Martin Buber on Palestine and Israel (with Postscript)

The eminent Zionist scholar and Jewish philosopher Martin Buber (1878-1965) said to  the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore in 1926 that the Jewish purpose should be:


“pursuing the settlement effort in Palestine in agreement, nay, alliance with the peoples of the East, so as to erect with them together a great federative structure, which might learn and receive from the West whatever positive aims and means might be learnt and received from it, without, however, succumbing to the influence of its inner disarray and aimlessness.”


(This was part of a letter to the New York Times I wrote on January 23 1995 from Scarsdale where I lived at 36 Lynwood Road, the house of an aunt, for two years or so, while working in Greenwich and battling in the Ninth Circuit and US Supreme Court in a battle against racism and corruption that continues to this day.)


Postscript January 23 2008:


I had lost the reference to these words of Martin Buber.  I have now found them again thanks to Dr Martin Kaempchen:


Dear Dr Roy,

The quote by Martin Buber is indeed in my book, viz. in the short essay „A Talk with Tagore“. In my „Rabindranath Tagore and Germany: A Documentation“ (Max Mueller Bhavan, Calcutta 1991), the quotation is on page 96. `The original German essay is titled „Ein Gespräch mit Tagore“ (Martin Buber: Nachlese. Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg 1965, 202-204.) The English translation is to be found in the periodical „India and Israel”. vols. X/XI, 1950. Special Recognition Issue 15.10.1950, p.18 (no translator mentioned). So, the quotation is not in a letter to Tagore; and the essay was not written in 1926 (when the meeting between Tagore and Buber took place in Prague), but in 1950, as the beginning of the essay bears out. I hope this will help you. With my best wishes, Martin Kaempchen”


2 Responses to “Martin Buber on Palestine and Israel (with Postscript)”

  1. Jay Janson Says:

    Neturei Karta International Orthodox Rabbis For A Single State Solution
    Monday, January 12 2009 @ 07:09 PM EST
    Contributed by: jay janson
    Gentle anti-Zionist rabbis are purposely ignored by conglomerate owned media. Neturei Karta has steadfastly continued the warning of Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, Erich Fromm and so many Jewish intellectuals against Partition. Their idea is Jews can have their homeland in a single Palestine state for all, and lead it with their expertise, wealth and influence without having to kill, or be killed, or take anyone’s land.

    Neturei Karta rabbis sound so straight-forwardly honest, clear and humanist by comparison with all the twisting and turning by apologists for an undeniable amount of Zionist brutality that has a history that predates the unfair partition forced upon the entire population of British occupied Palestine by the colonial powers, ashamed of their indifference during the Holocaust. A history that can be read in the Encyclopedia Britannica and in Noam Chomsky’s “The Fateful Triangle”.

    From Neturei Karta International – Jews Against Zionism web site

    “The true Jews are against dispossessing the Arabs of their land and homes. According to the Torah, the land should be returned to them.” The world must know that the Zionists have illegitimately seized the name Israel and have no right to speak in the name of the Jewish people!”

    Neturei Karta International’s orthodox rabbis are for a single state solution.

    “Neturei Karta statement, “Zionist Massacre in Gaza, January 2008”

    ‘We implore you to convey the message to the people in Gaza and Palestine, that there are untold thousands of Jews worldwide and in Palestine who stand with you and who entirely oppose Zionism and the state of “Israel” and bear no responsibility for the actions of the Zionists. … May we merit to see soon in our days, the total, speedy and peaceful dismantlement of the state of “Israel”.

    Assalam Alaikum, Very truly yours,
    Rabbi Moshe Dov Beck, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, USA, Canada
    Rabbi Meir Hirsh, Palestine, Rabbi Ahron Cohen, United Kingdom”

    Their idea is Jews can have their homeland in a single Palestine state for all Palestinians, and lead it with their expertise, wealth and influence without having to kill and be killed or take anyone’s land.

    Though, for all the blood spilled, most people, even dissidents, regard Neturei Karta’s one-state solution as impossible, candid observation reveals no plan for a fair and viable two state solution from the Israel government. At least Neturei Karta is truthfully visionary.

    That the strong shall show their strength by protecting the weak.

    Neturei Karta cautions, “Don’t think you are helping Jews by supporting the state of Israel.” Neturei Karta rabbis in Israel designate their residence as “Occupied Palestine Territory”.

    Israel’s prowess in progress has the aspect of a continuing sequel to, or at least an aftermath of, or some kind of aberrantly permissible constant payback for, the European Holocaust, but in a land holy to three religions and the ancient history of many peoples, not just one, thousands of miles in distance and nearing to a century in time from the horrors of Nazi Germany?

    None of these dead children of the Seventh Day Hanukkah campaign was destined to ever have been a grown man or woman. Rather, the impersonal destiny of each child was to be a tiny percentage of the pre-calculated and acceptable minimum loss of human life in an appropriate retaliatory response in which no individual was considered to have any human rights at all by either side.

    In an appropriate retaliatory response, each child’s death becomes appropriate.

    But if super power Israel is not strong enough to respect individuals human right to life, what shall we expect from those who are so much weaker?

    And how shall the world react to all members of Hamas being designated as terrorists deserving of death, when it remembers that various past and present officials of the state of Israel were leaders of the Irgun or Stern Gang terrorist organizations, yet were forgiven.

  2. drsubrotoroy Says:

    I have recently said here that I think the “Three state solution” is the only feasible one at present, with Egyptian sovereignty extending to Gaza and Jordanian sovereignty extending to the West Bank. The Palestinians will remain divided over three countries but at least they will be able to survive (and perhaps flourish as a culture) and not be attacked.

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