Judah Magnes: The Prophetic Politics of a Religious Binationalist David Barak-Gorodetsky Author
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This comprehensive intellectual biography of Judah Magnes--the Reform rabbi, American Zionist leader, and inaugural Hebrew University chancellor--offers novel analysis of how theology and politics intertwined to drive Magnes's writings and activism--especially his championing of a binational state--against all odds. Like a prophet unable to suppress his prophecy, Magnes could not resist a religious calling to take political action, whatever the cost. In Palestine no one understood his uniquely American pragmatism and insistence that a constitutional system was foundational for a just society. Jewish leaders regarded his prophetic politics as overly conciliatory and dangerous for negotiations. Magnes's central European allies in striving for a binational Palestine, including Martin Buber, credited him with restoring their faith in politics, but they ultimately retreated from binationalism to welcome the new State of Israel. In candidly portraying the complex Magnes as he understood himself, David Barak-Gorodetsky elucidates why Magnes persevered, despite evident lack of Arab interest, to advocate binationalism with Truman in May 1948 at the ultimate price of Jewish sovereignty. Accompanying Magnes on his long-misunderstood journey, we gain a unique broader perspective: on early peacemaking efforts in Israel/Palestine, the American Jewish role in the history of the state, binationalism as political theology, an American view of binationalism, and the charged realities of Israel today. David Barak-Gorodetsky is a visiting fellow at the University of Chicago Divinity School and director of the Ruderman Program for Jewish American studies at the University of Haifa. He is also editor of Stripes, Stars, and Magen David: The Jewish American Contribution to the Yishuv and the State of Israel and Connected Vessels: Thoughts in Jewish Education.


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