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Yehuda.
New York: Jonathan Cape & Harrison Smith,, 1931. Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles gilt to spine. With the dust jacket. Housed in a dark pinkish red cloth folding case. Slight sunning around board edges, an excellent copy with the dust jacket somewhat toned and lightly marked, and with a few small chips and tears to the extremities. First edition, first printing, presentation copy to Albert Einstein, inscribed by the author, "To Albert Einstein, for his true Zionism, Meyer Levin", on the front free endpaper and dated 6 February 1931. Yehuda is an early Zionist novel by Meyer Levin (1905-1981), based on his kibbutz experiences after he "gave us his job as star reporter and columnist for the Chicago Daily News and went to work on the soil of Palestine among the members of farm-communes engaged in founding a new Israelite nation" (jacket front flap). After the war Levin wrote a play based on the Diary of Anne Frank, with the approval of the Frank family, though it was never produced. His early books are very scarce indeed. This extraordinary inscription underlines the profound, complex, and controversial relationship Einstein had with the Zionist movement, and his own Jewishness. He was not a practising Jew, and a trenchant opponent of nationalism in all its guises, but nonetheless felt a strong kinship with the Jewish race and sympathy for their history of suffering. It was a sense of solidarity no doubt strengthened by the persecution he experienced in Germany during the 20s and 30s for his "Jewish Science". He began to lend his efforts and celebrity to assist Zionist causes, and on his first trip to America in 1921 he raised money for the World Zionist Organisation for the building of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He shared a place with Sigmund Freud on the university's first board of governors. In February of 1923 Einstein made his only trip to Palestine, where for twelve days he toured the country, and even walked around Jerusalem with British High Commissioner of Palestine Sir Herbert Samuel. Uniquely for Einstein, he kept a diary during his time there. He observed the Wailing Wall, "where dull ethnic brethren, with their faces turned to the wall, bend their bodies to and fro in a swaying motion. Pitiful sight of people with a past but without a present." Einstein remained emphatic in support for the Jews' right to settle in Palestine, but opposed the idea of a Jewish state. His vision was for the fostering of a nation where Jews and Arabs could peacefully coexist, infamously telling the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann in 1929 that if this could not be achieved "then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering." The horrors of the Holocaust did nothing to uncomplicate his views, and in 1948, after the Deir Yassin massacre was carried out against an Arab village by the "Freedom Party" (Trnuat Haherut) during the so-called "War of Independence", Einstein was one of the authors of an open letter to the New York Times, 4 December 1948, with several other Jewish signatories, going so far as to describe them as "a political party closely akin in its organisation, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties". Nonetheless, on the death in 1952 of Weizmann, who had been made Israel's first president, Einstein was offered the post. He declined, but in expressing his regrets he reconfirmed his commitment to the "true Zionism" invoked in Levin's presentation, declaring: "I am the more distressed over these circumstances because my relationship to the Jewish people has become my strongest human bond, ever since I became fully aware of our precarious situation among the nations of the world.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2017-12-01           Check availability:      Biblio    

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