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A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs Hardcover – 14 Jul 1983

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"One of the most important books to document the early Zionist opposition to Jewish state sovereignty.... A Land of Two Peoples tells a history of a cohabitation that could have been, one that so many people, even in Israel, no longer clearly remember. This should be read by everyone who seeks a vision of peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians." - Judith Butler" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Martin Buber was professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he taught courses in anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and Hasidic and biblical studies. He is best known for his book I and Thou. Paul Mendes-Flohr is professor of Jewish studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and professor of modern Jewish thought in the Divinity School, the Department of History, and the Committee on Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Moving and Vital 10 April 2008
By LekhLekha - Published on
Format: Paperback
Reading this book is like being struck by lightning.

It consists mostly of occasional pieces by the great German-Jewish "philosopher of dialogue" Martin Buber, who moved to Palestine in 1935 (rather late in the game). He was involved in the Zionist movement from the very start, however -- Herzl even put him in charge of editing Die Welt. Of course, he was always a "cultural" rather than "political" Zionist, and quickly lost his taste for the politics of Zionist Congresses.

Still, reading through this book, and becoming aware of the wisdom, compassion, and yes, political perspicuity with which Buber responded to the events of the day, one cannot resist the temptation to imagine how things might have gone if more people had listened to him.

As I said, Buber moved to Palestine late, but like many Zionists in the early twentieth century, he editorialized from afar. The timespan of the essays is wide, and one can see Buber's reactions to events such as the 1929 riots and the Arab Revolt of 1936-39. One of the most interesting aspects is Buber's polemic against the Zionist far-right and the lens through which it interpreted such events. Buber believed in the prophecy of Isaiah that it was only "B'Mishpat," with justice, that Zion could be redeemed, and opposed any conception of settlement that would commit Zionists to eternal enmity or warfare with the present inhabitants. He, and the rest of Brit Shalom, favored approaching the Palestinian Arabs, and getting a declaration from them, rather than settling under the aegis of British imperialism -- even if that meant temporarily reducing the numbers of Jews who could immigrate. At the same time, however, Buber resisted the Kantian moral purity of colleagues such as Hans Kohn, who resigned from the Zionist movement once he saw that it was implicated in violence. Buber argued that responsible engagement on behalf of the Jewish people meant acting to the limits of justice in the given situation.

Prof. Mendes-Flohr's introductions provide excellent background as well as a clear outline of Buber's much-neglected political theory, which might best be described as a kind of Jewish Biblical pragmatism or realism -- akin perhaps to the thought of Reinhold Niebuhr, but with a definite tilt to the left.

There is much more I could say about this work. Reading it opened up the world of pre-state Palestine for me in a way I had not thought possible. It formed an entry point for me into the morass of contested history and politics that the discourse on the conflict has always been. An attack on Buber's political work and thought has been written by Yoram Hazony under the title "The Jewish State." The problem with the attack is, mainly, that once having directed the reader to the source, it is Buber's own words that retain the ring of truth.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating essays about Israel 13 Aug. 2005
By Jill Malter - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. Buber's intelligence and sincerity are on display throughout it. Of course, I disagree with much of what Buber says. I'm a Polytheist, and I do not like Monotheistic religions. And I find some of Buber's advice to Israelis to be puzzling at times. Even after the British White Paper of 1939, he thought a Levantine Jewish state unnnecessary, although he admitted that most Levantine Jews disagreed. Still, one can see in these essays how he's always interested in equal rights, including rights for Jews that are neither more nor less than those of others.

I know that some Zionists are more than a little suspicious of Buber. But please try reading Mohandas Gandhi's 1938 article, "The Jews." I consider that article a vicious repudiation of human rights. Then read Buber's calm and dignified response to it.

