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    Israel as a node-state: redefining the diaspora relationship

    By Noreen Bowden | June 9, 2009

    Israel can be conceptualised as a ‘node-state’ at the centre of a diasporic network, according to an article on Ariel Beery notes that Israel differs from the typical nation state, in which a government brings together a variety of ethnic groups living within its borders:

    The State of Israel, in this way, was doubly special – first because it claimed to be the state of the Jews even as the majority of the Jewish nation still lived outside its boundaries, and second because it had no desire to integrate other, non-Jewish groups among its citizenry into the Jewish nation. Israel has thus been criticized for not behaving like a classic nation-state. But it might also be wrestling with a challenge a bit ahead of its time: the separation of citizenship and residency, of state and nation.

    If Israel is no nation-state, it might be more useful to think of it as a node-state – that is, as the sovereign element chosen by narrative and collective will at the center of a global network. Whereas the entire network is interdependent its center is currently restricted by our theory to operate as a nation-state. That is to say, the State of Israel might benefit from the global network, but in its functioning, most of its focus has been on basic domestic operations only, which affect only a small set of nodes on this network, and it permits only a minority of its network members to elect representatives whose decisions will affect the network as a whole. For example, even though Israel’s financial health depends just as much on foreign investment as it does on domestic production, it is the residents that determine the economic policy that affects the return on those investments – and thereby the network’s overall health. As populations shift, this same network effect facing Israel will face other nations as well.

    Beery notes the importance of new thinking to deal with the reality of the need for a transformed relationship between Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. He quotes Ehud Olmert’s vision of the relationship: “We must stop talking in terms of big brother and little brother, and instead speak in terms of two brothers marching hand in hand and supporting each other.”

    This new thinking is being addressed by the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, which has been charged with the development of a new strategy for fiscal and programme relations with the diaspora, with the goal of strengthening Jewish identity.

    This idea of the nation-state giving way to a node-state has implications for a country like Ireland, which says in its constitution, “the Irish nation cherishes its special affinity with people of Irish ancestry living abroad who share its cultural identity and heritage.” With millions of Irish citizens living abroad, and with efforts to enhance the relationship between Ireland and the diaspora and Ireland on the increase, it could be argued that Ireland, too, may be moving toward a node-state (albeit, I hope, a more inclusive one than Israel’s, which excludes some in its territory from citizenship).

    Could Ireland be reconceived as a node-state including all on the island of Ireland, plus the 1.2 million Irish-born abroad, and the 70 million in the diaspora? And what would that mean in practical terms?

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    Topics: Latest News | 1 Comment »

    One Response to “Israel as a node-state: redefining the diaspora relationship”

    1. Charter for a New Ireland revisions Ireland as global nation | – about Irish emigration and the diaspora Says:
      January 28th, 2010 at 7:05 pm

      […] I’ve copied below) reminds me of most is the “node-state” notion of Israel (which I’ve noted in the past). As with the Israeli “node-state” idea advanced by Ariel Beery, this vision decouples […]