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Einstein Before Israel

Author: Ze'ev Rosenkranz

Einstein Before Israel:
Zionist Icon or Iconoclast?

Published: July 2011
Language: English

Cloth, 6x9, 24 halftones

364 Pages

Princeton University Press, Princeton-New Jersey


ISBN-13: 978-0691144122


"Albert Einstein was initially sceptical and even disdainful of the Zionist movement, yet he affiliated himself with this controversial political ideology and today is widely seen as an outspoken advocate for a modern Jewish homeland in Palestine. What enticed this renowned scientist and humanitarian, who repeatedly condemned nationalism of all forms, to radically change his views? Was he in fact a Zionist? Einstein Before Israel traces Einstein's involvement with Zionism from his initial contacts with the movement at the end of World War I to his emigration from Germany in 1933 in the wake of Hitler's rise to power. Drawing on a wealth of rare archival evidence--much of it never before published--this book offers the most nuanced picture yet of Einstein's complex and sometimes stormy relationship with Jewish nationalism.

Ze'ev Rosenkranz sheds new light on Einstein's encounters with prominent Zionist leaders, and reveals exactly what Einstein did and didn't like about Zionist beliefs, objectives, and methods. He looks at the personal, cultural, and political factors that led Einstein to support certain goals of Jewish nationalism; his role in the birth of the Hebrew University; his impressions of the emerging Jewish settlements in Palestine; and his reaction to mounting violence in the Arab-Jewish conflict. Rosenkranz explores a host of fascinating questions, such as whether Zionists sought to silence Einstein's criticism of their movement, whether Einstein was the real manipulator, and whether this Zionist icon was indeed a committed believer in Zionism or an iconoclast beholden to no one.

Ze'ev Rosenkranz is senior editor at the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and a former curator of the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include The Einstein Scrapbook.


'Ze'ev Rosenkranz's careful and highly readable exploration of Einstein's encounters with his Jewish identity opens surprising windows not only into the life and mind of the twentieth century's most famous scientist, but also into the history of Zionism, the founding of Hebrew University, and the tumultuous history of British Palestine.'--Michael Gordin, Princeton University.

'Rosenkranz has written the definitive book on an extremely important part of Einstein's life and work, but one that is, curiously and sadly, given scant attention in the existing literature. Einstein Before Israel tells the story of Einstein's evolving relationship with the Zionist movement in a detailed and richly contextualized way. The Einstein who emerges from these pages is a complicated figure, part naïf and part sophisticated political actor.'--Don Howard, University of Notre Dame.

'Rosenkranz reveals an ambivalence in Einstein's struggles with his Jewish identity, and calls into question the frequent attribution to Einstein of a fervent Zionist ideology. The scholarship is impeccable. There really is nothing out there to compete with this book.'--Robert Schulmann, co-editor of Einstein on Politics.

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations ix
Preface xiii
Acknowledgments xvii
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: "A Vivid Sense of Strangeness" 9
Einstein's Path to the Zionist Movement
Chapter 2: A Different Kind of Nationalism 46
Einstein's Induction and Mobilization into the Zionist Movement
Chapter 3: The "Prize-Winning Ox" in "Dollaria" 86
Einstein's Fundraising Trip to the United States in 1921
Chapter 4: S ecular Pilgrim or Zionist Tourist? 139
Einstein's Tour of Palestine in 1923
Chapter 5: The "Botched University" 181
Einstein's Involvement in the Hebrew University, 1924-1929
Chapter 6: "A Genuine Symbiosis" 209
Einstein on the 1929 Clashes in Palestine
Chapter 7: The "Bug-Infested House" 230
Einstein's Involvement in the Hebrew University, 1930-1933
Conclusion 252
Epilogue 270
Notes 275
Bibliography 313
Index 337"

Source: Princeton University Press, Princeton-New Jersey, 2011

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