I know that many anti-Zionists like to cite Buber. But I would advise them to copy his honesty and sincerity, traits I have been seeing far too little of from modern anti-Zionists. In my opinion, Buber would have been more than a little hesitant to excuse, let alone support, Arab aggression and slander, all in the name of equal rights.
What could have been ... and what still might be ... 15 Feb. 2013
By Brother Hamza Philip - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I had seen Martin Buber's books on the shelves of used book stores, I didn't know anything about him except that he was a philosopher until I read Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book Jewish Literacy, a book I recommend for reading by Jews and non-Jews alike. What attracted me to Martin Buber was his interest in Hasidic Judaism and his Zionism - which called for one state in the Holy Land where Jews and Arab Muslims and Christians would work together and live as equals. Unfortunately, that did not come pass. Certainly, there were some Zionists and some Arabs that did not want it to come to pass for various reasons. I really don't see any way out of the mess in the Middle East except for a one state solution. Yet, there are many on both sides of the issue who still would not like to see this come to pass. Probably, someone like myself who would like to see only one state in the Middle East where Jews and Arab Muslims and Christians see each other as equals and work for the common good of each , might be viewed upon with suspicion by those on both sides who do not want this, but that won't stop me from hoping and praying...

In the introduction of the book, the compiler of The Land of Two Peoples discusses how Martin Buber was not the only Zionist who was concerned for the Arabs living in the Land. That was a point I had not considered previously. However, as time went on, some Zionist decided that the needs of the Jews, especially after the crimes of the Nazis, led to Jews having a much greater need than the Arabs. And the rest is history.

Although I don't agree with many aspects of how the state of Israel came into being, I don't have any problem with Jews wanting to live safely in the Land. Of course, I believe the Arabs deserve the same thing. One reviewer spoke of Arab lies. From where I sit, I see lies coming from some Arabs and non-Arabs, and lies coming from some Zionists, including non-Jewish Zionists. Dehumanizing the other side only leads to more suffering and death. Divine Justice in all three major Abrahamic religions demands that this come to an end. Martin Buber does an excellent job communicating this by incorporating his Jewish Heritage and philosophy into his speeches.

I believe Jews and Arabs and others should read this book. However, if hatred of everyone in an ethnic group or religion is incorporated into one's religious views, a book like this one may not have much effect. Some modern fundamentalist Evangelical Christians have adopted a view of last things (Eschatology) that did not exist until the 1820's. This, of course, is classic Dispensationalism, developed by an Anglican priest named John Darby, who later joined the Plymouth Brethren, a separatist British Christian sect. Many Dispensationalists, Christians who believe the Church Age is not a New Covenant, but rather a parenthesis in time, believe that time of Israel was with the First Jewish Revolt in 70 CE and will start again 7 years before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Only 144,000 Jews will be saved after true Christians are "raptured" out of this world. All other Jews will be lost. After the Rapture, the Anti-Christ will cause a treaty between Jews and Palestinians to be signed, which the Anti-Christ will break after 3.5 years. This signing begins the Great Tribulation. Of course, various Dispensationalists scholars have tweaked the teachings since they first were taught, but the Classic view is still very popular. These fundamentalist Christians have some political power in the USA, and of course they support Israel as a Jewish state over the Palestinians, but see only 144,000 Jews becoming Christians after the Anti-Christ breaks their treaty, so the vast bulk of the Jews burn in Hell for Eternity with their Arab brothers/opponenents (take your pick). Is this the plan of Divine Justice? Or the plan of some humans? But I digress ...

I truly believe Martin Buber desired a win-win situation for Jews and Arabs, and that a one-state solution is the only way this will ever come to pass. Give Martin Buber a read, and do some soul searching (both Jew and Arabs, and not just those groups, but everyone else).
A path to peace. 6 Sept. 2014
By Peter F. Spalding - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the Arab/Israeli confrontation should read this book. Buber's wisdom will lead you to an appreciation of what a path to peace in the Middle East looks like. The latter is not an impossible possibility.
Essential reading for those hoping and working for peace 27 April 2013
By Rev. Anthony S. D. Graham - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Now it's agreed that the two-state solution has been made impossible by settlements, Israelis and Palestinians have got to share the land. That was the ide in the first place!
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