Einstein on Palestine and Zionism

There is some controversy over Einstein’s political views especially on the issue of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish State.

Many Zionists claim Einstein as one of their own. Einstein, however, was a pacifist, a universalist and abhorred nationalism.

The recently published book, Einstein on Israel and Zionism: His Provocative Ideas About the Middle East by Fred Jerome (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009) has brought Einstein’s political views on the Middle East back into the spotlight.

The evidence of Einstein’s position on Palestine and Zionism is best seen in his own words and actions on the subject.

For example Einstein made a presentation to the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, which was examining the Palestine issue in January 1946 and argued against the creation of a Jewish State. (( “‘Einstein on Israel’ reveals essential history of debate over Zionism and a Jewish state,” by Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss, May 28, 2009.))

Here is a quote from Einstein’s testimony before Judge Hutcheson, the American Chairman of the Committee:

Judge Hutcheson: It has been told to our committee by the Zionists that the passionate heart of every Jew will never be satisfied until they have a Jewish state in Palestine. It is contended, I suppose, that they must have a majority over the Arabs. It has been told to us by the Arab representatives that the Arabs are not going to permit such condition as that, they [sic] will not permit having themselves converted from a majority to a minority.

Dr. Einstein: Yes.

Judge Hutcheson: I have asked these various persons if it is essential to the right or the privilege of the Jews to go to Palestine, if it is essential to real Zionism that a setup be fixed so that the Jews have a Jewish state and a Jewish majority without regard to the Arab view. Do you share that point of view, or do you think the matter can be handled on any other basis?

Dr. Einstein: Yes, absolutely. The state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.

Judge Hutcheson: Isn’t it spiritual and ethical B I do not mean this particular Zionist movement, I do not mean the idea of insisting that a Jewish state must be created isn’t it anachronistic?

Dr. Einstein: In my opinion, yes. I am against it … (( “‘Einstein on Israel’ reveals essential history of debate over Zionism and a Jewish state,” by Adam Horowitz, Mondoweiss, May 28, 2009.))

Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel shortly after the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre and referred to the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin later a Prime Minister of Israel, and the Stern Gang, where Yitzhak Shamir also a future Prime Minister of Israel was a member, as terrorist organizations and refused to support these “misled and criminal people.” ((See “Einstein’s Letter about Deir Yassin Massacre,” If Americans Knew.))

Albert Einstein, Sidney Hook, Hannah Arendt and twenty-five other prominent Jews, in a letter to the New York Times (December 4, 1948), condemned Menachem Begin’s and Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud party as “fascist” and espousing “an admixture of ultra-nationalism, religious mysticism and racial superiority.” ((The New York Times letter is reproduced in Prophets Outcast: A Century of Dissident Jewish Writing about Zionism and Israel, edited by Adam Shatz, (New York: Nation Books, 2004), p. 65-67.))

In 1950 Einstein published the following statement on the question of Zionism. This speech was originally given to the National Labor Committee for Palestine, in New York, on April 17, 1938 but republished by Einstein after Israel’s creation.

I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. Apart from the practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight without a Jewish state. ((Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (New York: Philosophical Library, 1950), p. 263. This speech is reproduced in Prophets Outcast edited by Adam Shatz, p. 63-64. For a discussion of what Alfred Lilienthal calls the “kidnapping” of Albert Einstein by the Zionists, see Alfred Lilienthal, The Zionist Connection II (New Brunswick, New Jersey: North American, 1982), p. 340?343. Also see Einstein on Israel and Zionism: His Provocative Ideas About the Middle East by Fred Jerome, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009).))

Einstein also turned down the presidency of the state of Israel. ((See Evan Wilson, Decision on Palestine (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 1979), p. 27. Wilson served on the Palestine desk of the United States State Department during the time of Israel’s creation.)) In Albert Einstein: A Biography (Viking, 1997), Albrecht Folsing shares the following revelation about the offer to Einstein to become Israel’s second president: “While Ben-Gurion was awaiting Einstein’s decision, he asked his assistant, the future president Yitzak Navon, over a cup of coffee: ‘Tell me what to do if he says yes! I have had to offer the post to him because it’s impossible not to. But if he accepts we’re in for trouble. ((Albrecht Folsing, Albert Einstein: A Biography (Viking, 1997), p. 735. Cited in “Einstein, Zionism and Israel: Setting the Record Straight,” by Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq, Updated: July 2006.))

