Book on Einstein and Zionism

The Jewish Week reviews Fred Jerome’s Einstein on Israel and Zionism: His Provocative Ideas about the Middle East (St. Martin’s Press). Jerome’s thesis is that the portrayal of Einstein as an ardent Zionist is a myth and that in fact he was extremely critical of the State of Israel in its early days.

In Einstein’s speeches and letters collected in About Zionism (p.25), he explains his views on Zionism:

I am a national Jew in the sense that I demand the preservation of the Jewish nationality as every other. I look upon Jewish nationality as a fact, and I think that every Jew ought to come to definite conclusions on Jewish questions on the basis of this fact. I regard the growth of Jewish self-assertion as being in the interests of non-Jews as well as Jews. That was the main motive of my joining the Zionist movement. For me Zionism is not merely a question of colonisation. The Jewish nation is a living thing, and the sentiment of Jewish must be developed both in Palestine and everywhere else. To deny the Jews’ nationality in the Diaspora is, indeed, deplorable. If one adopts the point of view of confining Jewish ethnic nationalism to Palestine, then to all intents and purposes one denies the existence of a Jewish people. In that case one should have the courage to carry through assimilation as quickly and as completely as possible.

This passage clearly indicates that Einstein saw himself as a Zionist. He may not have fit into the classic mold; he may have believed in the continuation of Diaspora Jewry; he may have thought that the Jewish nation was more critical than a Jewish homeland; but bottom-line, he considered himself a Zionist.

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