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The Battle of Valmy

12:57 PM, Feb 26, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Emmanuel Navon thoughtfully considers Europe, Israel, and the Battle of Valmy:

In his book The New Middle East, Shimon Peres wrote that “In Western Europe, particularist nationalism is fading and the idea of ‘citizen of the world’ is taking hold” (The New Middle East, Henry Holt, 1993, p. 98). It is sadly [ironic] that Peres wrote those lines at the height of a savage nationalistic war in the former Yugoslavia, and shortly after the replacement of Czechoslovakia by two separate nation-states.

Today, ‘Western Europe’ is hardly a continent where people abandon their national identity to become ‘citizens of the world.’ The fact that Cyprus became an EU member in 2004 did not mend fences between Greeks and Turks –if anything it convinced Turkey that it could get away with its occupation of the island. As for Brussels, it might host the European Commission but it also happens to be the capital of a dysfunctional bi-national state that was left without an elected government for nearly two years (between June 2010 and December 2011) because of nationalistic dissentions between the Flemish and the Walloons. . . 

The European Union has indeed succeeded in achieving peace on the Old Continent through economic and political integration. But this success has side effects which are becoming more palpable by the day. For many years, Europeans have claimed that their “peace model” could and should be applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict. With the Middle East turning Islamist and Europe reverting to its pre nation-state age, Israel has good reasons to be skeptical about the European peace model.

Goethe claimed after hearing French soldiers crying “Vive la nation!” after the Battle of Valmy that he had witnessed a new historical era dominated by the nation-state. This era might be coming to an end in Europe, and it certainly is over in the Middle-East. No wonder Europeans view the Jewish state with a mixture of envy and jealousy: Israel is about to become the only nation-state on the bloc and the last soldier fighting the Battle of Valmy. 

Whole thing here.

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