T H E J E W I S H QU E S T I O N 2 3 3
provide the men and the means for the upbuilding of Palestine, so on the other side will
Palestine be the source of energy for the Diaspora. Palestine will rekindle the spiritual life
of the
The second set of four documents that Einstein wrote or to which he contributed in 1921
needs to be understood first in the light of his emphasis on the cultural character of Zionism
(Doc. 59) and, second, as a response to his American visit. While Einstein placed great im-
portance on “cultural Zionism,” his traveling companions of the international Zionist lead-
ership held a quite different view. Political considerations were uppermost in their minds.
The group around Chaim Weizmann wanted to maintain the momentum achieved with the
Balfour Declaration in 1917, a document that signaled the wartime intent of the British gov-
ernment to further a growing Jewish presence in Palestine. Open to interpretation, however,
was the nature of such a presence. In taking a maximalist approach and emphasizing Zion-
ism’s political character, Weizmann and his supporters sought not only to expand Jewish
settlements in Palestine, but also to establish and flesh out as many social and political
institutions there as possible. This would maintain pressure on the British government to
honor its commitment, make colonization of Palestine more attractive to skeptical Jews,
and foster an irresistible dynamic toward the creation of a sovereign state in the Middle
In undertaking the American trip, the international Zionist leadership wished above
all to mobilize American Jews to contribute generously toward a settlement fund, called the
Palestine Foundation Fund (Keren Hayesod). Einstein clearly understood his role in the en-
terprise: “I really believe that my presence in America can simplify the task of tapping [the
funds of] those with
The American leadership, if not the rank and file of American Zionists, held a quite dif-
ferent position than its European colleagues. Most of the international Zionist leaders were
émigrés from Eastern Europe with an emotional commitment to establishing a political
haven for desperate East European Jews. For the group around Louis D. Brandeis (1856–
1941), the honorary chairman of the Zionist Organization of America, the unalloyed polit-
ical purposes of the Weizmann group were highly suspect. The American leadership was
[54]Das Programm des Zionismus, written by Richard Lichtheim, and the pamphlet Was will der
Zionismus? by Hermann Lelewer are both cited in Poppel 1977, pp. 97–98. The emphasis in the first
citation is added by Poppel.
[55]As Weizmann wrote to the Deputy High Commissioner of the (British) Government of Pales-
tine: “What is all the struggle about? Is it to create a few more stray colonies or to settle 2,000 more
halutzim [pioneers]? What are we all working for? If there is not the ideal of building up a Jewish
Commonwealth then our halutzim could go at less cost and with more prospects for a material well-
being to America, or Australia, or Argentina.” Weizmann to Sir Wyndham Deedes, 12 November
1921, cited in Weizmann, Ch. 1977, p. xiv.
[56]“[I]ch glaube wirklich, dass durch meine Anwesenheit in Amerika die Anzapfung der Dollar-
besitzer erleichtert werden kann.” Einstein to Paul Ehrenfest, 1 March 1921.
Perhaps the best survey of the founding and activity of the Keren Hayesod from 1921 until 1940
is provided by its longtime financial officer. See Ulitzur 1940.
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