Isaacson-einstein-wide

Since we've been talking about the subject, this fascinating piece by Walter Isaacson on Einstein's conversion to Zionism may be of interest. Of course, Zionism was a subject of debate among Jews and Gentiles for a very long time, and when Einstein visited America, he encountered some resistance to his increasingly passionate belief in a Jewish state:

The resistance to Einstein’s mission came not only from the Brandeis camp of cautious and restrained American Zionists, but also from successful New York Reform Jews of German heritage, many of whom were opposed to Zionism. When Einstein invited 50 or so of New York’s most prominent Jews to a private meeting in his hotel, many of them declined. Paul Warburg, who had served as his agent soliciting lecture fees, wrote:

"My presence would be of no use; on the contrary, I fear that, if at all, its effect would be rather to cool things down. As I already told you on another occasion, I personally have the greatest doubts relating to the Zionist plans and anticipate their consequences with genuine consternation."

Other rejections came from Arthur Hays Sulzberger of The New York Times; the politically connected financier Bernard Baruch; the lawyer Irving Lehman; the first Jewish Cabinet secretary, Oscar Straus; the philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim; and the former Congressman Jefferson Levy.

One note on my series of posts on the Israel-Palestine debate. I'm not squelching debate right now, just postponing it. I'm trying to make a longer argument than can appear in a single post, and after I've made my entire case, open the series up for real discussion. It's an experiment.

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