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Einstein letter, on sale at Ebay, blamed Jewish terrorists for risking ‘catastrophe’ in Palestine

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Einstein letter, 1948

Einstein letter, 1948

Ebay is selling a letter written by Albert Einstein at the time of the Deir Yassin massacre in April 1948 to an American Zionist, denouncing the Zionist militias’ terrorist activities. It’s interesting that Einstein’s word, catastrophe, is also the Palestinians’ word in Arabic, the Nakba. The letter’s text:

April 10,1948

Mr. Shepard Rifkin


American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel

149 Second Ave.

New York 3,N.Y.

Dear Sir:

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 the Terrorist organizations build up from our own ranks.

I am not willing to see anybody associated with those misled and criminal people.

Sincerely yours, (Signed, ‘A. Einstein’)

Albert Einstein.


From the description:

You are bidding on an original letter from Albert Einstein to Mr. Shepard Rifkin. Written in 1948 it cautions that any catastrophe befalling the fledgling nation of Israel will come from the actions of either its creators (Britain) or its citizens. Coincidentally the letter was written the morning after the Israelis carried out an unprovoked massacre of Palestinian civilians in the village of Deir Yassin.

The proceeds will go to the organization, Deir Yassin Remembered. Looks like the opening bid is set at $16,000, and has not yet been made. Thanks to Abdeen Jabara.

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46 Responses

  1. annie
    October 22, 2013, 11:51 am

    i wonder who has been in possession of this letter and how they acquired it.

    • FreddyV
      October 22, 2013, 12:06 pm

      Hi Annie,

      If you click on the Ebay listing, there’s a press cutting on it.

      This must be such an embarrassment for Israelis. One of the world’s most famous Jews so plainly damning the Zionist project in two brief sentences.

      • dms
        October 22, 2013, 1:37 pm

        How do you get the conclusion that Einstein was “damning the Zionist project”?

        Sounds like it may be wishful thinking on your part.

  2. eljay
    October 22, 2013, 11:55 am

    Well said, Mr. Einstein.

  3. Obsidian
    October 22, 2013, 12:12 pm

    An educated fool who denied the existence of Arab terrorism. Why?
    Best guess is that Einstein was afflicted with the ‘bigotry of low expectations’.

    • Pamela Olson
      Pamela Olson
      October 22, 2013, 12:14 pm

      Ah yes — Obsidian calling Einstein a fool. Can a comment possibly be any richer than this?

      • Obsidian
        October 22, 2013, 1:22 pm

        Yes, Pamela. An educated fool.
        Haven’t you ever met one before?

      • Pamela Olson
        Pamela Olson
        October 22, 2013, 1:43 pm

        Einstein identified the two key players in creating and perpetuating the conflict in Palestine, one of which was apparently asking for his approval. He didn’t offer that approval — that was the subject of the letter. He also didn’t deny anything. Try reading it again.

        The likes of you calling one of the greatest geniuses in human history a fool ranks among the finest chutzpah I’ve ever witnessed. Mazel tov.

        (He was occasionally wrong even in his physics. But there’s a difference between saying someone was wrong and calling him a fool. And before you do so, I’d suggest you give your own fixed ideas a re-think. Einstein was many things, but he was no fool.)

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 22, 2013, 4:34 pm

        “Obsidian calling Einstein a fool. Can a comment possibly be any richer than this?”

        He’s the political equivalent of a creationist.

    • amigo
      October 22, 2013, 2:08 pm

      “An educated fool who denied the existence of Arab terrorism.” obsidious

      Much better than being a fool waiting to be educated.

    • K Renner
      K Renner
      October 22, 2013, 3:04 pm

      lawl the only terrorists were the palmach, irgun, and lehi.

      Also the politicians and rich individuals who decided that Palestine was to be the home for each and every one of the world’s Jews, and too bad if the Palestinians and other people living in Palestine didn’t like it.

    • talknic
      October 22, 2013, 6:04 pm

      @ Obsidian “An educated fool who denied the existence of Arab terrorism. Why?”

