It is almost twenty-five years ago that I was writing a doctoral thesis on Martin Buber (1878-1965). There is little doubt that Buber was one of the most influential Jews of the 20th century. More than 2000 people turned up for his funeral. Buber was a leading Biblical scholar, philosopher, political theorist and activist.
Buber was a German Jew who argued strongly for the revival of cultural Zionism but opposed political Zionism. Buber challenged, in 1921, Chaim Weizmann (President of the Zionist Organization) for doing too little to foster good relations with the Arabs. Buber’s classic work, I and Thou, was published in 1922, and in many ways this wise missive anticipated the way the Nazis would treat the Jews (as objects to be exterminated) and the way Jews would treat the Palestinians. Buber fled Germany in 1938, and settled in Palestine where he was given a distinguished teaching position at the Hebrew University.