Einstein Discusses an Understanding With the Arabs and Zionist Politics in 1942

November 13, 1942

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Einstein Discusses an Understanding With the Arabs and Zionist Politics in 1942
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 800

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      Background

      Whether, before 1948, the Jews should create a homeland in Palestine, or a state in Israel, was a passionately conducted controversy. Einstein was in favor of a homeland, in which Jewish culture, ethics and intellectual life might flourish; he was against a sovereign entity, with an army, interests, and endless strife.  This letter has to do with Einstein’s agreement with Judah Magnes, a rabbi and pacifist who had dedicated himself to Jewish-Arab cooperation and reconciliation…

       I have always been a supporter of an honest understanding policy with the Arabs that strives to solve the problem, preferably without English leadership.  It is therefore clear that I agree with Mr. Magnes in regard to this matter, and that I have generally looked upon the Zionist politics with great uneasiness when it comes to this point. Due to the present conflict, however, it is impossible for me to give an opinion, since I neither know the trials of Mr. Magnes, not can judge the current precarious situation.


      In 1942 Magnes had founded a small political party, “Union," to promote a bi-national Palestine, in which the ratio of Jews to Arabs would be fixed at 40 per cent, but equal rights would be shared by all. This proposition was so odious to Zionist leadership and public opinion, however, that Magnes was soon condemned, vilified, and even threatened with death by extremists.

      When the State of Israel was declared six years later, however, Einstein told a friend his attitude had changed. He had never considered the idea of a state a good one, he said, but now that it existed there was no going back. “One has to fight it out,” he said.


      Typed Letter Signed (“A. Einstein”), in German, 1 page, quarto, no place, November 13, 1942. To Professor Chaim Tchernowitz.
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      A. EINSTEIN,
      112, Mercer Street,
      Princeton,
      New Jersey, U.S.A.
       
      November 13, 1942
       
      Professor Chaim Tchernowitz
      Bitzaron,
      1141 Broadway
      New York City

      [Translated from German]
       
      Dear Professor Tchernowitz:
       
      I have always been a supporter of an honest understanding policy with the Arabs that strives to solve the problem, preferably without English leadership. It is therefore clear that I agree with Mr. Magnes in regard to this matter, and that I have generally looked upon the Zionist politics with great uneasiness when it comes to this point.
       
      Due to the present conflict, however, it is impossible for me to give an opinion, since I neither know the trials of Mr. Magnes, nor can judge the current precarious situation. But I would be very interested to hear more about the current state of this matter, which is so important to us.
       
      I cannot ask you for a visit, since unfortunately, for the stated reasons, I will not been able to meet your mentioned request.
       
      With kind regards
       
      Your
       
      A. EINSTEIN.