Emplacing the Local
Martin Buber's Two Zionisms and the Question of Palestine

MONDAY NIGHT LECTURE SERIES | EMPLACING THE LOCAL
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 | 4 p.m. | MEMORIAL CHAPEL

JUDITH BUTLER
Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature,
University of California, Berkeley

What is the difference between cultural and political Zionism, and what were the debates that took place prior to 1948 about what Zionism could mean? Although the pre-history of contemporary political Zionism is often regarded as something of interest only to academic historians of Jewish history, it bears direct consequences on how we conceive of co-habitation on the lands of Israel/Palestine. That "backslash" in the last sentence is a rather large problem, and as new debates emerge about statehood for Palestine, one-state and two-state options, the work of Martin Buber becomes salient once again. He argued not only that co-habitation involves bi-nationalism, but that Jewish renewal may well be damaged by a form of Zionism that focuses on a state. Although usually when we ask, "Are you a Zionist?" we mean "Do you believe in the right of the State of Israel to exist?." But the equation of those two questions was very far from the minds of those who debated the political value and limits of Zionist discourse in the early part of the 20th century. This lecture contends that those debates have relevance for our current ones.