      “Why?” ?? Where?

      “Best guess ..”

      Uh huh. ‘guess’ being your MO I guess.

    • Cliff
      October 22, 2013, 6:14 pm

      when did Einstein deny the existence of ‘Arab terrorism’ and when have Jewish colonists like you ever acknowledged that your apartheid State was and is built on Jewish terrorism?

    • kayq
      October 22, 2013, 11:02 pm

      Not so surprisingly though, it was the Jewish militias who had enforced ethnic cleansing upon citizens, no?

    • Qualtrough
      October 23, 2013, 2:07 am

      I am going to go out on a limb here and venture that had Einstein been a supporter of Zionism you would think he was the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    • thankgodimatheist
      October 24, 2013, 6:54 pm

      “An educated fool who denied the existence of Arab terrorism.”
      Maybe because there was no Arab terrorism then. Unknown to them before Jewish terror gangs introduced the genre to Palestine.

  4. pabelmont
    October 22, 2013, 12:36 pm

    The more famous Einstein letter was to NYT, in 1948, reproduced here.Among other things, he hi-lights fascism:

    Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine. * * * The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. I

    Please note that the EBAY description has an error: the Haganah and Irgun, who carried out the attack and massacre at Deir Yassin were not Israeli organizations but militias (irregular forces) and/or terrorists of the pre-state Palestinian Jews.

    If a group of Palestinians (say Hamas soldiers) were to attack Israel today, they would probably be called “terrorists” even if they attacked only soldiers. By this rule of usage, the Irgun (always called “terrorists” and also the “Palmach” and “Haganah” should also be called “terrorists” for they operated before the State of Israel was created.

    • Peter in SF
      Peter in SF
      October 23, 2013, 12:49 am

      If a group of Palestinians (say Hamas soldiers) were to attack Israel today, they would probably be called “terrorists” even if they attacked only soldiers.

      There was an example of that on the front page of the Jerusalem Post just last week. October 18 headline: “IDF troops kill terrorist entering base on tractor”. The article itself used the word “terrorist” three times but didn’t explain why this Palestinian who drove a tractor into an IDF base in the West Bank was labelled a terrorist. The implication, then, is that his reported actions made him a terrorist.

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      October 23, 2013, 1:25 am

      pabelmont- Please cite a reference that implicates the Haganah for Deir Yassin. My understanding (until your references prove otherwise) is that Lehi (Stern gang) and Etzel (the Irgun) were involved, not the Haganah.

      • amigo
        October 23, 2013, 5:54 am

        “The deaths became a pivotal event in the Arab-Israeli conflict for their demographic and military consequences. The narrative was embellished and used by various parties to attack each other—by the Palestinians against Israel; by the Haganah to play down their own role in the affair; ” wiki

        Play down their own role.


      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        October 23, 2013, 12:10 pm

        amigo and pablemont- For the sake of historical clarity: The Haganah leadership gave approval for the attack, the Haganah’s personnel did not take part in the attack.

      • Obsidian
        October 24, 2013, 12:03 am


        The Haganah were not involved in the original plan to conquer Deir Yassin. A nearby squad or two of Haganah troops became involved after the Etzel and Lehi attack bogged down.

  5. James Canning
    James Canning
    October 22, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Very interesting.

  6. xanadou
    October 22, 2013, 3:38 pm

    Carl Sagan:
    “The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.”
    “We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers.”

    Supreme intellects fortified with moving empathy give me hope for the future.

    • Walid
      October 23, 2013, 4:35 am

      The name evokes such pleasant memories of this great inspirer. Leonard Bernstein was another.

  7. LanceThruster
    October 22, 2013, 4:23 pm

    In 1950, Einstein published the following statement on the question of Zionism. This speech was originally given to the National Labor Committee for Palestine, in New York, on April 17, 1938 but republished by Einstein after Israel’s creation.

    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 the 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 especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks, against which we have already had to fight without a Jewish state.


