The Religion & Culture Web Forum
Martin Buber's Land of Two Peoples
University of Chicago
In the preface to the new edition of A Land of Two Peoples, Professor Mendes-Flohr reflects on Martin Buber's principles of inclusion and the challenge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Buber argues that the challenge facing the Zionist movement is not only to acknowledge the presence of Arabs in the Land of Israel but to honor their opposing national and political claims. In accommodating these claims, it is therefore not simply sufficient to live "next to one another" (nebeneinander) but "with one another" (miteinander). There are concrete steps that should be taken in this direction—to learn Arabic, to gain an appreciation of the customs and culture of the Palestinians, but first and foremost, to cultivate a sympathetic knowledge of Palestinian claims. In delineating these tasks, Buber was naturally addressing his fellow Zionists, who in his judgement had the historical and political responsibility to initiate the process of rapprochement. Ideally, the Palestinians would undertake reciprocal gestures of accommodating the Jewish reality in Palestine. As important as these gestures are, Buber realized that they did not touch the heart of the conflict. The Jews and Arabs have radically divergent national and political interests with respect to the land they by force majeure share.
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