Activists for Everyone

June 21, 2011 | By

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Brit Shalom was an activist group that tried to find common ground between Jews and Arabs in order to establish a lasting peace between the two groups. Sound like a headline straight out of today’s news? The group, whose name means “covenant of peace,” existed during the years 1925-1933.

At the time, Jewish Labor Movement officials claimed there was no broad-based Arab resistance to Zionism, and that appearances to the contrary were deceiving. On the other hand, Ze’ev Jabotinsky and his Revisionist movement argued that war was inevitable.

Brit Shalom was the third alternative. Led by Jewish intellectuals including theologian Martin Buber and famed academic Gershom Scholem, the organization was less a political group than a “study circle” aimed at promoting interaction between Jews and Arabs–offering Arabic classes for Jews, publishing editorials, and decrying what they saw as Jewish “imperialist” tendencies.

After Hitler rose to power in 1933, there was infighting within Brit Shalom about how to respond to the difficult political climate. Later that year, the group disbanded–but many of the group’s ideals and writings are still in circulation today.

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