Einstein wrote to his stepdaughter Margot after declining the presidency of Israel. He said, “If I were to be president, sometime I would have to say to the Israeli people things they would not like to hear.” ((Farooq citing Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor, Einstein on Race and Racism (Rutgers University Press, 2005), p. 111; further sources given in p. 307, note #25. Bold added.))

Einstein did participate in the Sixteenth Zionist Congress in 1929. The World Zionist Organization (WZO) mentioned and described Einstein in a document published in 1997. It is rather revealing and the WZO ought to know who was and who was not a Zionist.

The Sixteenth Zionist Congress (1929) decided on the establishment of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which would be a joint body of the World Zionist Organization and those known as “non-Zionists” in the belief that all Jews wished to participate in building the National Home. Upon conclusion of the Congress, Board of the Jewish Agency convened. Of its 224 members, 112 were Zionists (members of the World Zionist Organization) including Prof. Chaim Weizmann who was elected as President of the Jewish Agency, Nahum Sokolow, Menahem Ussishkin, Shemaryahu Levin, David Ben-Gurion, Rabbi Uziel; the 112 “non-Zionist” members included Louis Marshall, Shalom Asch, Albert Einstein, Leon Blum, and members of the Rothschild family. ((Year of Zionism, by the Zionist General Council, World Zionist Organization: The National Institutions, Structure and Functions, 1997, p. 47. Cited in Farooq, Ibid. The quotation marks around “non-Zionists” are in the original document.))

To quote one commenter: “Einstein’s opposition to Israel was widely known and reported on during his life. In fact, the myth of Einstein’s support of Israel was born the day after Einstein’s death in his obituary in The New York Times, which shamelessly wrote that he championed the establishment of the Jewish state. This contradicted decades of reporting from the ‘Paper of Record.’ Jerome provides some examples, including a 1930 article headlined ‘Einstein attacks British Zion Policy,’ a 1938 article stating Einstein was ‘Against Palestine State’ and a 1946 article stating ‘Einstein Bars Jewish State.'” ((“Einstein Revealed as an Opponent of the Jewish State,” by Jaisal Noor, Dissident Voice, May 19, 2009. And see also Kim Petersen, “A Myth Exposed: Albert Einstein Was Not a Zionist,” Dissident Voice, May 1, 2003.))

It is clear that Albert Einstein did not support political Zionism and opposed a Jewish State based on an ethnic or racial basis. His political views were remarkably consistent and supported universal human rights. He was opposed to war and chauvinistic ethnic nationalism. Today Einstein is a revered as a political and scientific icon. However, many unfortunately forget his wise words on the issue of Palestine and its conflict with political Zionism.

Edward C. Corrigan is a Barrister and Solicitor and has been active in political matters for more than 40 years. He has a degree in History and a Master’s degree in Political Science. He has published extensively on legal and political matters. In 2000-2003 he served as an elected member of London, Ontario, Canada’s City Council. Read other articles by Edward, or visit Edward's website.

15 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 9th, 2010 at 10:49am #

    In similar vein, Nikola Tesla, who was a serb from croatia, had declared that he is a serb but his country was croatia.
    If indeed he said that, he was then not for gathering serbs in one country. That had been serb policy soon after serb liberation from ottoman rule in early 19th century.

    It had been croat and slovenian intelligencia which propagated unity of south slavs; so as to avoid possible warfare by serbs to achieve their goal of annexing parts of croatia, bosnia, and macedonia.

