Culture, Israel

Jewish thought of the day

Albert Einstein“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 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”
Albert Einstein, in his 1938 talk to the National Labor Committee for Palestine [source] Previous ‘Jewish thought of the day’ entries:
Steven Weinberg Nobel Prize-winning physicist
Erich Fromm psychologist and humanistic philosopher

15 thoughts on “Jewish thought of the day

  1. “Zionism springs from an even deeper motive than Jewish suffering. It is rooted in a Jewish spiritual tradition whose maintenance and development are for Jews the basis of their continued existence as a community.”
    Source: Manchester Guardian, (October 12, 1929)
    John Brown,
    You’re not the only moron who can take narrow quotes out of context in order to ascribe the general political views of historical figures who have long since died.

  2. woops – forgot to indicate that above quote is from none other than Albert himself. Big yourself up Einstein!

  3. Your quote from Einstein doesn’t really make it clear whether he means “Jewish homeland in Palestine [among the Arabs]” or “Jewish State” when he says “Zionism”. I suppose the issue is a shifting of the definition of Zionism over time from the former to the latter.

  4. chomsky’s whole thing is that supporting a jewish national homeland in palestine was well within the realm of zionism before ’48. hence why he considers himself a zionist and balks at being called anti-zionist. rather, the idea of a jewish state itself was considered radical and extreme.
    and um, jon, ad hominem attacks are assur. consider yourself warned.

  5. JB, I think you’re being a little disengenous. Like Mobius said, there is a difference between advocating a Jewish homeland vs. a Jewish state. The main arguments previous to 1948, also as Mobius said, were well within this realm.
    As such, the discussions have changed as the reality on the ground has changed. I myself would probably be in Einstein’s camp . . . if I had lived before 1948. But I don’t live in that time. I live in 2006. The reality is a little different now.
    To quote Einstein without its proper historical context tends to deceive people. Einstein was one of Zionism’s biggest supporters, and to present him as an “anti-Zionist” is misleading.

  6. Jared – the article I linked to as my source goes into extensive detail on Einstein’s views on Zionism. There was no presentation of Einstein as an anti-Zionist. That’s what mobius was just saying, that opposition to a Jewish state was not anti-Zionist in his time.
    Now if you want to shift the definition of anti-Zionism to include concepts that in Einstein’s day fell under the umbrella of “Zionism”, then obviously you can significantly change the perceived message Einstein tried to give.
    However when Einstein said “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” that seems fairly unambiguous, and difficult to misinterpret.

  7. First of all, apologies for the ad hominem if it was interpreted as such… but my point was that “any moron” – including me – can can manipulate an out of context quote to suit ANY political POV. It is therefore completely disingenuous to take an anti-zionist quote from Einstein -as you did- or a pro-zionist quote from Einstein -as I did- and, to that end, appropriate Einstein’s legacy to suit your current POV.
    We can all agree that Einstein’s shit doesn’t stink – but it is completely dishonest and mere *spin* to suggest that, since this 20th century genius said at one point in his life that zionism might not be all that and a bag of chips, that we should think the same thing today. What if, at another point in his life, Einstein was an ardent zionist, as my quote suggests? what then? does that mean that we should all be zionists today? No. No it does not. Based on Einstein’s two quotes on zionism presented in this thread, his views on zionism were likely sufficiently nuanced that it is dishonest to claim him, simply, as a pro- or anti-zionist.
    Present your views as they are, and let them be judged as such. But it is intellectually corrupt to rely on Einstein to suggest that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state today. For real.

  8. jon, you’re being silly. einstein’s earlier quote in no way contradicts what he said in ’38. Both support a Jewish homeland within Palestine. Simply being against the nation-state concept does not contradict Einstein’s Zionism. I reject the notion that we should not be reflecting on it today, despite the shift in what’s understood to be Zionism.
    OT: I hope someone is preparing a thread on this study of the proverbial elephant:

  9. What I’m trying to say being a Zionist and being in favor of a Jewish homeland instead of a Jewish state have different meanings between today and in 1938.
    Personally, I am more in favor of a Jewish homeland rather than a Jewish state. However, in today’s age, I’m not sure we can have a Jewish homeland without a Jewish state. A state has its problems, but everyone is entitled to a homeland.
    If you think one can have a homeland without a state and still be reasonably comfortable and secure, look at Palestine.

  10. It’s not a matter of statehood or even nationalism. The attacks on Jews pre-dated the advent of Jewish Statehood, or even the revival of Jewish Nationalism. As long as Arab leadership refuses to co-exist, it’s not up to Jews to determine their role in the conflict…as their role has been decided for them, simply by existing. Come back down to reality, and stop parroting some Greatest Anti-Zionist Quotations website.

  11. and in this photo from the early 1930s, we see weizman and arlozoroff meeting with the pro-zionist arab leadership of palestine to discuss the creation of a bi-national state in which jews and arabs were equal citizens. zev jabotinsky soon called for his assassination in the international jewish press.

  12. Jared: It’s a question of acknowledging a binational reality that already exists. The Bantustans that are being left to the Palestinians will never be a viable state; Israel will not succeed in divesting themselves of the Palestinians in this way.

  13. I don’t think there is a binational reality. A binational reality implies so sort of political cohesion between two national groups. There isn’t political cohesion between Israelis and Palestinians at this current time whereby a binational solution would be accomplished in a peaceful transition.
    The reality of the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is something that would not be solved by a “binational” solution. Putting two groups of people who can’t get along in any reasonable manner into one singular political entity can’t be good.
    This isn’t to say that some sort of federated binational state could not be formed in the future. I’m just saying that that is not a viable option right now, given the political climate.
    Now, Socialist Zionists in decades before the formation of the State of Israel probably believed that a binational state would not only help create and sustain a Jewish homeland, but it would provide the framework for Jewish-Arab cooperation. Plus, a binational state would eliminate many of the institutional discriminations against Jews and others that were endemic to Ottoman imperial rule.
    But, everyone has to remember the cardinal rule of the historian: do NOT judge the events of the past using the ethics and rules of today. Given that, there was no way for the Socialist Zionists to have seen that a binational state was not possible.
    For people to clamor for a binational state simply because Zionists in the past asked for it before a state had been formed is committing a historical error.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.