Reading Einstein in Jerusalem

David Billet in The New Republic:

E Albert Einstein was not only a scientist and universal eminence, but also a proud Jew who had a longtime association with the Zionist movement. In the 1920s, he toured America with Chaim Weizmann to gather support for the creation of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. When Weizmann died in office in 1952 as Israel's first president, Einstein was proposed as his successor by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Because of such incidents, observes Fred Jerome–the author of three books about Einstein's political/philosophical thought, including a new one, Einstein on Israel and Zionism: His Provocative Ideas About the Middle East–Zionist fgures and institutions have claimed Einstein as a “champion” of the state of Israel. The mainstream media in the U.S. has told and retold this “widely accepted story.” But the story, says Jerome, is a myth. In the present volume, he collects and comments upon various letters, speeches, and public statements of Einstein in order to demonstrate that the latter was never comfortable with the idea or reality of a Jewish state.

In letters translated from the German by Michael Schiffmann, we read that Einstein was deeply affected by the ugly treatment of Jews in Germany after World War I–including the dismissal by nationalist scientists of his theory of relativity as a “Jewish” perversion. He believed that it was inexcusable to flee one's Judaic heritage, as many assimilated German Jews of the middle class did, and he believed that a Jewish homeland in Palestine would lift the standing and confidence of Jews worldwide.

Still, Einstein was as wary of crude Jewish nationalism as of the German kind.

More here.