Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A coincidental mention of Rachel Corrie

Strangely, however, Jerome clearly intends Einstein on Israel and Zionism to be a powerful anti-Zionist statement. All the parts of the book that are not from Einstein’s own hand—the extensive passages of historical and biographical background, the introduction, the notes—are written in a spirit not just critical of Israel, but basically hostile to the very notion of a Jewish state. The book’s politics become clear as early as the dedication page, for Jerome has dedicated Einstein’s words “to the memory of Rachel Corrie,” the American teenager accidentally killed when she tried to stop an IDF bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.
Of course, Einstein was quite the committed Zionist. The article does deal with many ways in which he was a left-Zionist, but he was nonetheless a Zionist. I've seen people claim Einstein was an anti-zionist before. And Hannah Arendt and any famous Jew who never moved to Israel. Arendt wasn't a Zionist, but she supported the creation of a Jewish army and helped smuggle Jews into Palestine. But for anti-Zionists to claim these figures (who would surely disagree profoundly with a great deal of what passes for anti-Zionism today) is only an obnoxious attempt to salvage a good-Jew/bad-Jew dichotomy, to tell Jews how we are allowed to think.

Of course, Einstein was a Zionist. Though he favored cultural Zionism over political Zionism, he remained committed to Zionism after '48, when that choice became moot. As he said:
My relationship with the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.

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