This book brings new attention to Simon Rawidowicz (1897-1957), the wide-ranging Jewish thinker and scholar who taught at Brandeis University in the 1950s. At the heart of Myers' book is a chapter that Rawidowicz wrote as a coda to his Hebrew tome Babylon and Jerusalem (1957) but never published. In it, Rawidowicz shifted his decades-long preoccupation with the "Jewish Question" to what he called the "Arab Question." Asserting that the "Arab Question" had become a most urgent political and moral matter for Jews after 1948, Rawidowicz called for an end to discrimination against Arabs resident in Israel-and more provocatively, for the repatriation of Arab refugees from 1948.
Myers' book is divided into two main sections. Part I introduces the life and intellectual development of Rawidowicz. It traces the evolution of his thinking about the"Jewish Question," namely, the status of Jews as a national minority in the Diaspora. Part II concentrates on the shift occasioned by the creation of the State of Israel, when Jews assumed political sovereignty and entered into a new relationship with the native Arab population. Myers analyzes the structure, content, and context of Rawidowicz's unpublished chapter on the "Arab Question," paying particular attention to Rawidowicz's calls for an end to discrimination against Arabs in Israel, on the one hand, and for the repatriation of those refugees who left Palestine in 1948, on the other.
The volume also includes a full English translation of"Between Jew and Arab," a timeline of significant events, and an appendix of official legal documents from Israel and the international community pertaining to the conflict.
An exploration of the fascinating Jewish thinker Simon Rawidowicz and his provocative views on Arab refugees and the fate of Israel
"Myers demonstrates his virtuosity at intellectual history as he creates a marvelous context for us to understand this major thinker." Jewish Journal "True, today an open-door policy of repatriating Arab refugees and their families might threaten the 'Jewish' character of the state (which Rawidowicz wanted to protect). But in 1948 that was not the case, and many at that time knew it. And now, when historians such as Benny Morris have provided evidence to undermine the Israeli myth that Arabs left Palestine primarily on the advice of their leaders (Rawidowicz and others knew this myth was untrue in the early 1950s), we Jews have much to account for... We owe David Myers a debt of gratitude for giving us Simon Rawidowicz's lost voice: a voice of reason, of tradition, of morality, especially at a time when we need to be brought back to our collective senses." The Forward"
DAVID N. MYERS is professor of history and director of the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies. He is the author of Re-Inventing the Jewish Past Resisting History.