    Soon after set up of yugoslavia, croats learnd that serbs were not abandoning their goal.
    And indeed, in ’91, having been much stronger military, attacked croatia and bosnia in ’93.
    Initially, ?all leftists and rightists had supported serbs, but by early ’94 US changed its mind. Canada, a yr+ later, also turned against serbs.
    However, serbs do have a de facto state in bosnia!

  2. kalidas said on January 9th, 2010 at 1:48pm #

    How about Slovenia?
    They seemed to gain independence very quickly and easily.
    Was this due to $$$ and connections to the West?

  3. bozh said on January 9th, 2010 at 4:29pm #

    The west did not want break up of yugoslavia; US not until ’94 and nato lands s’mwhat later.
    Serbs;i.e., yugoslav army,where in slovenia only one week. The invasion of slovenia in ’91 had been perped with the goal to persuade west that yugoslav army intended to preserve tito’s yugoslavia and not was not ab to wage any war for greater serbia.
    UN, believing that that was the case imposed an arms embargo on yugoslav republics in ’91.
    However, croats were able to acquire arms; probably from hungary, traditional enemy of serbia, or e.germany. No croat gov’t had to date, as far as i know, disclosed where it bought the arms.

    Since there were only few serbs in slovenia, yugoslav army withdrew from there after just a week of some skirmishes. I am not sure whether serbs have fooled so many leftitst or whether their allegience to serbia since even before WW1 blinded them to what had been obvious to us: fascist serbs out to steal land while having vast military superiority!
    The Left always believed that only serbs were partisans and/or communists.
    Actually, croatia had stronger communist party than any republic even before WW2.
    During WW2, of eleven partisan corps on yugoslv soil, 5 were operating in croatia, according to croat historian, stjepan antoljak.
    Curioso appears that the head of communist party of croatia, andrija hebrang, a ‘jew’, had been executed by tito for demanding or working on for independence for croatia.

    I shld be noted that the croat fascist puppet gov’t controled very little of bosnia and croatia. On the other hand, serb fascist puppet gov’t had controled almost all of the serbia. Its army, called chetninks [troopers] were actually fighting partisans along with germans and ustashe, the croats.
    It was very near the end of war that croat domobrans [home guard] and chetniks en masse joined partisans.

    So, it is very difficult to believe that ustashe have slain- by serb account, 1,5oo,000 serbs- and by british acc. 3oo-700.
    There was much free territory for serbs and `jews` to go to. Also half of croatia had been occupied by italy until sept `43. And italy had refused to deliver `jews` to germans.
    So, `jews` cld have fled to croatia controled by italy.
    Serbia and some croatian serbs were allied to italy. Thus, most serbs cld have fled to serbia and parts of croatia. Or simply joined partisans.

    The problem is that the croat story never got to west or to the Left. It seems they only heard one side. tnx
    And serbs finally and deservedly lost even kosovo. tnx

  4. Rehmat said on January 9th, 2010 at 6:30pm #

    Albert Einstein was a Zionist Jew but not in favour of creating a seperate ‘Jewisj only” state within Palestine.

    “I should much rather see reasonable agreement with the Arabs on the basis of living together in peace than the creation of a Jewish state. Apart from the practical considerations, my awareness of the essential nature of Judaism resists the idea of a Jewish state with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power no matter how modest. I am afraid of the inner damage of Judaism will sustain – especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight without a Jewish state,” – Albert Einstein in ‘Out of My Later Years’.

    Palestine – Silent no more….

  5. bozh said on January 10th, 2010 at 8:58am #

    So, einstein did not even know that he was not connected to zion, palestine, or hebrews. His only connection with yehudim had been his seeming adoption of talmud and torah!
    As u say, he may have not been for a ‘jewish’ state, but for a state dominated by white ‘jews’!
    Aren’t all “jews” connected to the land theft; euphemisticly called “zionism”? To disconnect from it, all one has to do is call self a pole, russian, english, lett, hungarian, german, et al, but with adherence or connection to talmud and other antihuman writing. tnx

  6. Max Shields said on January 10th, 2010 at 11:09am #

    It seems once again that we twist terms to satisfy our purposes. It seems clear – I see no direct contradiction – that Einstein was against a Jewish state and was extremely leery of the whole notion of nation-states and their inherent tendency toward conflict and war.

