A newly published document from the Israel State Archive and the Albert Einstein Archive at Hebrew University offers insight into famed physicist Albert Einstein ‘s view of Israel and the Middle East.
The document is of a speech Einstein was to give on Israel’s Independence Day, 1955. Written in conjunction with the Israeli consulate and Ambassador Abba Eban, its contents never reached the ears of Einstein’s intended audience: the American people. He died only days before it was to be delivered on ABC, NBC and CBS.
“This is the seventh anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel,” Einstein opened. “The establishment of this State was internationally approved and recognised largely for the purpose of rescuing the remnant of the Jewish people from unspeakable horrors of persecution and oppression.”
“Thus, the establishment of Israel is an event which actively engages the conscience of this generation,” he continued. “It is, therefore, a bitter paradox to find that a State which was destined to be a shelter for a martyred people is itself threatened by grave dangers to its own security. The universal conscience cannot be indifferent to such peril.”
Einstein was critical, too, of those who would place a disproportionate amount of blame on Israel for tensions in the region. And he didn’t mince words when he said, “It is anomalous that world opinion should only criticize Israel’s response to hostility and should not actively seek to bring an end to the Arab hostility which is the root cause of the tension.”
Yair Rosenberg, who first wrote about the speech for Tablet, notes that it allows a further understanding of the complex relationship Einstein had with the Jewish state, one of vacillation and ambivalence: “Because of these nuances, Einstein has often been appropriated by anti-Zionists, who claim him as their own. But as his final speech shows, Einstein remained until the end a passionate defender of Israel and seeker of peace–and a strong believer that the two causes were not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing.”