D O C . 6 0 O N P A L E S T I N E . F I N A L V E R S I O N 2 4 3
60. “On A Jewish Palestine. Final Version”
[Einstein 1921i]
Printed version of the speech delivered 27 June 1921 to a Zionist meeting in Berlin.
Published 1 July 1921
In: Jüdische Rundschau, 1 July 1921, p. 371.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Building Palestine is for us Jews not a mere charity issue and a colonial affair but
rather a problem of central importance for the Jewish people. Palestine is not pri-
marily a refuge for Eastern Jews but rather the symbol of a reawakened national
feeling of community of all Jews. Is it opportune and necessary to waken and
strengthen this feeling of community? I believe I can answer this question with an
absolute “yes,” based not only on spontaneous emotion but from sound reason.
Let us briefly look at the development of German Jews during the last one hun-
dred years. A century ago, our ancestors lived, with few exceptions, in the ghetto.
They were poor, politically disenfranchised, separated from non-Jews by a wall of
religious traditions, secular forms of living and legal restraints; in their intellectual
development limited to their own literature, and only faintly influenced by the tre-
mendous upsurge that European intellectual life had experienced since the
Renaissance. But there was one thing in which these little-noted, modestly living
people were ahead of us: every one of them belonged with every fiber of his heart
to a community that completely absorbed him, where he could feel himself fully
accepted as a member, of whom nobody demanded anything that would have been
unacceptable to his natural way of thinking. Our ancestors then were physically and
intellectually rather undernourished, but in social respects they had an enviable bal-
ance of mind. Then came emancipation. Suddenly an individual had undreamed-of
opportunities of development. Individuals soon gained positions in the upper eco-
nomic and social classes of society. Greedily they absorbed the magnificent
achievements that the arts and sciences had created in the West. With glowing pas-
sion they took part in this development by creating lasting values for themselves.
In the process they accepted the external forms of life of the non-Jewish world, and
turned away more and more from the religious and social traditions of their past;
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