  8. Ron Edwards
    Ron Edwards
    October 22, 2013, 5:22 pm

    See Alfred M. Lilienthal, What Price Israel?, from 1953; and Fred Jerome, Einstein on Israel and Zionism, including this from Dr. Einstein’s dialogue with the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine in 1946:

    Judge Hutcheson: … I have asked these various persons if it is essential to the right or the privileges of the Jews to go to Palestine, if it is essential to real Zionism that a setup be fixed so that the Jews may have a Jewish state and a Jewish majority without regard to the Arab view. Do you share that point of view, or do you think the matter can be handled on any other basis?

    Dr. Einstein: Yes, absolutely. The state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and a narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.

    Clarifying: Einstein’s “Yes, absolutely” refers to the second clause in Judge Hutcheson’s question; i.e., he does not share the point of view the judge paraphrases.

  9. ToivoS
    October 22, 2013, 5:36 pm

    For anyone interested in Einstein’s views on Israel I would recommend “Einstein on Israael”

    I was reminded of this book after reading Phil’s essay on should writers identify their Zionism when covering foreign policy and the ME. The last chapter of the above describes the NYTimes obituary of Einstein. They completely and deliberately distorted Einstein’s attitudes towards Zionism. They described him as a Zionist, which is was sort of, but failed to mention that he opposed the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine. His vision was of a multicultural state where Jews could live.

    • Walid
      October 22, 2013, 7:42 pm

      4 years ago, Haaretz republished the review of the book on Einstein’s collection of letters, articles and interviews on Israel and Zionism by Fred Jerome and in the same review, there was also one of a book by Professor Marc Ellis “Judaism Does Not Equal Israel”:

      “… Einstein supported a “homeland” for Jews in Palestine, but he opposed a Jewish state “with borders, an army, and a measure of temporal power.” Since two-thirds of the population of Palestine consisted of Arabs, he preferred bi-national status with “continuously functioning, mixed, administrative, economic, and social organizations.” Only cooperation with Arabs, led by “educated, spiritually alert” Jewish workers, he wrote, “can create a dignified and safe life?. What saddens me is less the fact that the Jews are not smart enough to understand this, but rather, that they are not just smart enough to want it.”

      So great was Einstein’s prestige that he was offered the presidency of Israel in 1948, after the death of Weizmann. If he accepted, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion confessed, “we are in for trouble.” Nonetheless, the offer suggests that among many Israelis, his views were not entirely beyond the pale.

      Einstein said no – and continued to give voice to fears “for the soul of Israel.” He acknowledged that “there is no turning back anymore.” A few months before his death, however, he remembered his “great hopes that Israel might be better than other nations,” only to conclude that “it is no better.”

      “Judaism Does Not Equal Israel” is a sharper – and shriller – version of Einstein’s critique of the Jewish state. A “post-Holocaust” theology, according to Marc Ellis, professor of Jewish studies and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University, has conflated Jewish identity with allegiance to Israel, justified the “ethnic cleansing of more than seven hundred thousand Palestinians,? and muzzled “even mainstream, moderate critics” as “self-hating Jews.”

      Einstein, Ellis points out, was by no means the only Jewish intellectual troubled by policies to ensure the security of Jews “at the expense of another people.” Proposing a spiritual renewal rooted in community, Martin Buber wanted Jews to live in the Holy Land without a Jewish state to define that presence. And, writing in 1948, Hannah Arendt predicted that dispossession and the quashing of dissent would accompany the creation of a Jewish state.

      Although Ellis sometimes asks questions worth asking, his all-out assault on Israel, alas, is not likely to result in the dialogue he seeks. Palestinians, Ellis maintains, “have a right to see Israel and Jews [italics added] as colonialists and racists. The occupation has never been benign. Jews are not innocent.” Although he deems comparisons between the behavior of Nazis and Israelis “difficult to fathom,” he explains that the “Nazi reference is a plea to end a madness that was visited upon Jews for millennia, which they now visit upon another people [that they] have tortured, expelled, and murdered.”

