Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Catalonia and Kurdistan:
Breaking Nation States Into Smaller
Entities and the One-World Government
By Uri Avnery
October 10, 2017
Kurds voting for secession from Iraq, on September 25, 2017
Separation is Beautiful
JUST IMAGINE: A new movement among the Mizrahim is born in Israel.
It declares that all the existing organizations of Mizrahim
(Oriental Jews) are phony. That they are all instruments of the
Ashkenazi (European Jewish) elite to keep the Mizrahim in subjugation.
That the Oriental Shas party is a joke, especially since the death of
Rabbi Ovadia Josef, who was an authentic Mizrahi leader.
the Likud is the most cunning instrument for keeping the Mizrahim down.
That the endless rule of Binyamin Netanyahu, the very personification of
the Ashkenazi elite, symbolizes the powerlessness of the ignorant
Mizrahi masses, who keep him and his entire Ashkenazi gang in power.
SO a new Mizrahi party is set up, led by energetic young people who
put forward a shocking revolutionary idea: separation.
plan is to partition the State of Israel along the Jaffa – Jerusalem
road, dividing the country into two halves. Everything north of the
dividing line will remain the property of the Ashkenazis, everything
south of it will become the new sovereign Mizrahi state, to be called
From there, your imagination can lead you
anywhere you want.
WHERE WOULD I stand in such a situation?
Asking myself seriously, I find myself in a very ambiguous situation.
I am an Ashkenazi. As Ashkenazi as you get. I was born in Germany.
My family had been there for ages. But I never defined myself as such.
The very idea of being "Ashkenazi" is completely alien to me.
More so, I have a very deep attachment to the Mizrahi society. I had it
even before four young recruits from Morocco risked their young lives to
save my life in the 1948 war. I was attached to Oriental culture from
So, confronted with a vigorous Oriental
separation movement, where would I stand? Frankly, I do not know. I
certainly would not send the Israeli army and police to put it down.
That would be impossible anyhow, considering that most soldiers and
police are themselves Mizrahim.
Fortunately, the whole idea is
preposterous. Can't happen. Even less than Kurdish or Catalonian
CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, the Kurds and the Catalans are two
peoples I have always liked.
I don't know when I started to like
the Kurds or why. In my youth, Kurds were considered nice but primitive.
The saying "Ana Kurdi" (Arabic for "I am a Kurd") meant that I am a
simple person who fulfills his task without asking questions.
Jewish immigrants from Iraqi Kurdistan spoke of their former hosts with
affection – unlike most Jewish immigrants from other countries.
In the 1950s I came to know a semi-clandestine cell of Egyptian Jewish
émigrés in Paris. They assisted the Algerian struggle for independence –
a cause which I fervently supported myself. Its leader was Henri Curiel,
and one of its members was a young Egyptian Jewish woman, Joyce Blau,
who was also an ardent supporter of the Kurdish cause. This was also the
field of her academic studies.
Through her, I learned more about
the Kurdish story, or tragedy. Though Kurdistan is a compact territory,
it is divided into pieces that belong to different states – Turkey,
Iran, Iraq and Syria, with more communities dispersed in other
At the end of World War I, there was an effort to set
up a Kurdish state, but the rapaciousness of the victors and the
re-emergence of a strong Turkey made this impossible. The Kurds
themselves were not completely blameless: they were and are consistently
unable to unite. Their leading families act against each other.
After having set up the "Israeli Council for Algerian Independence", I
found an Israeli group of immigrants from Iraqi Kurdistan and together
we founded the "Israeli Council for an Independent Kurdistan".
As a member, I had some unforgettable experiences. Twice I was invited
to address mass meetings of Kurds in Germany. Mass meetings in the
literal sense: huge numbers of Kurds from all over Europe cheered my
speech, quite a boost for my ego.
My efforts petered out when I discovered that
high-level Israeli army officers were already in
Iraqi Kurdistan, helping to train the
Peshmerga ("Before Death") guerrillas. The motive of the Israeli
government in sending them there was quite cynical:
to undermine the Iraqi state,
according to the eternal Roman maxim "Divide et Impera", divide and
How did they get there? Easy, they were
under the benevolent protection of the Shah of Iran. But one day the
Shah made peace with Saddam Hussein, and that was the end of this
particular Israeli project. When the Shah was toppled and Iran became
Israel's deadly enemy, Israeli military intervention in Kurdistan became
But the sentiment remains. I believe that the Kurds
deserve independence, especially if they are able to unite. Since they
are blessed – or cursed – with oil riches, foreign interests are deeply
THERE IS no similarity whatsoever between the Kurds
and the Catalans, except that I like them both.
Catalonia is a
highly developed country, and during my several short visits there I
felt quite at home. Like all tourists, I strolled in the Rambla of
Barcelona – both Hebrew names, so it seems. They are remnants from the
times when Spain was a colony of Carthago, a city founded by Semitic
people from Phoenicia, who spoke a kind of Hebrew. Barcelona is probably
derived from Barak (lightning in Hebrew), and Rambla from the Arabic
Trouble is, I also love other parts of Spain,
especially places like Cordoba and Sevilla. Would be a pity to break it
up. On the other hand, one cannot really prevent a people from achieving
its independence, if it wants to.
Fortunately, nobody asks me.
THE LARGER question is why smaller and smaller peoples want
independence, when the world is creating larger and larger political
It looks like a paradox, but really isn't.
this generation are witnessing the end of the nation state, which has
dominated world history for the last few hundred years. It was born out
of necessity. Small countries were unable to build modern mass
industries which depended on a large domestic market. They could not
defend themselves, when modern armies required more and more
sophisticated weapons. Even cultural development depended on larger
So Wales and Scotland joined England, Savoy and
Sicily created Italy, Corsica and the Provence joined France. Small
nationalities joined larger ones. It was necessary for survival.
History is moving on, and now even the nation-State is not large enough
to compete. States unite in ever-larger units, such as the European
Union. I have no doubt that by the
end of this century, there will be in place an effective world
government, turning the entire world effectively into one state.
(If some extra-terrestrials threaten this world, it will help.)
So how does the separation into smaller and smaller states fit this
trend? Simply, if the state of Spain is not necessary anymore for
economic and military purposes and its central functions are moving from
Madrid to Brussels, why shouldn't the Catalans and the Basques secede
and join the Union under their own flags? Look at Yugoslavia, look even
at the Soviet Union. Germany is the great exception but it is quite
large by itself.
The two processes are not contradictory, they
complement each other.
The idiotic Brexit is ahistorical. But if
the Scots and the Welsh want to separate from England, they will
I have great respect
for the power of nationalism. In our era, it has proven,
to be stronger than religion, communism or any other creed. It is
strongest when it combines with religion, as in the Arab world. So the
nationalism of small peoples will gain satisfaction in football games,
while the real business will be conducted elsewhere.
very moment, the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, is busy with enacting
a new law, called the Nation Law, which is intended to make clear that
the Jewishness of the Jewish State takes precedence over democracy and
Israel has no constitution, but until now it was
assumed that Israel was equally "Jewish" and "democratic". The new law
is about to abolish that notion.
As usual, we are one or two
centuries behind world history.
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