Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Liberty of Nations

From the WSJ Saturday Essay, 29 Aug 2018, by Yoram Hazony (brief excerpts only - follow the link for the full essay): 

Nationalism is widely denounced today, but its critics overlook its long history as the foundation of limited government and individual liberty and its role in allowing human diversity to flourish

Nationalism is on the rise across the globe. It is key to Donald Trump’s appeal in the U.S. It is the driving force behind resistance to the European Union and its policies in Britain, Italy, Austria, Poland and Hungary. And it is reflected in the success of Narendra Modi in India, Shinzo Abe in Japan and Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel. Even before considering more complicated examples such as Russia, Turkey and China—whose politics have arguably taken a nationalist turn as well—this constitutes a broad revival of nationalist ideals and aspirations.

Many critics see this revival as the greatest political danger of our time. But it is a mistake to think of nationalism as an inherently regressive or destructive political force. In fact, nationalism was the engine that established modern political liberty, and it has been a spur to diversity among nations. It has been embraced by both liberals and conservatives, including revered figures such as Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt, David Ben-Gurion and Mahatma Gandhi, Charles de Gaulle and Margaret Thatcher....

...National cohesion is the secret ingredient that allows free institutions to exist, the bedrock on which a functioning democracy is built. No wonder, then, that no multinational empire has ever been ruled as a democracy. Lacking mutual loyalty, its respective nationalities see one another only as a threat. That was the case in multinational states such as the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Syria and Iraq. In the long run, nothing holds such states together but coercion. In such cases, lifting the oppression of the state doesn’t bring freedom, only dissolution and civil war.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that every national state will have free institutions and protect individual liberties. But even national states far removed from the West—such as India, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan—have succeeded in imitating the English and American precedents. We are still waiting to see a multinational regime that is able to maintain genuine democracy over time....

...Nationalism has its vices and its extreme expressions. Every nationalist movement contains haters and bigots (though not necessarily more of them than are found in universalist political and religious movements). But nationalism’s vices are outweighed by its considerable virtues. A world in which independent nations are permitted to compete freely with one another is a world in which diverse ways of life can flourish, each an experiment in how human beings should live. We have good reason to believe that such a world holds out the best prospects for freedom, for innovation and advancement, and for tolerance.

(brief excerpts only - follow the link for the full essay)

US rejects the "Palestinian Right of Return”

From World Israel News, 25 August 2018:

Report: Trump to oppose Palestinian Ă¢€˜Right of ReturnĂ¢€™
US President Donald Trump and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. 
(AP/Evan Vucci, File)

President Donald Trump will announce the US rejection of the Palestinian “Right of Return” in the next several days, Israel’s Hadashot TV reported Saturday.

The Palestinians claim refugee status for five million people, which includes millions of descendants of the approximately 700,000 original refugees who were living in British Mandatory Palestine, or what is now the State of Israel, and were displaced during the 1948 War of Independence.

These descendants of refugees, supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA), live in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The majority of the original refugees are no longer alive.
“UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as ‘persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.’ The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration,” the Agency states on its website.
The Trump administration has challenged UNRWA’s mandate, suggesting that UN funding instead go to the UN body responsible for all other refugees.
In a recent statement to the Israeli cabinet, echoing the US administration, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an “absurdity” that “there are already great-grandchildren of non-refugees” supported by UNRWA.

The Right of Return has been one of the sticking points in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Israel has a population of close to nine million and sees the influx of five million “refugees” as a threat to its existence.

Trump’s announcement on the Right of Return will be made ahead of the next session of the UN General Assembly in September, the report said.