      Ellis insists that the equation of Israeli and Palestinians “sins” and “rights” distorts “the historical reality.” In 1948, he claims, the Israelis were the aggressors, but it is they who now hold a monopoly on power. To restore their precious ethical traditions, “Israelis and their Jewish enablers in America” must confess their sins against the Palestinian people. He hopes, as well, for an admission that the two-state solution “is a fraud.” Ellis advocates one state (with Arabs and Jews living together), and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and villages in pre-1967 Israel.

      Acknowledging that Israel is not likely “to reverse its expansionist course,” Ellis ends with mourning – and a warning. No state, he writes, apocalyptically, can exercise power over others indefinitely. As the day of reckoning nears, the children of Israel “will encounter such hollowness at the core of Jewish identity that their distance from things Jewish will increase until, incrementally, the core disappears” and Jewish affiliation dwindles “to the point of no return.”

      Mourning can be a sign of hope, in which God returns or doesn’t, Ellis emphasizes, rather abstractly. And “too late can be right on time – when the time is right.” For now, though, he?s a self-proclaimed prophet in exile. His book is often over the top, but Ellis’s concerns about the ethical obligations of the State of Israel are, at times, worth listening to, even by those with a powerful urge to doubt, dismiss or destroy him.”

      BTW, I have the book; it was sent to me by a friend from the other side to give me an insight on Einstein’s negative as well as positive feelings on Zionism although there were more of the bad ones than of the good ones. What makes his overall feelings perplexing was that in spite of his rejection of the Presidency and of what the Zionists were doing to the Palestinians, he still felt he was a Zionist and an obligation to Israel and he left so much to the Hebrew University.

    • kayq
      October 22, 2013, 11:04 pm

      From my understanding, Einstein was essentially both a cultural and labour Zionist.

  10. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    October 22, 2013, 7:54 pm

    Einstein was a leftist, which is not widely known. He considered himself a socialist. He got some red-baiting criticism in the US during the McCarthy era, but he was largely immune to that criticism because of his great fame and worldwide stature. He was the only scientist since Darwin whose image was recognizable by the lay public.

  11. just
    October 22, 2013, 8:46 pm

    Einstein was a genius with a conscience.

    Fearless about speaking the truth, obviously. Now watch the excoriation begin anew by the Zionists. They’ll stop proudly claiming that he is one of “them”, and throw him to the curb until this dies down, or they find a way to deny it and/ or turn a blind eye.

  12. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    October 22, 2013, 11:36 pm

    The organization that Einstein was communicating with “American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel” was the American Friends of Lehi, Lohamei Herut Israel, known to the rest of you by the pejorative “Stern gang”. This does not change the facts regarding Einstein’s attitudes towards other Israeli groups and Israeli actions, but one should clarify the context of the letter by noting to whom it was sent.

    • Truthbug
      October 23, 2013, 11:11 am

      Yonah, please, the Stern gang was not an Israeli group and did not perform Israeli actions. It was a Zionist group and performed Zionist actions. But even more accurately, it was a Jewish group and performed Jewish actions. We often see such obfuscation, attempting to divorce the Jewish label from Jewish action. God forbid that anyone should point out that Jews have done bad things. One of the most notable obfuscations of course is the claim that Israelis fought the Arabs in the 1948 war before the creation of Israel. Indeed, it was Jews who fought the Arabs then. Using the term “Israelis” tries to legitimize the action of Jews, by identifying such action with the name of a nation that “has the right to defend itself.” A nation that doesn’t exist doesn’t have the right to defend itself. The Jewish action was, pure and simple, the apex of actions and intentions on the part of Jews over a period of decades to get Palestinian land by any means possible, including murder and mayhem.

