History’s Problematic History About Einstein and Zionism


Update: Following up CAMERA’s correspondence with Kimberly Gilmore, History Channel’s historian and director of corporate outreach, on July 11, 2016 the network reaffirmed it’s commitment to accuracy and truth by revising certain wording contained in its “Albert Einstein: Fact or Fiction?” Web page. The new wording reads: “Einstein was, however, very sympathetic to Israel. In 1947 he expressed his belief in Zionism as well as the importance of ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs.” The previous (problematic) wording: “Though he [Albert Einstein] was very sympathetic to Israel, he was never an ardent Zionist – he believed in ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs.”

The History Channel Web page, “Albert Einstein: Fact or Fiction?,” contains this significantly misleading sentence, “… though he [Albert Einstein] was very sympathetic to Israel, he was never an ardent Zionist – he believed in ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs …” There are two problems here – 1) the erroneous characterization of Einstein’s attitude toward Zionism and 2) the erroneous implication that Zionism and Israel from the outset did not believe in cooperation between Arabs and Jews. Contrary to the assertion that Einstein was “never an ardent Zionist,” Einstein expressed great admiration of and identification with Zionism. In a June 13, 1947 letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, who would become India’s prime minister in August of that year, Einstein wrote,

Long before the emergence of Hitler I made the cause of Zionism mine because through it I saw a means of correcting a flagrant wrong. … the Jewish people alone has for centuries been in the anomalous position of being victimised and hounded as a people, though bereft of all the rights and protections which even the smallest people normally has… Zionism offered the means of ending this discrimination. Through the return to the land to which they were bound by close historic ties… Jews sought to abolish their pariah status among peoples… The advent of Hitler underscored with a savage logic all the disastrous implications contained in the abnormal situation in which Jews found themselves. Millions of Jews perished… because there was no spot on the globe where they could find sanctuary… The Jewish survivors demand the right to dwell amid brothers, on the ancient soil of their fathers. (“Einstein on Israel and Zionism” by Fred Jerome, St. Martin’s Press New York, 2009, Page 244) (Fred Jerome is a consultant to the Newhouse School of Communications, Syracuse University and has published in Newsweek and The New York Times.)

Moreover, The History Channel’s language that Einstein “was never an ardent Zionist – he believed in ‘friendly and fruitful’ cooperation between Jews and Arabs …” in context implies erroneously that Zionism from the beginning did not believe in this cooperation. This implication is contradicted by David Ben-Gurion, certainly an ardent Zionist, who was the leading founder of the State of Israel and its first prime minister. Ben-Gurion said in a Dec. 13, 1947 speech,

[I]n our state there will be non-Jews as well — and all of them will be equal citizens; equal in everything without any exception; that is: the state will be their state as well…The attitude of the Jewish State to its Arab citizens will be an important factor—though not the only one—in building good neighbourly relations with the Arab States. If the Arab citizen will feel at home in our state, and if his status will not be the least different from that of the Jew, and perhaps better than the status of the Arab in an Arab state, and if the state will help him in a truthful and dedicated way to reach the economic, social, and cultural level of the Jewish community, then Arab distrust will accordingly subside and a bridge to a Semitic, Jewish-Arab alliance, will be built… [“Ba-Ma’Araha” (In Battle), Hotsa’at Mifleget Poalei Eretz Israel, 1959, Vol IV, Part 2, pp. 260, 265, quoted in “Fabricating Israeli History,” Efraim Karsh, p. 67].

Stonewalling or procrastination?
History’s problem with accuracy in this case was brought to the attention of key History Channel executives on March 17, 2016. CAMERA urged remedial action. History promptly acknowledged receipt of the complaint but thus far has not acted to clarify or correct the problem, informing CAMERA on March 30 that it was reviewing the complaint – and on April 17 that it “will get back to you this week …” Nothing has been since heard from The History Channel on this matter as of May 6. Its Web page remains uncorrected as of this date. British historian Lord Acton, who famously noted that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” also insisted that “truth is the only merit that gives dignity and worth to history.” Is History stonewalling or procrastinating? Is The History Channel dedicated to accuracy and truth or not?

Comments are closed.