Yesterday Hebrew University unveiled a program to digitize parts of Albert Einstein’s archives. Donald MacIntyre, the Independent’s Jerusalem correspondent, starts his story by telling us how Einstein helped an ex-lover escape Europe. Like many men of power and privilege, Einstein chose to betray his second wife and take on a lover almost half his age. The correspondent did not seek any comments on Einstein’s infidelity. Perhaps this is common knowledge already. Perhaps the Independent has accepted this as expected behavior from the rich and famous.
The focus of the Independent article is a letter that Einstein wrote to a Palestinian newspaper in which he seems to propose a one-state solution and a detailed mechanism for making it work.
By 1930, Einstein was on warm enough terms with the Palestinian editor [Azmi al-Nahashibi of Falastin] to share with Falastin’s readers his chosen peace process – one which firmly excluded politicians. Instead he envisaged a council of two four-strong teams, Jewish and Arab, working in secret, each of a “physician elected by the medical body; a jurist elected by the lawyers; a worker representative elected by the unions; and one clerical man elected by the ecclesiastical body”. Each would undertake not to act out of sectional or national interest but “to take into account… according to their knowledge and conscience the prosperity of the whole inhabitants of the Land.”
When three on each side agreed on a resolution they could make it public. Saying that “aggressive nationalism must be subdued,” he asserts that the council would gradually “lead to a state in which differences will gradually be eliminated and common representation of the interests of the country will be upheld”. Einstein summed up his vision of a future Palestine “only as the scene of peaceful co-operation between the two peoples whose land it is”.
The article did seek quotes from the curator as well as the head of the archive, who comment on Einstein’s Zionism and poo poo his peace plan. The unfortunate headline exclaims the exact opposite of what is claimed in the body of the article “Even Einstein couldn’t think of a peace plan.” Einstein’s crime is that he did think of a plan; one that put Arabs and Jews on equal footing. Any plan that does not privilege Jews over Arabs could not possibly exist.
“Even,” the first word in the Independent headline, betrays one of the lies of liberal Zionism. There is a conflict in Israel-Palestine not because of the racism inherent in Zionism, but because The Conflict is so complex that nobody, not even the greatest mind of the last century, can ever propose a solution even if he clearly proposes a solution.