  13. traintosiberia
    October 22, 2013, 11:43 pm

    We need a lot of fools like him to salvage what is left of Judaism to separate the chaff from the wheat to open up the enormous possibility human conscience have got in its soul. Einestein could have kept quiet,could have ignored, could have let other do the heavy lifting,or he simply could have swimmed with the flow.He decided otherwise. I hope if there were ever a binational state,the founders would honor him recognizing him as being the beacon of hope and champion of justice for the victims ( Jews and Arab ), as a moral compass advocating for both , in their darkest hours when one did not trust the other.

  14. Ron Edwards
    Ron Edwards
    October 23, 2013, 12:14 am

    One useful point to consider is that Hebrew University was not in Israel. Einstein’s commitment to it did not indicate commitment to Israel as a state, although it has been successfully spun that way.

    • wondering jew
      wondering jew
      October 23, 2013, 1:13 am

      Ron Edwards- When Hebrew U. was established it was not in Israel. When Einstein died (or in the seven years before Einstein died), it was in Israel. It might be true that it does not show commitment to Israel as a state or not, but still get your facts straight.

      • amigo
        October 23, 2013, 5:35 am

        “When Hebrew U. was established it was not in Israel. When Einstein died (or in the seven years before Einstein died), it was in Israel.”jonah

        Jerusalem is not in Israel.It is not recognized by any nation as the Capital of Israel , except the occupation Nation, ergo it is not in Israel.That is why there are no foreign embassies in Jerusalem.

        Get “your” facts straight.

      • wondering jew
        wondering jew
        October 23, 2013, 11:51 am

        amigo – that makes it even worse. einstein supported hebrew u. in territory that didn’t belong to israel. but i’m just joking with you. jerusalem is not the capital of israel, and there is something called corpus separatum. (but it is part of Israel, but before the legal scholars tell me precisely what it is and what it isn’t,) let’s be clear: to say that einstein’s support for hebrew u. is not a commitment to israel because hebrew u. is not in Israel, is just silliness and I enjoy silliness as in Monty Python and the Marx Brothers,but this kind of silliness is a waste of time.

  15. Mayhem
    October 23, 2013, 7:00 am

    When it came to the crunch Einstein was a Zionist at heart:

    When President Harry Truman recognized Israel in May 1948, Einstein declared it “the fulfillment of our dreams.” Perceiving its vulnerability after independence, he again set aside his pacifism in the name of human preservation. “No one respects or bothers about those who do not fight for their rights,” a changed Einstein wrote to his cousin in Uruguay. As planned, the cousin auctioned off Einstein’s letter, raising $5,000 to buy arms for the Haganah.

    Refer “Was Einstein a Jewish Saint?” at

    • talknic
      October 23, 2013, 9:18 am

      @ Mayhem “Was Einstein a Jewish Saint?” is an unsupported story. No footnotes, no bibliography

    • Ecru
      October 23, 2013, 11:46 am

      “No one respects or bothers about those who do not fight for their rights”

      Could have been talking about the Palestinians no?

  16. eljay
    October 23, 2013, 7:27 am

    >> When it came to the crunch Einstein was a Zionist at heart …

    That is disappointing.

    • Ron Edwards
      Ron Edwards
      October 23, 2013, 8:06 am

      Don’t let these guys get you with their soundbite techniques. Read the books cited above and you will see Einstein’s arc of experience with Jewish nationalism and Israeli statehood. The quotes provided with the references belong to that arc in the way that the appropriately-named Mayhem’s does not – especially since “in the crunch” is both inaccurate (Einstein was not being crunched) and manipulative, falsely implying that this quote abrogates all else.

  17. MHughes976
    October 23, 2013, 8:58 am

    The general impression seems to be that Einstein abandoned pacifism in response to the rise of Hitler, wanted a Jewish state in Palestine that did no harm to Arabs and was ambivalent about the costs of achieving that outcome. To some extent he seems to have tried to have it both ways, as so many – especially, perhaps, highly intelligent people – have done.

  18. Tuyzentfloot
    October 24, 2013, 3:53 am

    The clever israeli reaction would be to buy this letter, and depending on how much attention it gets, hide it, or display it prominently as proof of how much they defend democracy and freedom of expression – and that they want to make Israel even better.

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