Acquisition of Original Albert Einstein Letter
The Promised Land Museum is proud to display in our digital and physical archive this letter signed by Albert Einstein in 1948.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was a world-renown, German-born theoretical physicist who has described his relationship to the Jewish people as his “strongest human bond.” Einstein co-founded the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925. He supported Jewish migration to Palestine, but he stood strongly against the creation of a Jewish nation-state.
In 1948, the American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel (AFFFI) (which represented the Stern Gang/LEHI) sought Einstein’s help in raising funds for their Jewish fighters. AFFFI Executive Director Shepard Rifkin explained in the letter below that when Stern Gang commander Benjamin Gepner asked him to reach out to Albert Einstein for the purposes of gaining propaganda and fundraising assistance, he responded: “Are you crazy? He is completely against violence!” Still, Rifkin wrote a letter to Albert Einstein asking for his help raising funds in America for arms.
Einstein refused with this letter that said “When a real and final catastrophe should befall us in Palestine the first responsible for it would be the British and the second responsible for it would be the Terrorist Organizations build [sic] up from our own ranks. I am not willing to see anybody associated with those mislead and criminal people.”
Einstein Offered Presidency of Israel
In 1938, Einstein wrote: “The bond that has united the Jews for thousands of years and that unites them today is, above all, the democratic ideal of social justice coupled with the ideal of mutual aid and tolerance among all men.” He co-wrote a letter to the New York Times in 1948 that described one of Israel’s founding political parties (future Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Freedom Party) as “closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”
The history of Einstein’s refusal letter is described on the Deir Yassin Remembered website: https://www.deiryassin.org/einstein.html. You can learn more about Deir Yassin at https://promisedlandmuseum.org/creation-of-state/.
Other sites that have presented the refusal letter include:
The hardcopy of this letter is now housed in the Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience, www.PromisedLandMuseum.org.
In 1952, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion offered Einstein the position of President of Israel, and Einstein again refused on account of his age and abilities.