(Rishitha Jaladi, Intern Journalist)Vijayawada: Albert Einstein is known for general relativity and that weird equation we see everywhere “E = mc2“. But, he was known for something else too! Following the establishment of Israel in 1948 and the death of Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann in 1952, Prime minister David Ben-Gurion under pressure from a Jerusalem newspaper offered 73-year-old Einstein to lead the Jewish state.
What few people know is that, if he wanted to, Einstein might have added the president of Israel to his summary of achievements. But the Nobel-winning physicist rejected the offer stating that he had “neither the natural ability nor the experience to deal with human beings. Einstein wrote: “I am deeply moved by the offer from our State of Israel, and at once saddened and ashamed that I cannot accept it.” In addition, Einstein didn’t want to be a figurehead president. He loathed politics as much as he underpinned progressive causes!
Another adequate reason might be, he had fled Germany, and finally settled in the USA & he was not looking to move again. Additionally, He was a lifetime pacifist and he knew that Israel and the ME was not his place to try on this suit in a war zone.
Albert Einstein supported a home for the Jews in line with the mandate given to Britain, where Palestinians and people of the Jewish faith can live side by side as a Bi-nation. Few Journals also state that he had the view of the early Zionists and always wished Arabs and Jews to live together in Palestine in terms of mutual respect and co-operate in making the common home into a flourishing community!
Einstein supported the idea to have a separate Jewish land but didn’t agree to have a state with border, army and temporal power. He was a cultural Zionist who always believed in the continuous functioning, administration and economy of a Bi-nation.
The United Nations did divide the mandate, demarcating the borders of several new countries including the State of Israel, and war broke out instantly. And Einstein was one of the authors of 1948 to pen a letter to the New York Times criticizing Menachem Begin’s Revisionist Herut (Freedom) Party for the Deir Yassin massacre (Einstein et al. 1948).
The final takeaway is, not every person is ready, qualified or willing to enter the political arena. It was a sensible decision to leave governance to statesmen while doing what he can do best, namely science. Though at a lower level, we have already seen how the prolific scientist J.B.S.Haldane failed as an administrator of the Indian Statistical Institute or Amartya Sen as the founder of Nalanda University.
President or no, Einstein represented the Jewish people – and the rest of the world – like few others have in the history of mankind. He felt that he was too old and he felt that his skills and intellectual inclinations did not lend themselves to the murky world of politics but the clarity of science. Imagine if all politicians think just the same— wouldn’t the world be a better place?