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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsAs pointed out, one of the ideologies brought to the Middle East in the 19th century by European forces was nationalism, which spread across the Arab world, gaining prominence mainly in the early 20th century. In the second week of the course we saw how the emergence of nationalism in 19th century Europe brought with it questions of national identity and of otherness and belonging. We saw how these questions affected, among other things, the rise of modern forms of antisemitism in Europe. How then did nationalist ideas influence the identities and self-perceptions of the peoples living in the Islamic and Arab world and how did it affect the perception of the Jews?

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsNationalism in many ways, is an imported term, and not only term but notion, because in the past the Turkish, the Ottoman Empire, or any other Muslim Empire, did not differentiate between different nationalities or ethnic groups - they were all under Muslim rule. With the advent of nationalism, new definitions to people had to be a discussed or imposed in different parts of the Muslim world, because people in Egypt - Egypt, felt, for instance, itself as a different political unit from the very beginning, with its special history.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsWhat is known as Turkey today, was also the same thing, and the Arab nationalism. We have, since the late nineteenth century,

Skip to 1 minute and 51 secondsthree different kinds of nationalism emerging in the Middle East: one is Egyptian, one is Turkish and one is Arab. By trying to define who belongs to this nationalism, different groups that felt relatively safe under Muslim rule, started to be excluded from the definition of nationalism, especially when nationalism acquired religion as one of its determinators. And this occurred in the course of the 1930s, 1920s, when really the discussions, the intellectual discussions about nationalism were at their peak. But once you take religion as one of the determinators of nationalism, you in fact exclude many other groups, and one of them is of course the Jews. Originally nationalism was, in many ways, brought by, again, by Christians from Europe,

Skip to 3 minutes and 18 secondsand adapted to the Arab and Muslim societies, but the fact that Islam became one of the elements which are required in order to be a national, or an Egyptian, or an Arab - then you cannot find Jews so much in it. That doesn't say that Jews were not involved in the 1920s, 30s and 40s in the national movements in Egypt, in Iraq, in North Africa in different places, it was not as grave as it developed over the years.

The arrival of nationalism

Dr. Esther Webman

One of the ideologies brought to the Middle East in the 19th century by European forces was nationalism, which spread across the Arab world, gaining prominence mainly in the early 20th century. In the second week of the course we saw how the emergence of nationalism in 19th century Europe brought with it questions of national identity and of otherness and belonging.

How did nationalist ideas influence the identities and self-perception of peoples living in the Islamic and Arab world and how did they affect the perception of the Jews?


References

  • Litvak, Meir, ed., Constructing Nationalism in Iran: From the Qajars to the Islamic Republic (London: Routledge, 2017).

  • Porath, Yehoshua, “Anti-Zionist and Anti-Jewish Ideology in the Arab Nationalist Movement,” in Shmuel Almog, ed., Antisemitism Through the Ages (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989), pp. 217 - 226.

  • Tibi, Bassam, Arab Nationalism: Between Islam and the Nation-State, 3rd expanded edition, (New York: St. Martin’s Press 1997).

  • Webman, Esther, “From the Damascus Blood Libel to the “Arab Spring”: The Evolution of Arab Antisemitism,” Antisemitism Studies, vol. 1, no. 1 (Spring 2017), pp. 157 - 206.

  • Wien, Peter, Arab Nationalism: The Politics of History and Culture in the Modern Middle East (London: Routledge, 2017).

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

Yad Vashem

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