1 7 4 D O C . 2 0 3 D E C E M B E R 1 9 1 9 Forgive me for constantly harping on this matter instead of waiting until every- thing is absolutely set in stone. But you understand that I am just enthusiastic about it, like a child—and that it’s hard to keep my mouth shut. 3. I think that you can quite confidently say a few words about Julius’s theory without having a command of the whole subject.[5] Nobody has a command of that. Just think of Evershed’s nonsense about the solar atmosphere constantly fleeing from the Earth.[6] You don’t have to write a treatise on it, you know, but it would suffice if you sketched out in a few words, in connection with all the redshift ques- tions, that Julius’s ideas do seem noteworthy to you and to what extent. For it is no doubt true that the possibility of anomalous dispersion figuring in spectral displace- ment and [line-]broadening problems deserves a much higher degree of attention than is currently the norm.[7] Period.– Sorry, if—for the sake of brevity—I wrote somewhat categorically. 4. The lectures by Lorentz have appeared only in Dutch.[8] 5. I hope to speak with Ornstein, in a day or so, about the university issues.–[9] On Sunday, I visited a (70-year old) Jewish jurist, former professor, a man with an enormous reputation in the country’s legislature (Prof. Oppenheim). He knows me because he is curator at our university.[10] I wanted to speak to him about the feasi- bility of my trip to Basle.[11] He received me with very great warmth, which did not stop him from giving me a terrible dressing down, though: he cannot grasp why Zionists have dealings with secular people, who hence aren’t Jews at all.[12] And all the troubles of the Jews are due to educated or otherwise prominent Jews turning their backs on the Jewish masses as bluntly as they can, instead of really staying united.—I stood there completely helplessly before this verdict. And in truth, I fear that even with the best of intentions on my part, my incapacity to assist in a more publicly oriented task will soon reveal itself.[13] I hear, for ex., that your accom- plishments are being used to make propaganda, with the “Jewish Newton, who is simultaneously an ardent Zionist” (I personally haven’t read this yet, but only heard it mentioned). Or that one intends to establish here an association to combat anti-Semitism. All this is terribly damaging for the future of Jewry. In the best case, my efforts will be sufficient to leave behind, to a few Jewish and a few non-Jewish friends, by my professional work and perhaps also by my purely human behavior, an image that will not go to the discredit of Jewry. But I cannot go along with the propagandistic fuss with its inevitable untruths, precisely because Judaism is at stake and because I feel myself so thoroughly a Jew.—My powers do not suffice to make that sacrifice. I would rather go to pieces, together with wife and children.— I do not see why they cannot accept my assistance as meets my character—why they immediately also want to drag me into currents that are absolutely repulsive to my nature.– I have been struggling with these things, first unconsciously, and in
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