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Martin Buber’s essay “False Prophets” (1940) was written in Hebrew in Jerusalem two years after he fled Nazi Germany and assumed a professorship at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The essay offers a political analysis of the dramatic confrontation between the prophets Jeremiah and Hananiah (Jeremiah 28). It speaks about the dangers of nationalism in Jeremiah’s biblical Jerusalem and in Buber’s own modern Jerusalem, eight years before the proclamation of the State of Israel. Who is the real lover of the homeland, Buber asks, the patriot who cares not about human beings, or the concerned individual who is willing to compromise in order to avoid destruction and save lives? When does nationalism become malignant? What is the difference between a true prophet and a false one?
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