traditional views are not persecuted for their differences. The essential expressions of humanity in an upright nation remain intact.

It makes no more sense to attempt to remove the Jewish nature of Israel from its residents than it does to alter Vatican City’s association with Catholicism. Humanity is a species native to earth with sub-groups attached to ways of life that might be akin to a ‘genus’ or recognizable member within the species. Just as you don’t attempt to legislate the gene expression of healthy DNA material, differences should not be dismissed as mere song stylings to be altered for the gig we call ‘Life’. The laws of biology are not up for a vote in a democratic society. Therefore, why expect the nature of a group to be placed on a ballot? Most human rights issues were largely agreed upon in international conventions decades ago.

Is there somehow a dearth of nations in the world that befits the various forms of world cultures? Is there an absence of good will that would deny any disenfranchised group it’s own needs for their expression of unity? The birth of new nations still happens without disbanding older ones.

When New York Times columnist, Roger Cohen, asked the question “What will Israel Become?”, in a recent edition of that paper, I began to wonder how Israel’s identity might possibly have grown vague to anyone remotely acquainted with Jewish history. Just because the rest of the world is in turmoil doesn’t mean the national identity of one of the first nations on the face of the earth has altered significantly. The real questions involve the intentions of other nationals feeling at odds with Israel’s self-assurance. Cohen’s article may be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/opinion/sunday/roger-cohen-what-will-israel-become.html?_r=0

My letter to the editor was as follows:

To the Editor,

The question posed by Mr. Cohen ought not to be what Israel ‘will become’ after some three thousand years of existence. Jewish people may identify as being ‘of Israel’ from any locality. Israelis have the distinction of living in the seat of the Jewish nation/state, regardless of religious identification or degree of secularism. Israel’s vibrancy describes a characteristic of a population that simply refuses to eradicate its own identity to join with other populations presently in decline.

The term ‘Ultra- nationalism’ used in the article is also an oxymoron. National identity is not a form of marketplace competition as in fascism, where ‘ultra’ or ‘über’ pretend-nationalists are bent upon destroying the identities of others within their borders (e.g. ‘Nazism’). With an eye towards the heritage of the Jewish State, remember that no one speaks of the Catholic ‘supremacy’ of Vatican City. No one questions the religious identity of Catholic Spain, despite a strong and growing Moslem minority.

Barbara Rubin
From Jerusalem, Israel

Categories: commentary, Newspaper Commentary, NY Times

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