    Is there really more to say on this topic than that?

  7. Deadbeat said on January 10th, 2010 at 2:04pm #

    It seems once again that we twist terms to satisfy our purposes.

    Einstein being a scientist was no twister of terms. He understood clearly the terms of his own ideology. Einstein was a socialist and he wrote the opening for the Marxist journel “The Monthly Review” in 1949 entitled “Why Socialism?”

  8. bozh said on January 10th, 2010 at 3:09pm #

    It is at least odd or even odder than a old cow’s udder that einstein had not known that it had been judaism or mosheism; or rather, hebrew mad priests who have ordered hebrews to attack and slay all canaanites and establish a hebrew-only country stretching from river to river [nile to euphrates] or the lesser version that wld have included parts of jordan, lebanon, and syria.
    Semites were and r still lot darker with brown and black eyes an doften rounded faces.

    Or did he think that semites were also that stupid to allow any immigration into palestine by white europeans? Or did not know that immigration of white people was allowed by League of Nations and later by UN; which was dominated by communist and fascist lands and empires.

    I think einstein was, if accurately quoted, a hypocrite; he jsut cldn’t wrestle dwn his jewishness. And ?all ‘jews’ seem to have that problem.
    Even atzmon had once said that he has to fight his own jewishness. It appears nigh impossible to give up a cult! tnx

  9. joed said on January 10th, 2010 at 3:17pm #

    hi bozh, it aint just jews what be aflicted with the cult mentality–is it!
    seems the more aflicted they be then the more they kill kill kill. look at me i am gods chosen, i am special. sick stuff-sick humans.
    “The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself”: Jane Addams

  10. Eileen Fleming said on January 10th, 2010 at 7:38pm #

    In the essay “The Calling of The Jews” Einstein wrote:

    “This is a time when there seems to be a particular need for men of philosophical persuasion—that is to say, friends of wisdom and truth—to join together…We Jews should be, and remain, the carriers and patrons of spiritual values. But we should also always be aware of the fact that these spiritual values are and always have been the common goal of mankind.”


  11. Jacob said on January 11th, 2010 at 12:18am #

    It is important to remember that when President Harry Truman recognized Israel in May 1948, Einstein declared it “the fulfillment of our dreams.”
    He declined the presidency in 1952 because as he wrote : “a position like Israel’s presidency required etiquette and interpersonal finesse—traits that he, claimed to lack.”
    Several days before his death, in April 1955, he invited Israel’s ambassador Eban to his home and asked if the Israelis would like him to record a national radio address of Israel’s behalf. “I must challenge the conscience of the world, he told Eban, “and boldly criticize the world powers for their attitude to Israel”. The speech was planned to coincide with the Israeli Independence day at the end of the month. Unfortunately he died before being able to deliver the speech.
    In his will he left orders for a trust to be formed containing “all of my manuscripts, copyrights, publication rights” and all other rights. The trust’s income was designated to his dependents – as long as they lived. After that its contents and income reverted to the Hebrew University, of which he was a founder and a member of the board of trustees.
    Einstein was among the founders of the Hebrew University, one of the most important achievements of the Zionist movement. And if Einstein did not support Israel he would not have volunteered to make a radio broadcast on the eve of Israel’s seventh birthday to criticize the world powers for their attitude to Israel.
    Author William Frankel, wrote in his “Tea With Einstein”: “Einstein was passionate in his denunciation of the Irgun and the Stern Gang, even though he conceded that its militant activities could possibly advance the creation of the Jewish state which was, in his opinion, both desirable and inevitable.”
    In a 1947 letter to Indian Prime Minister Nehru seeking support for the Jewish state, Einstein wrote that “long before the emergence of Hitler I made the cause of Zionism mine because through it I saw a means of correcting a flagrant wrong.” and “the advent of Hitler underscored with a savage logic all the disastrous implications contained in the abnormal
    situation in which Jews found themselves. Millions of Jews perished. . . because there was no spot on the globe where they could find sanctuary. . . The Jewish survivors demand the right to dwell amid brothers, on the ancient soil of their fathers.”
    After Israel was established he wrote to a cousin in Uruguay:“No one respects. . . those who do not fight for their rights”. Einstein allowed the auctioning of this letter to raise funds for the Israel’s Defense Forces.
    Besides his close relationship with the Hebrew University, Einstein served on an advisory committee for the Weizmann’s Institute, to which he donated a trove of personal papers.
    Einstein was a Zionist.


  12. Maryb said on January 11th, 2010 at 3:50am #

    I am assuming that Hasbara put those words into your mouth. Divert, negate, divert again….

    Here are some of the latest atrocities, carried out in the dark of the night needless to say, by the terror squads of the terror state as reported by an American visiting the remnants of Palestine. The report is darkly illuminating, disturbing and moving.


  13. Maryb said on January 11th, 2010 at 6:48am #

    My name was taken when registration began on this site.

    If what you allege is true, why does a democracy, the only one on the ME, believe in summary execution? That is a rhetorical question by the way.

    I thought you had a legal system. This murderous barbarism (there is no other way to describe it) is identical to that of the Nazis who perpetrated their foul acts, putting fear into the local populace by acts of wanton murder and brutality.

  14. Max Shields said on January 11th, 2010 at 7:35am #

    Deadbeat thanks for the link on Einstein. Once again it demonstrates the eloquence and insight of a brilliant thinker – not simply a scientist, but a social thinker.

    It is this human nature which is so important, not simply the fabrication of systems. Peeling off these ideological layers we see what we are, what we need, or think we need and what we want or think we want.

    There is great tension between what we need because there are contradictions which are not put to rest simply by changing a system. The human consciousness continues its struggle.

    But social”ism” as in what is communially ours and that which is private are certainly one of the cruxes of the issue. The interedependence not only of the species (homo sapiens) but of all of life and non-life no the planet cannot be avoided. It is the unavoidable unnegotiable truth at all levels of consciousness.

    On a recent interview with the author Michael Scammell on the topic of Arthur Koestler you see him aligning with Zionism (this is prior to talk about Palestine) and then renouncing it. This I think was common for many Jewish intellectuals. The thought of a solution to the wandering Jews in the midst of non-Jews seemed to point toward a nation-state of Jews.

    But Koestler was for a time a die-hard Communist and then walked away from that remaining always on the left however. There is nothing wrong with the attraction on one level and then determining that from a certain set of principles that attraction is wrong in some way – morally, ethically, soically, economically, etc.

    Point, I don’t think Einstein was a Zionist but one’s life follows a trajectory of twists and turns. Who among us has not changed in some way what they held to be certain? Einstein’s primary guiding principle was world peace it was a natural human and logical conclusion. Nation-states (before them city-states) have held claim to conflict and war. In his life he would not stand for such a deep and unreconcilable contradiction with Zionism, which is nothing if not a chauvinist ideology.

  15. bozh said on January 11th, 2010 at 8:23am #

    I agree. It is not solely ‘jews’ who cannot give up their “jewishness”; i.e., a connection with mosheism, vicious hebrew priests, talmud or belief in the right of the ‘jews’ to have a state of their own and to lead the world.

    I say that if had been connected in any mode with anything ‘jewish’, i’d be deeply ashamed and embarassed if i only deemed self a “jew”, let alone proclaimed it!

    Similarly, a person who deems or calls self “Muslim” rather than first of all human and thereafter a lebanese, iraqi, et al also is firmly wedded to a cult.
    Christianity, to me, appears an ideology similar to islam and mosheism.
    All three compare well with mein kampf.

    Btw, einstein either lied or was not aware that hitler offered ‘jews’ madagascar as a homeland or country! UK offered then uganda. USSR gave them birobidjan.
    Of course going to those places wld have meant not much support for them even from ‘jews’ let alone christians; so, rejecting those places. tnx